Each year, the Women Lawyer’s Association of Michigan recognizes outstanding leadership in advocacy for the advancement of women, judiciary role models, and regional development.
Call for Nominations for the 2017 Awards Program. Download Nomination Forms:
WLAM Proudly Announces the 2016 Awardees
Jean L. King Award 2015 Awardee: Deborah L. Gordon
Deborah L. Gordon is a trial lawyer specializing in the areas of discrimination and civil rights since 1977. She served as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Michigan in the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Division and a Senior Trial Lawyer for the EEOC. She has been a Cooperating Attorney for the ACLU since 1982, and, in that role, won, among other cases, a precedent setting case blocking “drunk driving roadblocks” in the State of Michigan. Ms. Gordon has won over 50 jury trials on behalf of plaintiffs in discrimination and civil rights cases. She is former chairperson of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the State of Bar of Michigan, and is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, the Michigan Association for Justice (MAJ), the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association, and the Federal Bar Association (FBA). She has been listed in “The Best Lawyers in America” (employment and labor law) since 1987 and is a frequent lecturer and author.
The Jean King Leadership Award is given each year to commend a lawyer or judge for his/her outstanding leadership in the advancement of women. This individual brings honor, esteem, and respect to the legal profession. It is awarded to a visionary and risk taker who holds true to beliefs in face of vocal opposition; demonstrates the highest standards of integrity, fairness and leadership; actively supports and motivates others to operate at their highest potential for the benefit of the entire community; encourages and mentors others to be leaders; has made a positive change and influence in the course of the law; faces everything and avoids nothing; and shows visionary leadership in the face of opposition and outstanding efforts toward the advancement of women and the legal profession.
Mary S. Coleman Award 2016 Awardee: Honorable Denise Page Hood
The Honorable Denise Page Hood was confirmed as a District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in 1994 and became Chief Judge of the Court on January 1, 2016. Judge Hood presides over criminal and civil matters, including the Dow Corning bankruptcy/breast implant case involving the $3.1 billion Settlement Facility-Dow Corning Trust, where in excess of 145,000 claims have been filed. She is an active member of several professional organizations: Immediate Past Co-Chair of the Michigan State Planning Body for legal services; the State Bar Pro Bono Initiatives Committee; and the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association Foundation Board. She is past president of the Detroit Bar Association and the Association of Black Judges of Michigan. Honors recently received include: the 2016 Damon J. Keith Soul and Spirit Humanitarian Award; the D. Augustus Straker Bar Association’s 2014 Trailblazer Award; the Olivet College 2009 Leadership in Individual & Social Responsibility Award; the 2008 “Powerful Woman of Purpose” Award presented by the Rhonda Walker Foundation; the Michigan Women’s Foundation’s 2008 Women of Achievement and Courage Award; and the 2008 Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s Award of Excellence; the 2005 Michigan Anti-Defamation League’s Women of Achievement Award; and the Damon J. Keith Community Spirit Award in 2000. Judge Hood is a graduate of Yale University and the Columbia University School of Law.
The Mary S. Coleman Award is awarded to a current or former member of the Michigan federal, state, or tribal judiciary whose leadership, talent, and significant contributions to women provide a role model for women in the profession and women in general.
2016 Regional Leadership Awardees: Tanya Lundberg and Torree J. Breen
Tanya Lundberg is an associate at Collins Einhorn Farrell PC. She focuses her practice on the defense of professional liability claims, representing attorneys, Realtors, and other professionals. Her experience also includes representing businesses and individuals in construction defect litigation, commercial litigation, consumer financial litigation, real estate litigation, and bankruptcy matters. When she is not working, Tanya enjoys spending time with her husband and seven-year-old son, and is an avid University of Michigan sports fan.
