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2016 KBA Awards

Monday, June 27, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Meg Wickham
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KBA honors 28 at its annual awards luncheon




KBA honors 28 at its annual awards luncheon


TOPEKA, Kan. (June 17, 2016)—The Kansas Bar Association honored 28 at its annual luncheon during its annual meeting in June at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Wichita. This year’s honorees ranged from the Wichita Bar Association’s Clean Slate Project to the Executive Director of Kansas Continuing Legal Education.

 Phil Lewis Medal of Distinction

The Phil Lewis Medal of Distinction is the KBA’s highest honor and reserved for individuals or organizations who have performed outstanding service and conspicuous service at the state, national or international level in the administration of justice, science, the arts, government, philoso­phy, law or any other field offering relief or enrichment to others.

 The Wichita Bar Association celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2015 and wanted to do a pro bono project as part of the celebration. The Bar Association put together an expungement clinic for low income individuals who were eligible for an expungement, but had not been able to obtain an expungement due to limited funds. Planning for the project started in 2014. The end result was Clean Slate Day on March 4, 2016. 

 The Wichita Bar Association facilitated the project and different entities came together to make the project a success. Prosecutors, volunteer attorneys, clerks, judges, Kansas Legal Services, and Volunteer Kansas spent countless hours in the planning process.  Robert Moody, an attorney with Martin, Pringle, Oliver, Wallace & Bauer, LLP, was able to secure $65,000 from three donors to cover the cost of court filing fees. 

 The clinic was scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Sixty attorneys and many non-attorneys volunteered their time to assist with all aspects of the clinic. At 6:15 a.m. two people were already in line.  By 9 a.m. the line extended from the courthouse doors down the block to the parking garage. 

 Over 1,000 people came to the courthouse seeking expungement. Over 150 people were able to walk into the courthouse that morning and leave with a “clean slate” expungement, and the project ran out of time before it ran out of money. Wichita Bar Association attorneys are still processing expungement cases and will continue to do so until the donated money is spent, and expects to assist another 150 people. While 150 may sound like a small number of people assisted, it should be noted that the Clean Slate Project did more expungements in one day than the City of Wichita did in one year, and half the number of expungements that Sedgwick County did in one year.

 Everyone who came to Clean Slate Day benefited even if they did not get the expungement they were seeking. Every person who appeared received free legal advice about expungement. Information sheets or free online forms were provided explaining options for those who were not otherwise assisted. The stories from those who received expungements were powerful; as those who had obtained their expungements passed through the courtroom of those waiting to be processed, the crowd cheered.  We will never know the extent of the positive impact that obtaining the expungement will make for those individuals. We know for certain that they will be able to obtain better employment, better housing, and have increased access to higher education. The Wichita Bar Association identified a significant need in the community and put in the hours it takes to truly make a difference. 

 Distinguished Service Award

 The Distinguished Service Award recognizes an individual for continuous long-standing service on behalf of the legal profession or the public, rather than the successful accomplish­ment of a single task or service.

 Hon. Karen Arnold-Burger became a member of the Kansas Court of Appeals in February 2011 after serving 20 years as the Presiding Judge of the Overland Park Municipal Court. She previously served as First Assistant City Attorney for Overland Park and Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Kansas.  She is also a former president of the Johnson County Bar Association, the Earl E. O'Connor Inn of Court, and the Kansas Municipal Judges Association. In 2006, she received the Justinian Award from the Johnson County Bar Association exemplifying her integrity and service to the community and the legal profession. Judge Arnold-Burger taught for 15 years at the National Judicial College in Reno, Nev., where she was elected by her fellow faculty members to its Faculty Council. She has presented judicial educations programs around the country on topics as diverse as traffic law, racial profiling and disproportionate minority confinement, collateral consequences of criminal convictions, including immigration consequences, and legal issues related to jury selection and deliberation. In 2015 she received the American Bar Association Burnham "Hod" Greeley Award "in honor of her significant positive impact on public understanding of the role of the judiciary in a democratic society and its importance to the rule of law." She currently serves on the ABA Judicial Division taskforce on Implicit Bias. She is a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Law.

 Professionalism Award

The Professionalism Award is given to an attorney who has practiced law for over 10 years who, by his or her conduct, honesty, integrity and courtesy, best exemplifies, repre­sents and encourages other lawyers to follow the highest standards of the legal profession.

