Alumni Awards of Distinction

Social Justice Scholars Alumni Award

This award is sponsored by the Social Justice Mission Scholars at Vermont Law School. The Scholars are a select group of VLS students chosen through a competitive application process based on their demonstrated commitment to creating a more just society. They carry forward Vermont Law School’s tradition of leadership on social justice issues. To this end, they created the award to honor a Vermont Law School graduate who has demonstrated a deep and abiding commitment to causes of social justice.

Award Criteria

  1. Must be a Vermont Law School graduate. All alumni are eligible.
  2. Must demonstrate tireless commitment and achievement of meaningful impacts in the promotion of a just society. Examples of this commitment include:
    1. Challenging injustice and valuing diversity
    2. Championing the concept that everyone has the inalienable right to be treated equally under the law, regardless of race, gender, religion, age sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, family status, or incarceration
    3. Defending the dignity and justice of all animals
    4. Organizing community initiatives related to social justice
    5. Working for greater access to justice and law reform.
  3. Must have a demonstrated interest in mentoring law students or graduates interested in advancing social justice.

Nomination Guidelines

  1. Alumni who have been nominated previously may be re-nominated during any cycle with no restrictions.
  2. Nominations are due by the end of the day on March 13, 2020.
  3. Nominations must be sent by email to alumni@vermontlaw.edu.
  4. Nominations must include the following:
    1. Nominating statement in Microsoft Word (or PDF) of no more than three double-spaced pages in length, including:
      1. Name of nominee
      2. Current job title and location of nominee
      3. Year of graduation from VLS of nominee (if known)
      4. Explanation of how the nominee meets the criteria for this award
      5. Details on relationship between nominee and nominator.
    2. Resume/CV of nominee.
    3. Letters from others in support of the nomination can be included but are not required.

Award Selection Process

  1. VLS Social Justice Scholars and Faculty Advisors will review all nominations and select the award winner based on fit of submission to award criteria.
  2. The award winner and nominator will be notified by the Social Justice Scholars' chair or faculty advisor by email by April 1. Details on the award reception during the Homecoming Weekend will be provided.
  3. The Social Justice Scholars' chair or faculty advisor will notify all nominees of their nomination and invite them to attend the homecoming event following the selection of the award winner.
  4. The award will be presented at a reception during Homecoming Weekend (June 26-28, 2020.)
  5. The award winner is expected to attend the reception and provide a brief acknowledgement speech.
  6. All nominees are encouraged to attend the award reception.
  7. The award winner (and all nominees) are encouraged to network with VLS Social Justice Scholars during Alumni Weekend on Saturday, June 27 from 11:00 -12:00 p.m. to discuss ways to advance social justice and mentor students interested in same.

For any questions regarding this award or the nomination process, please contact alumni@vermontlaw.edu.

2019 Award Recipient

Cynthia Burns JD'88

Cynthia BurnsThe Social Justice Mission Scholars announced Cynthia Burns JD’88 as the recipient of the fourth annual Social Justice Scholars Alumni Award, honoring an alumnus or alumna who has demonstrated a deep and abiding commitment to causes of social justice.

The Scholars are a select group of VLS students chosen through a competitive application process based on their demonstrated commitment to creating a more just society. They carry forward Vermont Law School’s tradition of leadership on social justice issues. To this end, they created the award to honor a Vermont Law School alumnus/a who has demonstrated a deep and abiding commitment to causes of social justice.

Cynthia Burns JD'88 has been chosen as our 2019 Vermont Law School Social Justice Scholar's Alumni Award recipient, an environmental advocate focused on ... READ MORE

 

 

The VLSAA Distinguished Alumni Award

The VLSAA Distinguished Alumni Award was established by the Board of Directors of the Vermont Law School Alumni Association in March 2011. The award is given to alumni who exemplify and enhance "the VLS core values of community, diversity, service, ethics, and justice, and who enhance the reputation of Vermont Law School in the greater community."

The inaugural award in 2011 was presented to J. Scott Cameron JD'80, in recognition of his many years of service to VLS and his significant contributions to the legal community. In 2012, the award was presented to Wynona Ward JD'98, in recognition of her role as founder of Have Justice Will Travel, a model program directed at bringing an end to the generational cycle of abuse for women and children in rural communities. In 2013 the recipient was Professor Linda Smiddy JD'79, the first alumna to become tenured faculty at Vermont Law, in recognition of her contributions to scholarship and the legal profession. The 2014 award was presented to David Mears JD'91, who was recognized for his steadfast advocacy, leadership and service. The Honorable Justice Harold "Duke" Eaton JD'80 received the 2015 award for his exemplary leadership over 35 years in a public service legal career. Gabor Rona JD'78 received the sixth distinguished alumni award for his exemplary work in the field of international human rights. Dr. Marilyn Bartlett JD'91 was selected as the 2017 award recipient in honor of her lifelong efforts to support equal rights and social justice, especially in the field of education. The VLSAA selected Elizabeth MacDonough JD'98 as the 2018 award recipient for her service to the nation as the sixth parliamentarian of the U.S. Senate; she is also the first woman to hold the position in either the Senate or the House of Representatives.

2019 Award Recipient

Patricia Whalen JD'79

Patricia Whalen JD'79The Vermont Law School Alumni Association awarded the ninth annual VLSAA Distinguished Alumni Award to Patricia Whalen JD'79. The award honors an alumnus or alumna who exemplifies and enhances the VLS core values of "community, diversity, service, ethics, and justice," and who "enhances the reputation of Vermont Law School in the greater community."

Hon. Patricia Whalen has been a judge for over 20 years, working in U.S., Bosnia and Herzegovina court systems. In addition, she helped establish the Afghan Judicial Education Program and the Rural Women Leadership Institute of Vermont (USA), serving as Project Director from 2004-2014. While there, she designed the Vermont Afghan Judicial Education Program, which serves as a cultural exchange and legal education for Afghan women judges. She was also a keynote speaker at the first Afghan Women Judges Conference in Kabul, discussing the impact of women in the judiciary. Over 90 Afghan women judges were present for this historic event. Whalen specializes in human rights, war crimes, gender violence in conflict, genocide and crimes against humanity, and family law.

Since 2014, Whalen lectures, consults and presents for a variety of institutions including the United States Military Academy - West Point, the FBI International Human Rights Unit, The International Commission on Missing Persons, Vermont Law School, Washington Law School at American University, Keene State College, the Cohen Center for Genocide and Holocaust Studies, Bennington College, University of Massachusetts, School for International Training, U.S. Department of State, BiH Judicial College, USAID, and Osher Learning Institute. She currently consults and advises the Center for Peacebuilding in Sanski Most, Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

Alumni Service Award

2019 Award Recipient

Jami Westerhold JD/MSEL’08

Jami WesterholdVermont Law School has selected Jami Westerhold JD/MSEL’08 as the fifth recipient of the annual Alumni Service Award. With a passion for the environment, Jami decided to attend VLS with the aspiration of translating legalese for clients and constituents in order to make the law accessible to all. For the 15 years before, during, and after law school, Jami has worked on environmental issues at non-profits and at the local, regional, and federal level of government—including positions on both sides of the aisle in the U.S. Senate.

Jami now works as the Director of Development at the National Center for Transgender Equality where she translates policy positions into plain language for supporters of trans rights. Jami currently serves as the President of the Class of 2008 and as Vice President of the D.C. VLS Alumni Association (DCVLSAA). She previously served for four years as the DCVLSAA President. Since graduation, she has also volunteered, for the VLS Fundraising Leader- ship Committee and the Class of 2008 Reunion Committee.

 

 

 

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