Torree J. Breen is a partner at Willingham & Cote, P.C. and a member of the firm’s Litigation Group. Ms. Breen specializes in no-fault litigation, insurance defense coverage, divorce, and child custody disputes. Ms. Breen handles very complex catastrophic first party no-fault defense cases for our client insurance companies including areas that focus upon medical provider litigation, health care insurance priority litigation, handicapped accessible housing, and attendant care claims.
Ms. Breen also enjoys her family law practice wherein she has received numerous professional awards including “Top Ten Family Law Attorney” by the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys (NAFLA) and “Top Ten Family Law Attorneys” as selected by The American Institute of Family Law Attorneys (AIFLA). Most recently, she has received a Certificate of Completion in the area of Family Law issued by the Institute of Continuing Legal Education and the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan.
Torree is extremely committed to her clients and her legal practice, but also makes it a priority to support other women in the legal profession. Specifically, as the previous President of the Mid-Michigan Region of the WLAM, she made great strides growing the chapter membership, supporting existing events and expanding the chapter’s offerings to members.
The Regional Leadership Award recognizes and celebrates the accomplishments of an individual WLAM member who has demonstrated professionalism, excellence and dedication to furthering the objectives of WLAM.
Jean L. King Leadership Award
Pioneer of Self-Determination for Women and Girls
Presented in commendation for visionary leadership in the face of opposition and outstanding efforts toward the advancement of women and the legal profession.
|Carole Chiamp has practiced law since 1974 and is the principal in the firm Chiamp & Associates, P.C., a general practice law firm with an emphasis on divorce litigation. Ms. Chiamp has also served as a mediator and arbitrator since 1975. She is a graduate of the Detroit College of Law, and has been honored with awards ranging from Best Lawyers in America, DBusiness Top Lawyer, Distinguished Alumni Award from Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University and a Champion of Justice Award Recipient from the State Bar of Michigan, to name just a few. Ms. Chaimp has helped shape the family law and works tirelessly to ensure that voices of women and children are represented both inside and outside the courtroom. Ms. Chaimp is a columnist for the Michigan Family Law Journal, a faculty member of the Annual Family Law Institute, and has written several important articles including Trial Preparation for Family Law and Tort Remedies for Domestic Abuse: An Underused Avenue of Relief. Ms. Chaimp has given a voice to survivors of domestic violence before many had the courage to speak.
Carole’s dedication is not limited to women in the legal profession. She volunteers her services at the Detroit Public Schools, she is a lifetime member of NAACP, and she serves on the Board of the Citizens for Better Care, an independent non-profit consumer advocacy and information agency for residents of long-term care and their support people. Services include regional ombudsman services in nursing homes, adult foster care, homes for the aged, family council development, family support services, elder abuse education, state and federal legislative and policy advocate, and participation in consumer coalitions. Carole also finds to the time to serve on numerous professional associations and boards, including the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission, Michigan Civil Rights Commission, 21st Century Commission on the Courts, Task Force on Child Support and Alimony Awards, and is a Past President of the Detroit Bar Association.
|Dawn Van Hoek is Director of the State Appellate Defender Office, Michigan’s only state-funded public defense agency. Twice recognized by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as one of the state’s most influential lawyers, Ms. Van Hoek has chaired the State Bar’s Representative Assembly, Attorney Discipline Board hearing panels, and co-chaired the Bar’s Task Force on Racial, Ethnic and Gender Issues in the Courts and Legal Profession. She has served as President of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan Foundation since 1997, leading a scholarship program that has awarded nearly $500,000 to 210 outstanding women law students. Ms. Van Hoek is a past president of the statewide Women Lawyers Association of Michigan and also has served as the President of the Wayne Region Women Lawyers Association of Michigan.