 Otis Warren Morrow is a native of Arkansas City. Morrow graduated from Cowley Community College in 1968 Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan. in 1970 with a dual degree, cum laude in Business Administration and History/Political Science. He received his Juris Doctor from Washburn University School of Law in 1973. Morrow was inducted into the Business Hall of Fame at Southwestern College in 2013, and was honored as an outstanding Alumnus at Cowley College.

 Morrow is licensed to practice law in the States of Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma, as well as numerous Federal District Courts, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U. S. Supreme Court. He is a Fellow of the Kansas Bar Foundation. 

 Morrow served as city attorney for 30 years, and was a member of the Board of Directors of the City Attorneys Association.

 In the early 1980's, he drafted the Legislation separating the City and the Arkansas City Memorial Hospital and since separation, has provided legal counsel to the Medical Center, serving as a Member of the Board of Directors of the Kansas Association of Hospital Attorneys and as its President in 1987.

 Morrow served as Sr. Vice President and Sr. Trust Officer at the Home National Bank, from January 2005 until his retirement from the bank in February 2013. He is in his 43rd year of practice.

 Morrow has been involved in community and civic affairs for the past 41 years, serving on the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce on several different occasions and as President in 1983. Morrow is a 25 year member of the Midian Shrine and Masonic Lodge #133, a member of the “One Thousand” Club sponsored by the Midian Plane of Mercy in recognition of sincere interest in crippled and burned children.

 Morrow is a Member of Rotary and served as past President in 1985, and is a Paul Harris Fellow. Morrow provided pro bono legal services in obtaining Certification for the Arkansas City Rotary Foundation earmarked for local community betterment. 

 Morrow provided pro bono legal services to many organizations including the inception of Ark City Habitat for Humanity, Etzanoa Conservancy, Inc.

 Morrow is an active member and Elder of the First Presbyterian Church in Ark City, and recently celebrated 46 years of marriage with his wife, Terri.

 Distinguished Government Service Award

The Distinguished Government Service Award recognizes a Kansas lawyer who has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to government service. This year, two attorneys were honored with this award.

 Judge Dale L. Somers of Topeka is a native Kansan who grew up in Norton. He received his undergraduate degree from Kansas State University in 1968 and his juris doctorate from the University of Kansas School of Law in 1971. He was in the private practice of law in Topeka with the firms of Eidson, Lewis, Porter & Haynes and Wright, Henson, Somers, Sebelius, Clark & Baker for 32 years until he became a U.S. bankruptcy judge in 2003. Somers was appointed to the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the 10th U.S. Court of Appeals in 2010. He also serves as a member of the Judicial Resources Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States. Somers served on the KBA board of governors from 1988-98 and as president from 1995-96. He is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, a Fellow of the Kansas Bar Foundation and a Fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy.

 Robert W. Parnacott graduated with Dean's Honors from Washburn University School of Law in 1991. During law school he was a law clerk for the Shawnee County District Court. He then served as a research attorney for the Central Staff of the Kansas Court of Appeals and later for Justice Tyler Lockett of the Kansas Supreme Court. Following his clerkships he was employed by the Kansas Corporation Commission and subsequently the Kansas Department of Health and Environment as a staff attorney. From 2000 until his retirement in May 2016 he was an assistant county counselor for Sedgwick County, Kan. He wrote several articles for the Journal of the Kansas Bar Association on local government topics, as well as other articles on civil procedure and environmental audits. In addition to his government service he was an associate with Woodard, Hernandez, Roth & Day in Wichita from 1997 to 2000.

 Courageous Judge Award

The Courageous Judge Award recognizes a lawyer who has displayed exceptional courage in the face of adversity, thus bringing credit to the legal profession.

 Hon. Larry T. Solomon currently serves as chief judge of the 30th Judicial District. He was appointed as district judge of division IV of the 30th Judicial District in 1989, and appointed as Administrative Judge of the 30th Judicial District in 1991.

 He served as First Chair of the Kansas Supreme Court Advisory Council on Dispute Resolution from 1994-2000, the Kansas Sentencing Commission from 2005-2008, and has served on the Non-Judicial Salary Commission since 1991 and as chair since 2003. He is also a member of the Kansas District Judges’ Association (President 2003-04) and a member of the National Association for Court Management.

