With a theme of “Keep moving forward,” the 2019 MABL Foundation Scholarship Gala honored five students from Mitchell Hamline School of Law and the University of St. Thomas School of Law. The students demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and a deep commitment to addressing issues that impact the black community.
In addition to the scholarship recipients, John Choi, the first Korean-American chief prosecutor in the United States was honored with the MABL Profiles in Courage Award for his innovative approach to progressive justice reform. Choi’s courageous decisions include deciding to charge the officer involved in the shooting of Philando Castile and charging the St. Paul archdioceses for sexual abuse. “Leaders do the right thing and managers do things right,” Mr. Choi said.
Judge Tanya M. Bransford received the MABL President’s Award. She shared the significant gains that have been made diversifying the Minnesota bench from a time when there were only two black judges out of more than 60.
Keynote speaker Anna Richo’s law career spans more than 30 years in corporate litigation, compliance and business ethics as well as intellectual property. She joined Cargill this year as its general counsel, chief compliance officer, and corporate secretary. Ms. Richo’s deeply impactful keynote address focused on historic systemic prejudice in Minnesota, affecting Black homeownership and diversity in the workplace. She shared a thoughtful discussion about the danger of using the term “people of color,” noting that lumping four distinct groups together can mask a lack of real diversity in organizations.
MABL is committed to promoting and supporting the professional development of Black lawyers, judges, and law students in Minnesota, addressing the legal issues affecting the Black community in Minnesota; and advancing education, excellence, and racial equity in the pursuit of justice. Blackwell Burke actively supports MABL. In addition to Firm attorneys who are members of MABL, Blackwell Burke founder Jerry Blackwell co-founded MABL in 1995 and thrice served as its present. Firm attorney Spiwe Jefferson is also past president of the organization.
“We are honored to partner with MABL on this annual event, which delivers a variety of speakers on issues important to the legal community as a whole, in addition to bringing together lawyers from all walks of the legal profession,” said Spiwe Jefferson.