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Kansas Bar Association Bestows Awards as Part of Virtual Annual Meeting​

Friday, August 21, 2020   (2 Comments)
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August 21, 2020


Stacey Harden, Executive Director or 785.234.5696

Kansas Bar Association Bestows Awards as Part of Virtual Annual Meeting

Topeka – The Kansas Bar Association today, as part of its first-ever virtual Annual Meeting made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic, announced the names of recipients of the organization’s 2020 KBA Awards.

KBA President for 2020-21 Charles Branson, Lawrence, commented, “These awardees are among our best, our brightest, our most dedicated and accomplished colleagues. We each owe them a debt for the service they provide to the profession through their excellence and achievement. I congratulate each individual, and I thank the 2020 awardees as a group. They stand among the giants the rest of us hope to emulate as we practice law in the state of Kansas.”

Retired Supreme Court Justice Lawton R. Nuss (Salina) was honored with the KBA’s Phil Lewis Medal of Distinction. The Medal of Distinction is reserved for individuals or organizations in Kansas who have performed outstanding and conspicuous service at the state, national, or international level in administration of justice, science, the arts, government, philosophy, law, or any other field offering relief or enrichment to others. The recipient need not be a member of the legal profession nor related to it, but the recipient’s service may include responsibility and honor within the legal profession. The award is only given in those years when it is determined that there is a worthy recipient.

Following service as a Marine Corps combat engineer and then KU law school, Nuss worked for 20 years as a trial attorney in his hometown of Salina, representing a range of plaintiffs and defendants in all types of cases.

Nuss was appointed to the Supreme Court by Governor Bill Graves in August 2002, becoming the first justice in nearly 25 years to move directly from the practice of law to the Court. He began serving as Chief Justice in January 2010. For the next 10 years, he presided over the Court while it exercised general administrative authority over all courts in Kansas. This included supervising approximately 300 judges and 1500 employees and administering an annual budget of around $145 million. During his career he also helped decide 17,000 cases and wrote more than 300 decisions.

His leadership was nationally featured in 2016 in both The New Yorker magazine article titled “The Political War Against the Kansas Supreme Court” and in a front page article of The New York Times. The Times noted that “Nuss . . . has emerged as a strong defender of judicial independence.” His leadership of the judicial branch during challenging times was additionally highlighted as the cover story of The Journal, the official magazine of the Kansas Leadership Center in Wichita.

At the invitation of their national organization, in 2019 Nuss presented a program to other states’ Chief Justices on “The Chief Justice’s Leadership and Policy Role.” He has also served, at the ABA’s request, as a panelist at several of their annual meetings: first regarding attacks on judicial independence, and last year on “Undermining the Courts.”

Nuss retired in December 2019.

Dennis Depew (Neodesha) was selected for the Pillars of the Community Award. The Pillars of the Community Award recognizes a Kansas lawyer with a minimum of 10 years active, non-specialized, general legal practice in a predominately low-density population area of Kansas and substantial practice in small or solo law firms or local government service.

Dennis Depew practiced for almost 32 years in his hometown of Neodesha. Since May of 2015, Dennis has served as the Deputy Attorney General for Civil Litigation. He and his wife Shirley continue to maintain their primary residence in Neodesha because of his civic and community involvement there. Son Derek is an Army JAG officer and son David is a graduate student at KU Engineering.

Dennis has held leadership positions in the KBA and KBF for 15 years, serving as KBA President in 2013-14 and on numerous committees of both organizations.

Some of his local activities include:

  • 21 years on the Neodesha School Board and was President of KASB.
  • Co-founder and president of the Neodesha High School Alumni Association Scholarship Fund since 1994, and helped raise its $1,250,000 endowment. In 2019, the Fund announced the Neodesha Promise scholarship program. This program will provide full tuition and mandatory fee scholarships for virtually all NHS graduates for up to 120 credit hours. The program includes traditional college, community college, vocational-technical programs, and other specialized training. Over time, this program will contribute tens of millions of dollars to graduates of NHS.
  • Secretary/Treasurer of the Griffith Family Charitable Foundation since 1989. He administers a scholarship program that offers all Neodesha High School graduates a renewable scholarship to attend college, trade school or vocational-technical school. That program has given over $2,000,000 in scholarships since its inception.
  • Secretary of the Neodesha Community Foundation for over 30 years. This group currently manages a $2,000,000+ endowment for the benefit of Neodesha’s Main Street area.
  • Managing trustee of the John C. “Bill” Reece Charitable Trust since 2005. Made lead gift of $1,000,000 that enabled the construction of the Wilson Medical Center in Neodesha.

Nick Badgerow (Prairie Village) was recognized with the 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. Only one Distinguished Service Award may be given in any one year. However, the award is given only in those years when it is determined that there is a worthy recipient.