 Solomon received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wichita State University in 1972, and Juris Doctor Degree from Washburn University Law School in 1976.

 Outstanding Young Lawyer

The Outstanding Young Lawyer Award recognizes the efforts of a KBA Young Lawyers Section member who has rendered meritorious service to the legal profession, the community or the KBA.

 Christine Campbell graduated from Northwest Missouri State University in 2005 and Washburn University School of Law in 2008. She has served as an attorney with Kansas Legal Services for the last eight years practicing domestic and elder law, as well as general poverty law.

 Campbell is a member of the Kansas Women Attorneys Association, Lindsborg Conference Program Committee, American Bar Assocaition, Kansas Bar Association, Wichita Bar Association (WBA) and serves as President of the Wichita Women Attorney Association, where she has been an active member since 2011.

 She serves on the following WBA committees: Family Law, Young Lawyers Society (President-Elect for 2016-17, Student Intern Committee Bar Show and chorus and costume committee, and Wichita Bar Association 100th Anniversary Mini Bar Show. Campbell is also an associate representative of Wesley Brown Inn of Court in Wichita.

 She is also involved in community theater including the Wichita Shakespeare Company, Guild Hall Players, Wichita Signature Theater and the annual V-Day fundraiser for Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center.

 Shawn P Yancy is a 2011 graduate of Washburn University School of Law. During law school he served as a member of the student bar association and as a member of the ABA Law Student Division Board of Governors. Shawn also worked both at the Law Library at Washburn, and as a Law Clerk for the 3rd Judicial District Court while in law school. After graduation and passing the bar, Shawn began working as an Unemployment Insurance Appeals Referee with the Kansas Department of Labor. He continues to work for the Kansas Department of Labor as Unemployment Insurance Performance and Reporting Manager. 

 Shawn’s law-related education activities include volunteering with the Topeka & Shawnee County Youth Court since 2008, including assisting with attorney training, and judging college mock trials since 2009. They also include working with the Kansas High School Mock Trial program since 2009. In that time, he has served as a judge for competition, assisted with running the program, and acted as state coordinator and mock trial chair for two years during which he organized regional and state competitions, drafted the case materials, and organized volunteers to judge at those competitions.

 In 2015, Shawn was elected to the National High School Mock Trial Championship Board of Directors. Directors are entirely volunteers from around the country. In that role, he assists with running the national competition, drafting the National case, soliciting and vetting future national hosts, evaluating and updating competition rules, and managing the Board’s social media accounts. 

 Diversity Award

The KBA Diversity Award is only given to a law firm; corporation; government agency, department or body; law-related organization or other organization that has significantly advanced diversity by its conduct, as well as by the development and implementation of diversity policies and strategic plans.

 This award recognizes an individual who has shown a continued commitment to diversity; or a law firm; corporation; governmental agency, department, or body; law-related organization; or other organization that has significantly advanced diversity by its conduct, as well as by the development and implementation of diversity policies and strategic plans, which include the following criteria:

  • A consistent pattern of the recruitment and hiring of diverse attorneys;
  • The promotion of diverse attorneys;
  • The existence of overall diversity in the workplace;
  • Cultivating a friendly climate within a law firm or organization toward diverse attorneys and others;
  • Involvement of diverse members in the planning and setting of policy for diversity;
  • Commitment to mentoring diverse attorneys, and;
  • Consideration and adoption of plans to continue to improve diversity within the law firm or organization, whereas;
  • Diversity shall be defined as differences of gender, skin color, religion, human perspective, as well as disablement.

The award will be given only in those years when it is determined there is a worthy recipient.

 Kellie E. Hogan is Director of Children’s Advocacy at Kansas Legal Services where she has worked since 1997. Kellie received her Bachelor of Arts in political science summa cum laude and J.D. from The University of Kansas. Kellie was honored to receive the Chester I. Lewis Diversity Award in 2014. She received the Wichita Women Attorneys Association Louise Mattox Attorney of Achievement Award in 2013.