A recipient of the 2013 Metro Detroit ACLU’s Bill of Rights Award, Ms. Van Hoek was honored in 2014 with the WLAM Foundation’s Legacy Award. She currently serves on the boards of the Michigan Campaign for Justice, the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan, and Wayne County’s Criminal Advocacy Program. Her community service includes serving as a mentor in the Just the Beginning Program, linking college-bound students with practicing lawyers.
|Judge Smolenski began her legal career in 1983 as an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Grand Rapids. She joined the firm of Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge, where she practiced until her election to the 63rd District Court bench in 1990. She has ably served as 63rd District Court Judge for the last 22 years; she was appointed Chief Judge of that court in 1996 by the Michigan Supreme Court. Judge Smolenski’s contributions to organizations supporting women and children are impressive. Her resume details service on many Boards of Directors, including the YWCA, the American Cancer Society, the Kent County Literacy Council and St. John’s Home for Children. She was the coach (and star player) for the women’s team in the first WLAM Western Region Women
Lawyers vs. Judges Charity Softball Game, and she now serves as the coach (and, still, star player) for the judges’ team.
|Lorraine Weber is the daughter and granddaughter of lawyers. An honors graduate of the University of Michigan and Boston College of Law, she joined Wayne County Probate Court in 1979, where she served as Probate Division Attorney, Juvenile and Probate Register and Court Administrator. She left the Court to serve as Project Director for the Michigan Supreme Court Task Forces on Gender and Racial/Ethnic Issues in the Courts. Two landmark reports were issued from the Task Forces outlining recommendations for improving fairness and eliminating bias in Michigan’s legal system.
Ms. Weber has served as special advisor to the State Bar of Michigan Task Force on Racial/Ethnic and Gender Issues in the Courts and the Legal Profession and Director of the State Bar of Michigan Open Justice Commission. She helped to develop programs aimed at eliminating all forms of bias in the legal profession and promoting fairness in the courts. She is a founding member and former Board member of the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness Issues in the Courts. She received the Consortium’s Founders Award in 1999.
Ms. Weber currently serves as Executive Director of the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association Foundation, working with law firms, courts and community organizations to improve the quality of justice through education, dialogue, and community activities. The Foundation supports a diverse mix of programming, including the Detroit Legal Services Clinic, the For the Seventh Generation program and the Cooley Pro Bono Mentor program, among others.
Ms. Weber is an adjunct Professor at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. In 2003, she received the Community Service Pride Award from the Triangle Foundation. She is an ordained minister involved in a spiritual support groups for young girls and women. Since 2005, Ms. Weber has been the assigned mentor for the young women attorneys nominated to participate in the nationally recognized Mentium program and sponsored by the WLAM Foundation.
2011 Jennifer Salvatore
2010 Kathy Bogas
2009 Hon. Melinda Morris
2008 Deborah LaBelle
2007 Kim Cahill
Mary S. Coleman Award
First Woman Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court
Presented in recognition of significant contributions as a judiciary role model for women in the legal profession and in society.
|The Honorable Marianne O. Battani was nominated to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan by President William Clinton in June, 1999 and confirmed by the Senate in May, 2000. Prior to her appointment to the federal bench, she served as a state circuit court judge in Wayne County, Michigan, since 1982. Judge Battani has participated in numerous legal, educational, and charitable organizations. She is a former Commissioner of the State Bar of Michigan, Past President of the Women’s Lawyer’s Association of Michigan, past Chair of Michigan’s Judicial Tenure Commission, and Trustee Emeritus of the Michigan State University College of Law. Judge Battani graduated in 1972 cum laude from the Detroit College of Law.|
|Court of Appeals Judge Kirsten Frank Kelly graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1978, and from the University of Detroit School of Law with a Juris Doctor degree in 1981. She joined the Detroit law firm of Durant and Durant, where she practiced civil litigation, and became a partner in the firm in 1987. In 1987, she was elected to the Grosse Pointe Park Municipal Court, and she was twice reelected to that position. After taking time off in 1991 following the birth of her third child, Judge Kelly formed another law firm and practiced both civil and criminal law. In 1994, she was appointed to the Wayne Circuit Court by Governor John Engler.
