Stars of the Bar: 2009

WBA Recognizes Outstanding Community Service at the 2009 Stars of the Bar

The 2009 Stars of the Bar networking reception was held in the lobby of the beautiful Columbia Square Building at 555 13th Street, NW, Washington, DC, with light hors d'oeuvres and beverages from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and a brief program beginning at 7:00 p.m.

As outlined in her Annual Dinner remarks and Letter from the President in this newsletter, WBA President Consuela Pinto has made a commitment to Community Service this year. This includes recognizing attorneys who have contributed their time and talent to local nonprofits, promoting community service opportunities available to our members, and highlighting worthy community service projects.

This year’s event honored attorneys who have shown an extraordinary commitment to community service. The reception also kicked off a 3-month WBA community service project on behalf of the Capital Area Food Bank Children’s Program.

This year’s honorees have made exceptional contributions to the community in a variety of forms: founding a charter school, providing resources to enable attorneys to do pro bono work, and assisting parents, communities and DC public schools to work together for the benefit of students. At the 2009 Stars of the Bar event, the WBA recognized the following attorneys:

Shantelle D. Wright, Founder and Head of School, Achievement Prep
Ms. Wright left private practice and founded Achievement Preparatory Academy (Achievement Prep), a college preparatory public charter school located in Ward 8 in Washington, DC. She was involved in all aspects of the planning, including negotiating a sublease for space in an existing school, drafting the student handbook, and developing the school’s mission. In fall 2008, Achievement Prep opened its doors and welcomed its first classes of students.

Students at Achievement Prep are organized into two grade-based academies. Students in grades 4 through 6 form the Foundation Academy, and students in grades 7 and 8 are in the Legacy Academy. Through its “Be the DREAM” character and leadership program, all students focus on the development of Achievement Prep’s DREAM values (Determination, Respect, Enthusiasm, Accountability, and Mastery). Ms. Wright remains the Head of School of Achievement Prep and is an ex-officio member of the Board of Directors.

Jenny Brody, Karen Barker Marcou and Marla Spindel, Founders, DC Volunteer Lawyers Project
The DC Volunteer Lawyers Project (DCVLP) was founded by four women, including attorneys Ms. Brody, Ms. Barker Marcou and Ms. Spindel. DCVLP seeks to utilize the skills of attorneys who have taken time off from the full-time practice of law, usually to focus on their families, to provide pro bono legal services to low income women, children, and families in the DC area in domestic violence, custody, guardian ad litem, foster care, and other family law cases. Ms. Brody, Ms. Marcou and Ms. Spindel each left the practice of law to care for their children, but continued to do pro bono civil legal work on an individual basis. It soon became clear that attorneys not associated with a law firm face several difficulties handling pro bono cases, due to lack of resources. They founded DCVLP in January 2008 to respond to those challenges. DCVLP provides its volunteer attorneys with malpractice insurance, office space, legal research tools, training, and mentoring. DCVLP currently takes cases that have been referred from the Foster and Adoptive Parent Advocacy Center, Women Empowered Against Violence, and DC Family Court Judges. Through DCVLP, attorneys who leave the practice of law to focus on their own their families can maintain their skills and obtain personal enrichment focusing on the legal needs of other families in the community as well.

Currently Ms. Brody serves as DCVLP President, Ms. Marcou serves as a Vice President, and Ms. Spindel serves as the GAL Project Coordinator.

Doran Flowers, Tina Hsu, and Jason King, Founders of Turning the Page
Turning the Page is a DC non-profit organization dedicated to improving educational opportunities for DC public school students. It was founded in 1998 by a group of young professionals, including attorneys Mr. Flowers, Ms. Hsu, and Mr. King. Motivated by the visible needs of DC public school students, the founders were intent on positively impacting the community. Turning the Page’s mission is to link DC public schools, families, and the community to ensure that students receive valuable and educational resources and a high-quality public education. Turning the Page works to achieve its mission in several ways, including hosting Community Nights, a school-based parent involvement initiative that includes parent workshops, child mentoring, book giveaways, and family dinners; partnering with several Title I schools located in Wards 6, 7, and 8; and holding its annual fundraiser, Carpe Librum (Seize the Book!). Recently, Turning the Page collaborated with the DC College Savings Plan to host seminars for parents on goal-setting and saving for college. Turning the Page’s growth and many successes remind us that a small group of motivated individuals really can make a very large, positive impact in our community.

Mr. Flowers is currently an ex-officio member of the Board and Senior Advisor to Turning the Page. Ms. Hsu, a partner in the Commercial Litigation Department at Shulman Rogers Gandal Pordy & Ecker and a WBA Board member, continues to stay active in Turning the Page. Mr. King works full-time as President of Turning the Page.