 In 2012, she was awarded the Jennie Mitchell Kellogg Attorney of Achievement Award by the Kansas Women Attorneys Association. In January 2011, the ABA selected Kellie to attend the ABA Bar Leadership Institute in Chicago on scholarship.  In 2008, she received a Wichita Bar Association President’s Award for her work with the Grow Your Own Lawyer Program, which she has chaired since 2000. Kellie is a member of the Wesley E. Brown Inn of Court and serves as attendance chair. In addition, she serves on the Ethics Committee, Continuing Legal Education Committee and was stage manager for the 2010, 2013, and 2016 bar shows. Kellie served on the Wichita Bar Association Board of Governors from 2011-2013 and is currently Vice-President.

Kellie has been a member of the Kansas Supreme Court Permanency Planning Task Force since 2001. She is a past president of the Wichita Women Attorneys Association and the Kansas Women Attorneys Association. In addition, she has been a member of the Kansas Bar Association since 1997. In 2008, she was named a Champion of Respect by the Wichita/Sedgwick County Coalition against Domestic Violence. She is the recipient of the Kansas Legal Services Elizabeth Ferguson Award for Outstanding Service to Clients. 

From 2006-2012, she taught Women and the Law at Wichita State University. Kellie is currently President of the Board for the Wichita Public Library. She serves on the board of Step-Stone and Dear Neighbor Ministries. Away from the office, she enjoys travel, volunteers for KMUW Wichita Public Radio, and is a season ticket holder at The Wichita Symphony, Music Theatre of Wichita, The Wichita Grand Opera, and Chamber Music at the Barn.


Outstanding Service Award

The Outstanding Service Award award is given for the purpose of recognizing lawyers and judges for service to the legal profession and/ or the KBA, and for recog­nizing non-lawyers for especially meritorious deeds or service that significantly advance the administration of justice or the goals of the legal profession and/or the KBA. This year, six attorneys were chosen to receive this award.


Susan A. Berson has over 20 years’ experience in handling tax matters. She began her career as a trial attorney in the Tax Division at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington D.C., where she received the Outstanding Attorney Award by the Attorney General in 1996 for her work representing the IRS. In 1998, Susan entered private practice, and has enjoyed representing taxpayers in a variety of industries and professions concerning their federal and state tax matters. Her husband and law partner, Dave, specializes in banking, corporate and small business law. Their firm, Berson Law Group LLP, handles banking, tax and small business matters. Both Susan and Dave have been honored to be included in the Business Journal of Kansas City’s annual “Best of the Bar” publication in the categories of Tax and Banking, respectively. Susan is also a Certified Mediator, and serves as a FINRA Dispute Resolution Program Arbitrator.


Susan is the author of many articles and four books: Federal Tax Litigation (Law Journal Press) which she is responsible for updating twice-a-year, Personal Finance for Professionals (2nd ed. ABA 2014), The Lawyer’s Retirement Planning Guide (2nd ed. ABA 2014), and is co-author of The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: From Legislation to Implementation to Litigation (ABA 2011).

A contributing columnist to the American Bar Association Journal Magazine, in 2014, Susan received a Bronze medal from the American Society of Business Press Editors for her writing. Coinciding with the topics in her books and articles, Susan enjoys speaking at legal, banking and professional association conferences. She also counsels other authors concerning royalties and contractual matters.

Susan is active in many professional and community organizations. Currently, she is a trustee on the Board of Trustees for the Kansas Bar Foundation, and Advisory Board member for the KBA Law Practice Management Committee, part of the KBA Law Office Management Assistance Program. Finally, Susan serves as the Past President of the Kansas Women Attorneys Association, and is a member of the Association of Women Lawyers in Kansas City.

Brett Milbourn has been involved as lead and co-counsel in several multi-million dollar local and national lawsuits for individuals and businesses. In state and federal courts, Brett has represented a diverse clientele in complex cases involving business and commercial litigation, class action consumer fraud, property disputes with constitutional implications, and breach of contract actions. He has been retained by State Treasurers, Attorneys General, and other state officials across multiple states in cutting-edge, unclaimed property litigation against the U.S. Treasury involving United States Savings Bonds, as well as litigation that involved, among other parties, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Brett has been recognized with the AV Premier (highest) rating from Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, as a Super Lawyer, Kansas and Missouri Super Lawyers Magazine, Best of the Bar, Kansas City Business Journal, and by The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Organization.

Brett has actively been involved in local and state bar associations, serving in a number of leadership positions and coordinating several community service projects.