In 44 years of practice, Nick Badgerow has handled a wide variety of lawsuits in state and federal courts, trying more than fifty jury cases to verdict, and representing corporations, governments, lawyers, law firms, and judges. A partner with Spencer Fane LLP, he has served as a special master, mediator and arbitrator, and has testified as an expert witness in more than 25 cases. Known for expertise in the areas of attorney ethics, professional responsibility, and professional liability, Nick has published more than 70 bar journal and law review articles, presented nearly 200 seminars, is the editor and a co-author of the KBA Ethics Handbook, and is one of the authors of the KBA Employment Law Handbook. Nick has served in a number of positions, including:

  • Kansas Judicial Council (1994 – 2018)
  • Co-Chair, Civil Justice Reform Act Committee, United States District Court – District of Kansas (1995–1998)
  • President, Earl E. O’Connor Inn of Court (1996–1997)
  • Kansas State Board of Discipline for Attorneys (2000–2016)
  • Chairman, Ethics 2000 Commission (2001–2002)
  • Member, Kansas Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism (2010–2013)
  • Chairman, Kansas Ethics 20/20 Commission (2013)
  • Chairman, KBA Ethics Advisory Opinion Committee (1997– 2005)
  • Chairman, Johnson County (Kansas) Bar Association Ethics and Grievance Committee 1989–2019).

Nick has received the KBA’s Robert L. Gernon Award (2011) and Outstanding Service Award (1995 and 2009).

In his non-professional life, Nick is an avid foxhunter, horseman, hiker, runner, reader, and is actively involved in the Boy Scouts of America. He and his wife of 44 years, Teresa, live in Prairie Village.

Martha Coffman (Douglas County) received the Professionalism Award which recognizes an individual who has practiced law for 10 or more 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 as identified by the KBA Hallmarks of the Profession.

Coffman is General Counsel for the Kansas Supreme Court Office of Judicial Administration. She previously served as Chief Advisory Counsel to the Kansas Corporation Commission and Director of the Kansas Court of Appeals Central Research Staff. Other legal experiences include serving as a research attorney for Kansas Supreme Court Justice Donald Allegrucci and as law clerk for United States District Judge Earl E. O’Connor. These distinguished jurists taught her how a decision in one case can impact the law. During the years she practiced in Lawrence, KS, Martha handled primarily criminal defense, family law, and whatever paid the bills.

After completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Kansas, Martha studied at the University of Pittsburgh, PA, receiving a master’s degree in anthropology. She followed her interest in how cultures resolve conflict and adapt to change back to the University of Kansas for her law degree. While in law school, she participated in the Paul E. Wilson Defender Project (now the Innocence Project) and served on the Kansas Law Review.

Martha loves to travel, but will always return to Kansas. She is a fifth generation Kansan, her ancestors having settled Douglas, Osage, Franklin, and Ford Counties. She lives in Douglas County with her husband, Patrick Curtiss, and their dog Finn.

Having served on the KBA Awards Committee, Martha knows recipients previously receiving the Professionalism Award and is honored to be associated with them. As an attorney, she has always sought to advocate for her clients while treating everyone with respect and curtesy. To the extent she has achieved that goal, she credits the example set by her father, the Honorable Floyd H. Coffman.

Chief Justice Marla J. Luckert (Topeka) was selected to receive the Christel Marquardt Trailblazer Award—the first to receive the award after it was bestowed upon Christel Marquardt herself last year at the award’s inception. The award honors exceptional KBA members who break new ground, shatter glass ceilings or pave new paths for others to follow. The award is bestowed upon a member who has made innovative contributions to improve the legal profession or our communities, exhibiting courage, leadership, professional excellence, and service to the profession in a manner that makes a substantial and positive impact on all those who follow in his or her footsteps. The Trailblazer Award will be given to a KBA member in years in which there is a worthy recipient.

Chief Justice Marla Luckert was appointed to the Kansas Supreme Court in 2003 and became chief justice in December 2019. She was the second woman appointed to the court and is the second woman to serve as chief justice.

Luckert was born in Goodland and received her juris doctor and bachelor of arts degrees—both with academic honors—from Washburn University. She served as an editor of the Washburn Law Journal and received the faculty and alumni awards for best student note. In 1980, Luckert joined Goodell, Stratton, Edmonds, and Palmer in Topeka. There were few women in private practice then, and in 1984, she was only the second woman to be named a partner of the firm. In 1992, Luckert was appointed a judge of the 3rd Judicial District. In 2000, she became the first woman in Kansas to be appointed a chief judge of a judicial district. Throughout her career, she has mentored women attorneys and high school students interested in legal careers.