In 1997, Chief Justice Conrad Mallett appointed her presiding judge of the Family Division of the Wayne Circuit Court. In 1999, she was appointed as the presiding judge of the juvenile division of the Wayne Circuit Court. Judge Kelly was elected to the Court of Appeals in 2000. She is the chairman of the Court of Appeals Quality Review committee and serves on the Rules committee as well. She is a frequent speaker for the ICLE Family Law Seminars.
Judge Kelly has served two terms as President of the Michigan Association of Municipal Judges, served on the board of directors of the Michigan District Judges Association, and has been a hearing panel Vice Chairman for the Attorney Grievance Commission. She has been a volunteer with the Legal Alternatives for Women Program, supervising and instructing attorneys and lay volunteers in the proper application and implementation of domestic violence law. Judge Kelly serves on the Board of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan. Judge Kelly’s civic activities include being an advisory board member for KIDS-Talk, a member of Leadership Detroit XVII, a charter member of the Grosse Pointe Sunrise Rotary, a board member of the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan and a current board member of the Detroit Executive Leadership Committee for the Kidney Foundation.
|Justice Marilyn Kelly recently retired from the Supreme Court after 24 years as a judge. She was Chief Justice from 2009-2011. In 2010, she and James L. Ryan, senior judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, established the Michigan Judicial Selection Task Force. Their bipartisan reforms to Michigan’s method of selecting judges were praised by the Detroit Free Press as an “indispensable first step toward reform of a broken status quo that is undermining public confidence in the courts.”
Justice Kelly credits her advancement in the legal profession to her experience in the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan. “I was elected to the bench immediately after serving as President of the Women’s Bar Association and WLAM. There’s no question in my mind that what I learned working in those organizations was essential to my later success.”
A Michigan native, Justice Kelly grew up in Detroit. She earned her undergraduate degree from Eastern Michigan University, followed by graduate study at LaSorbonne at the University of Paris and at Middlebury College in Vermont, where she earned her master’s degree. She is an honors graduate of Wayne State University Law School.
Michigan Lawyers Weekly named her “Women Lawyer of the Year” in 2012. She received in that same year lifetime achievement awards from the Michigan Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Appellate Practice Section of the State Bar of Michigan, the Michigan Chapter of the American Constitution Society, the Michigan Defense Trial Counsel, and the Detroit and Michigan Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.
A well-known advocate for access to justice, Justice Kelly co-chaired the State Bar’s Open Justice Commission and is on the board of the National Consortium for Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts. Justice Kelly is currently a Distinguished Jurist in Residence at Wayne State University Law School where she has established a scholarship for students interested in public service law.
|Chief Judge of the 46th District Court, the Honorable Susan M. Moiseev first took the bench in 1986 and has been re-elected by the voters of the 46th district four times. A longtime Southfield resident, over the years Judge Moiseev has been involved in a wide range of community activities. Among the organizations and causes she has supported are Relay for Life, the American Heart Association Walk, Battle of the Books, Southfield Community Foundation Women’s Fund, Special Olympics and the Law Enforcement Torch Relay for Special Olympics, DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), and Friends of the Southfield Library and others. Currently, she serves on the boards of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Aging Services Committee of Jewish Senior Life.
In addition to her activities in the community Judge Moiseev has also been actively involved in legal organizations on the local, state and national level. In 2009 she served as President of the Michigan District Judges Association. She represents the State Bar of Michigan in the American Bar Association House of Delegates.
Regional Leadership Awards
These awards are presented in recognition and celebration of professionalism, excellence and dedication to furthering the objectives of WLAM.
Tanya Lundberg (Oakland Region)
Torree J. Breen (Mid-Michigan Region)
Ellen E. Hoeppner (Wayne Region)
Kristin L. Murphy (Oakland Region)
WLAM Oakland Region
Kelly Brushaber (Western Region)
L. Nichole Smithson (Wayne Region)
Kristin A. Stone (Macomb)
Alena Clark (Wayne)
WLAM Mid-Michigan Region
WLAM Western Region