Brett is a member of numerous professional associations, including the KBA, Kansas Association of Justice, Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association, and the Missouri Bar.  He is currently a member of the Tenth Judicial Nominating Commission, in Johnson County, Kansas having been twice elected (2012 and 2016) to the Commission by the 3,500 Kansas licensed lawyers that reside in Johnson County, Kansas.

Outside of his legal education and practice of law, Brett also has a background in journalism, having graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Kansas' William Allen White School of Journalism in 1983. Brett currently resides in Leawood, Kan.  He is active in local charities and has raised money for different charitable endeavors.  Brett is a 2001 graduate of the Leadership Kansas program sponsored by the State Chamber of Commerce and a 1991 graduate of the Leadership Overland Park program sponsored by the City's Chamber of Commerce.

Joseph N. Molina III is the director of legislative services for the Kansas Bar Association. Prior to joining the KBA, he was chief legal counsel for the Topeka Metropolitan Transit Authority, where his practice involved insurance subrogation, labor and employment law. He also previously served as an assistant attorney general, acting as the director of the Kansas No-Call Act, from 2002-06. Molina holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in political science, philosophy, and economics from Eastern Oregon University. He graduated from Washburn University School of Law in 2002. Molina is active in the National Association of Bar Executives where he served as chair of the Governmental Relations section from 2014-15.

Molina is a native of Hawaii, and moved to Kansas in 1999 to attend law school at Washburn. He is married to his lovely wife Malessa and has two sons, Jonah and Isaiah, and one “hanai” daughter, Vanessa. 

Shelley Sutton of Topeka is the Executive Director of the Kansas Continuing Legal Education Commission, a position that she has held since 1991. Prior to joining the Commission, she worked in association management, lobbying and public relations. Shelley is very active in the professional association of regulators of continuing legal education (CLEreg) and is a past president of the organization.

She has an undergraduate degree in communications is from Fort Hays State University and a graduate degree in communications is from Kansas State University.

Shelley has served on the boards of the Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation and The Leadership Institute-Women with Purpose. She has also been an adjunct professor at Washburn University.

Melissa Wangemann is General Counsel and Director of Legislative Services for the Kansas Association of Counties (KAC). Prior to joining KAC in the fall of 2008, she served as counsel to Kansas Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh for 12 years. Before joining the Secretary of State’s Office she worked in the private practice of law in Wichita and Topeka. 

Born and raised in Wichita, Melissa went to Wichita State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.  She received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Kansas in 1994. 

She is married to an attorney, Jared Maag, and has two children, Emma and James. 

C. Stanley Nelson continues as Of Counsel with Hampton & Royce, Salina, having joined its predecessor firm of Hampton. Royce, Dunham, Royce and Engleman in February 1951. Nelson grew up in Lawrence as his parents were in academia at the University of Kansas, and he earned his undergraduate and law degrees at KU after serving three years in the Marine Corps.Nelson’s main practice was in civil litigation and more recently he served as special administrative law judge for workers’ compensation. In 1978, he was inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers. During his years in Salina he also served on various boards and as president of the YMCA, the library board, the recreation commission, and the chamber of commerce which was primarily involved in economic development following the close of the air force base.

He believes that he is very privileged to be able to go to the office daily and be involved to some extent in legal matters.


Pro Bono Award

The Pro Bono is given for the delivery of direct legal services, free of charge, to the poor, or in appropriate circumstances, to charitable organizations whose primary purpose is to provide other services to the poor.


Jill Bremyer previously practiced with Bremyer & Wise (now Wise & Reber) law firm in McPherson, Kan., before starting her own adoption practice, Adoption Law LLC in 2009.

Jill received a master’s degree from Kansas State University in family and child development before pursuing a law degree at Washburn University. She has always felt privileged to be able to combine her interest in families with her law practice. 

Jill is active as a member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys since 1993, and is also a member of the Kansas Women Attorneys Association, the Kansas Bar Association, and the McPherson County Bar Association. 


