2019 Annual Dinner Highlights

/ Updates

On October 24, 2019, more than 1,100 friends and supporters from all corners of the legal community gathered at the Equal Justice Works Annual Dinner to join us as we honored our Equal Justice Works Fellows and presented the Scales of Justice Award to David Zapolsky, senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary of Amazon.

The event, held at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C., raised more than $3.3 million to support our efforts to mobilize a community of lawyers committed to public service.

CNN political analyst David Gregory served as emcee for the evening, and board chair Randal S. Milch kicked off the dinner by welcoming guests and introducing 2018 Equal Justice Works Fellow Katrina Feldkamp.

As a beneficiary of childhood legal intervention, Katrina shared how the lawyer who advocated for her and her sister has been an enduring inspiration. “Seeing him use his skills and position to serve and empower others inspired me to become a lawyer. I wanted to pay forward what he had done for me,” she explained. Now, Katrina has come full circle—as a Fellow at Bronx Legal Services, she helps New York City students dealing with severe academic or emotional challenges access the support they need.

One of the most memorable moments of the night occurred when 2018 Text-to-Give Fellowship recipient Nathan Goncalves, who notably appeared onstage last year with his young son, introduced the 2019 Text-to-Give Fellow Brendan Wood. Brendan shared how his Fellowship project was born from a deeply personal experience of the opioid epidemic: a West Virginia native, Brendan is intimately aware of what it’s like to experience poverty, and to watch friends, neighbors, and even his own brother overdose. Thanks to contributions at last year’s Annual Dinner, Brendan is back in his home state, helping to ease the collateral consequences of opioid addiction at Legal Aid of West Virginia.

I became a lawyer so that I could help my community take action to overcome and heal from the opioid epidemic.

Brendan Wood /
Equal Justice Works Fellow

Moved by Brendan’s story, attendees took collective action and raised more than $66,000 to support one more Equal Justice Works Fellow in the field!

After dinner, Fellows Rosalyn Scriven and Beverly Graham-Foy shared an inspiring story of how they collaborate in the Crime Victims Justice Corps to serve their clients, many of whom are victims of human trafficking­. From the stage, Rosalyn and Beverly called for the other 58 Fellows in this program to stand so that the full force of this powerful group of Fellows could be acknowledged.

Our executive director, David Stern, emphasized the importance of protecting the financial future of public service leaders, and spoke about how Equal Justice Works Fellows are effecting real change in our justice system, in our communities, and across our nation.

Michele Johnson, a 1996 Fellow shared the story, both humorous and heartbreaking, of her lasting impact. As a child, Michele watched as her cousins, who were born premature, blind, and deaf, die in the institution that was supposed provide them with necessary care. Ever since, Michele has been determined to give “legal fire power” to children and families who might be otherwise ignored. Now, as the executive director and co-founder of the Tennessee Justice Center, she leads the organization’s efforts to ensure access to affordable healthcare for all Tennesseans.

The evening concluded with former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, a previous Scales of Justice honoree, presenting the 2019 Scales of Justice Award to David Zapolsky. In his acceptance speech, David reflected on the evening’s conversations and reminded the legal community to grow their commitment to pro bono work.

The needs of people without access to legal representation in our communities are simply too great not to engage every single lawyer out there to help address them.”

David Zapolsky /
2019 Scales of Justice Honoree

The Equal Justice Works Annual Dinner celebrated leaders from all sectors of the legal profession who are helping to fulfill our nation’s promise of equal justice for all. Thank you to our supporters, and a special thanks to the Champion of Justice Sponsors Eversheds Sutherland, Fenwick and West, Greenberg Traurig, and Morgan Lewis for their incredible generosity.

If you were unable to attend the dinner but would like to make a contribution, please click here to support our work.

We look forward to seeing you at next year’s dinner. Stay tuned for more information!

Learn more about becoming an Equal Justice Works Fellow