Debra James is a member of the Salina firm of Hampton & Royce, L.C., where she has been a partner since 1990. She has a broad range of experience in litigation involving personal injury, commercial, business and employment disputes, agricultural law issues, and automobile liability and practices in both state and federal courts. Deb is a graduate of Iowa State University and Drake University Law School and is licensed in Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska

In 1997, Deb was appointed by the Kansas Supreme Court to the Kansas Board of Discipline

for Attorneys and served 17 years in that position. Since 1996, Deb has been a member of the

Professional Ethics and Grievance Committee of the Kansas Bar Association and has conducted

investigations of ethical complaints, when called upon, for 20 years. She has served on the Federal

Judicial Nominating Task Force and the Kansas Bar Association’s Membership and Fee Dispute

Resolution Committees. She is a Fellow of the Kansas Bar Association Foundation.

For six years, Deb served on the Board of Governors of the Kansas Bar Association for

District 6 and the Board of Governors for the Kansas Association of Defense Counsel. Deb is the

Past President of the Litigation Section of the Kansas Bar Association. She has also been an active

member of her community, serving two terms as President of the Board of Directors of the Salina

YWCA and two terms as President of the Great Plains Theater in Abilene, Kansas.

Deb also serves as a member of the Kansas Lawyer Assistance Program Foundation Board,

is a KALAP volunteer and mentor, and represents adoptive parents on a pro bono basis in cases

involving children adopted out of the foster care system in central Kansas.


Summer Ott Dierks is a partner in Seaton, Seaton & Dierks, LLP. She was born in Kiowa, Kan., raised in Coffeyville, Kan. and graduated from Kansas State University in 2005 Bachelor's degree in Agricultural Communications and Journalism.

Before attending law school, Summer worked at the Kansas State University Foundation fundraising for the College of Agriculture from 2005-2007. She then worked at the Manhattan Convention and Visitors Bureau as the Convention Sales Manager until 2010.

During law school, Summer clerked for the Honorable Steve Leben, Judge at the Kansas Court of Appeals as well as the Kansas Attorney General, Criminal Litigation Division.  She was also licensed to practice law as a student in the Washburn University Law Clinic. She was awarded her Juris Doctor in 2012 from Washburn University School of Law.

Practice Areas:
General Practice with an emphasis in Family Law, Estate Planning, Contract Law, Property Law and Farm & Agricultural Law.  Summer is also approved by the Kansas Supreme Court as a mediator in the areas of Core and Domestic.


Kansas (2013); U.S. District Court

B.S. Kansas State University (2005); J.D. Washburn University School of Law (2012)

Legal     Organizations:
Kansas Bar Association; Riley County Bar Association


In addition, ten* Pro Bono Certificates were given to honor attorneys who are employed full time by an organization that has the provision of free legal services to the poor; who have made a voluntary contribution of a significant portion of time to providing legal services to the poor without charge; and/or whose voluntary contributions have resulted in increased access to legal services on the part of low- and moderate-income persons.


Deena Hyson Bailey, Senior Employment & Labor Counsel at Cargill Inc., serves U.S. and international clients with a broad range of complex legal needs. Ms. Bailey provides advice and counsel on various topics, including employment law (ADAAA, FMLA, Title VII, ADEA, etc.), U.S. labor law (contract negotiation, union avoidance, grievance and arbitration), business ethics, employment-based agreements, immigration (compliance and business visas), wage and hour (including donning/doffing), Affirmative Action Plans, due diligence for M&A work, investigations, political and public relations strategies, and litigation management and strategy. She also served on the executive committee of the global Cargill Women’s Network. Ms. Bailey is a member of the Kansas Bar Association, including serving as CLE Committee President and Litigation Committee Chair. Ms. Bailey is an active member in the Kansas Women Attorneys Association, including as a past president and current board member.  She is also past president of the Wichita Women Attorneys Association, and was honored this year with the Louise Mattox Attorney of Achievement Award. Ms. Bailey invests her non-profit volunteer and pro bono time in women’s issues and has served on the board of Catholic Charities Harbor House Women’s Crisis Center, Dress for Success Wichita, the Pregnancy Crisis Center, as well as serving as pro bono counsel on the Protection from Abuse Docket in the Eighteenth Judicial District in Kansas. 


Barber Emerson, L.C. has committed itself as a firm to giving back to the community by helping those in need of pro bono representation. Attorneys from the firm assisted Kansas Legal Services at a legal outreach clinic concerning advance directives and tribal wills for Potawatomi Prairie Band Elders. Representation by Barber Emerson, L.C. associates have assisted with several complex contested custody matters, protection orders, a child in need of care case and arguments before the Kansas Court of Appeals. The firm has also provided representation to clients through the Kansas Bar Association’s Reduced Fee Program and Criminal Justice Act appointments for the 10th Circuit.


Kansas Legal Services nominated Barber Emerson, L.C.  for this recognition and stated that the firm’s attorneys “are dedicated to providing meaningful, quality assistance to Kansans, who otherwise would be unable to access the court.”


Mitch Christians was born and reared in Hays, Kan., the third of four sons of Robert and Bernita Christians.  He graduated from Hays High School in 1980, Kansas State University with Bachelor’s degrees in history and economics, and Washburn University School of Law in 1986. He practiced in Goodland for ten years after graduating from law school and moved to Salina in January 1997. His practice is almost exclusively criminal and juvenile defense. His immediate family includes his two daughters Crystal and Ashley; a grandson, Carbon; and, his loyal but very stubborn dog, Benson.


Angela Ferguson holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Kansas, conferred in 1986.  She began her career working for Kansas Legal Services in Topeka, working initially with victims of Domestic Violence and completing her work at KLS in the Wyandotte-Leavenworth Legal Services office working as an Elder Law Attorney. 


In 1989, Ms. Ferguson began working in the immigration field, first for the Howard Eisberg Law Firm and then, began her solo practice in 1991 in Kansas City, Kansas.  In 1998, the firm of Austin & Ferguson, L.L.C. was established in Kansas City, Missouri.  Throughout her career, Ms. Ferguson has been involved with the American Immigration Lawyers Association and local bar associations, providing legal education programs on various immigration issues.  She has served on the Essential Worker Committee, the Family Law Committee, Conference Planning Committees and the Department of Labor Committees for AILA National, and the Advocacy committee for the local Chapter. In 2008, she was given the National Advocacy Award by AILA for work opposing the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the Minutemen and FAIR.  Additionally, she taught Immigration law at Washburn Law School for several years and in 2009 helped establish an Immigration Law Clinic for the University of Kansas, focusing mainly on immigrant victims of domestic violence/crimes.


In 2014, when the surge of refugees started arriving on the U.S. Southern border, Ms. Ferguson volunteered as an Artesia Warrior, immigration lawyers who traveled to Artesia New Mexico to help defend the mothers and children against deportation.  The team of AILA lawyers worked around the clock to get the detention facility shut down and they succeeded in December 2015.  However, our government established a new “family” jail in South Texas and the AILA volunteer lawyers have continued the effort to provide competent free legal services to the women and children, who are seeking political asylum and protection from the drug cartels and violent gangs in Central America.  Ms. Ferguson coordinated a trip to Dilley, Texas and worked with 21 volunteers from Kansas and Missouri in 2016, and those volunteers have continued working off-site throughout this year, providing pro bono legal services on Bond hearings and Asylum trials.  Through her work as the Chair of the AILA MO/KS Chapter, Ms. Ferguson has helped raise funds to send another team to Texas and the work will continue until mothers and babies are no longer jailed when they seek protection in the U.S.


Joni Franklin has dedicated over 14 years of service to the KBA and the KBF, making these organizations a central part of her professional career.  She began her service in 2000 in the KBA Young Lawyers section serving on their board as representative to the KBF until 2002. After that, Joni served as the KBA Young Lawyers President and served on both the KBA Board of Governors and its executive committee from 2003-2004.  Based upon this service she was awarded the KBA’s Young Lawyer of the Year in 2005. She has continued her service through the KBF serving in offices for almost the past decade culminating in President of the Board in 2012-2013. She was also awarded the KBA’s Pro Bono Service Award in 2013.  She regularly appears on the Sedgwick County Protection from Abuse docket, where over the course of 19 years, she has represented hundreds of domestic violence victims in obtaining permanent restraining orders from their abusers. 


Joni enjoys an active practice in Wichita, Kan., including workers’ compensation, labor relations, and is also a Due Process Hearing Officer to the Kansas Board of Education. Her best achievement however, is of course her family. Joni has been married for 10 years to her lawyer husband, Aaron, and they have two fabulous kids, Gabe (9), and his little sister Lulu (7) – the family’s biggest adventure, when she adopted “them” in Vietnam 7 years ago.  Joni is so excited about the opportunity to serve again on the Board of Governors, and sincerely hopes you consider her with the honor of your vote.


Thomas C. (Tim) Owens is an Overland Park Attorney Emeritus and veteran state legislator.  He served three and a half terms in the Kansas House of Representatives before being elected to a term in the Kansas Senate in 2008.  Senator Owens chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, Redistricting Committee and was a member of numerous other committees including Education and Federal and State Affairs.  In 2010 Owens led the drive to reform health insurance to provide better coverage and services for Kansans with Disabilities and especially those on the Autism Spectrum.  For his success he was among four nationwide legislators honored with the Easter Seals Outstanding Advocate Award. In 2011, he directed the effort to rewrite the statutes dealing with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In June, 2011, The Kansas Bar Association honored Senator Owens with its award and resolution recognizing his “commitment, dedication and professionalism” in public service.


Senator Tim Owens and his wife live in Overland Park and have two adult sons and four grandchildren.  Senator Owens retired as a full Colonel from the U.S. Army Reserves in 1994, having served three years of active duty including a tour in Vietnam, and 23 years of active Army Reserve.  The Senator is a graduate of Kansas State University where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science a graduate of Washburn University School of Law where he received a Juris Doctorate degree in 1974, and a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan.


Senator Owens is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park and serves on numerous boards and committees in his retirement, including the Mainstream Coalition Board and the Friends Board of the Johnson County Developmental Services.


Cheryl Pilate: Since graduating from the University of Kansas School of Law in 1990, Cheryl Pilate has dedicated her law practice to the protection of individual rights and liberties. Cheryl’s diverse practice includes the representation of criminal defendants and the representation of plaintiffs in federal civil rights cases. Cheryl believes that when constitutional rights are threatened or an individual’s liberty is at stake, there is nothing more important than the dedication of a strong and effective advocate.


Cheryl is perhaps best known for her work on innocence cases, including obtaining the exoneration and release of persons convicted of crimes they did not commit. Over the years, she has worked thousands of hours for little or no compensation on behalf of innocent clients. Cheryl has also served for ten years on the board of the Midwest Innocence Project, an organization that advocates for and seeks the release of the wrongfully convicted. 


Cheryl’s practice also includes representation in capital cases. With her co-counsel, Cheryl has obtained relief for several defendants sentenced to death; she has also obtained life or lesser sentences for capitally charged defendants at the trial stage. Extending her advocacy to a broader sphere, Cheryl also served a term on the board of the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty.   


Cheryl also represents defendants in a wide variety of criminal cases, many of them court-appointed. Alongside her criminal defense work, she also represents plaintiffs in federal civil rights cases, primarily focused on violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. 


Cheryl received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. After graduating from the University of Kansas Law School, she served for two years as a law clerk to the late Honorable John R. Gibson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Following 15 years at the firm of Wyrsch, Hobbs & Mirakian, P.C., Cheryl joined Melanie Morgan in 2007 and founded Morgan Pilate LLC in Kansas City. 


Andrea Rothers-Boden graduated from Washburn University School of Law in May 2007. Shortly thereafter, she began working as a Research Attorney for the Kansas Court of Appeals. Andrea clerked for the Honorable Judge Stephen Hill for several years before joining Jurado-Graham Law Firm in 2014. Andrea practices primarily in the area of family immigration and removal defense. 


Samara Nazir Zaman is a partner at Felton and Zaman LLP.  She practices Estate Planning and Family Immigration Law.  Samara is licensed to practice in Missouri and Kansas.  She was named Kansas City Business Journal’s Best of the Bar in 2014, and honored as a Rising Star Attorney in Missouri and Kansas on Super Lawyers for 2015.  She is a member of the Association for Women Lawyers and the Missouri Bar Association.  She is a member of the Kansas Bar Association and serves on the KBA Diversity Committee.  She graduated with a J.D. from the University of Missouri - Kansas City School of Law.  She earned her B.A. in Religious Studies and a B.S. in Journalism, News and Information Emphasis from the University of Kansas.


*One Pro Bono Certificate awardee did not want to be recognized.





Meg Wcikham, Director of Member & Communication Services

Direct: (785) 861-8817

Main: (785) 234-5696


About the Kansas Bar Association

The Kansas Bar Association is a voluntary professional association comprised of 7,000 members dedicated to advancing the professionalism of its members, encouraging public understanding of the law, and promoting the effective administration of our system of justice.