Luckert has served as president of the Kansas Bar Association, the Kansas District Judges Association, and the Topeka Bar Association. She was a founding member and president of the Sam A. Crow Inn of Court, the Women Attorneys Association of Topeka, and the Kansas Women Attorneys Association.

She has received distinguished service awards and other awards from Washburn University, Washburn University School of Law, and the Kansas and Topeka Bar Associations; the Robert K. Weary Award from the Kansas Bar Foundation; achievement awards from the Kansas and Topeka Women Attorneys Association; the Hon. E. Newton Vickers Professionalism Award; and recognition by many community organizations.

Mike Heim (Topeka), was honored with the Distinguished Government Service Award. The Distinguished Government Service Award gives recognition to a Kansas judge or attorney who has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to government service.

Following graduation from St. Benedict’s College (now Benedictine College) with a degree in English literature and a timeout for the Marine Corps Reserve, Mike Heim was employed as a news reporter with the Topeka Capital-Journal. During his nearly three years as a reporter, he earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas and joined the Kansas Army National Guard, eventually becoming an artillery officer/general’s aide.

He was employed by the Kansas Legislative Research Department where he worked for 34 years until he joined the Revisor of Statutes office in 2006 where he currently works. He has staffed multiple legislative committees while working for the Kansas Legislature but has always staffed the local government committees.

He obtained a law degree, magna cum laude, from Washburn University School of Law in 1982 while working full-time for the Research Department. He began teaching municipal law as an adjutant professor at the law school in 1985 and has taught the class almost every year since. He began co-teaching the class with a friend, Don Moler, in the late 1990s. He used his notes for the local government law class as a basis for authoring Kansas Local Government Law, a legal treatise, first published in 1991 by the Kansas Bar Association and now in its sixth edition published by the League of Kansas Municipalities. He has authored several law review articles, participated in a number of CLE programs and acted as a legal consultant and an expert witness on occasion.

He has been married to Linda for over 52 years; they have six children and 10 soon to be 11 grandchildren.

The Honorable Julie A. Robinson (Kansas City) earned the 2020 Courageous Judge Award, given to a judge who has displayed exceptional courage in the face of adversity.

Robinson was appointed a United States District Judge for the District of Kansas in 2001. She is the first African American appointed to the federal district court in Kansas and the second woman. Judge Robinson became Chief Judge of her court in 2017, effectively becoming the chief executive officer of the court, with responsibility for the court’s operations and its 200 employees.

Judge Robinson was a U.S. Bankruptcy Judge from 1994 to 2001, the first female bankruptcy judge in Kansas and the second African American female bankruptcy judge in the nation. For eleven years before that, she was an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Kansas, litigating civil and criminal cases.

Judge Robinson has served the federal judiciary in a number of capacities. She currently serves on the federal judiciary’s Workplace Conduct Working Group and on the board of the Federal Judges Association. She chairs the Federal Judicial Center’s District Judge Benchbook Committee. She is a past chair of the Court Administration and Case Management Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States, a past Commissioner of the United States Supreme Court Fellows and was involved in developing Strategic Plans for the federal judiciary in 2010 and 2015.

Locally she is the chair of the board of Healing House of Kansas City, a faith-based recovery community, and has served in a variety of capacities as a member of the Church of the Resurrection United Methodist Church for 30 years. She is also a proud alumna of KU Law School, where she served as chair of the Board of Governors, taught trial practice, and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Deena Hyson Bailey (Wichita) was selected to receive the Diversity Award. It recognizes an individual who has shown a continued commitment to diversity; 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.

Deena, Senior Employment & Labor Counsel at Cargill, was nominated for the Diversity Award for commitment to cultivate a diverse, inclusive environment and promote the work of lawyers who are female, people of color, or LGBTQ. Cargill, an agriculture company at heart, strives to “intentionally drive change to create a more diverse and inclusive environment that reflects the world we feed.” Because a diversity commitment must be practical, not just aspirational, Cargill Law tracks not only the number of diverse lawyers assigned to its work, but also the time and substance of the work they perform. Deena starts all matter assignments with a discussion of assigning substantive work for diverse lawyers, including the development of diverse associates.

Deena was also recognized for her long commitment to women’s issues. From her work on the Cargill’s Women’s Council, to her Board of Directors work with Dress for Success, Harbor House Women’s Shelter, Wichita Family Crisis Center (current President), to serving Wichita Women Attorneys Association (past President) and Kansas Women Attorneys Association (past President), she has demonstrated a commitment to developing and ensuring opportunities for women. Deena has received the Louise Maddox Attorney of Achievement Award from the WWAA and the Jennie Mitchell Kellogg Attorney of Achievement Award from the KWAA. To help women lawyers connect in formal or informal mentoring relationships, she created a Mentoring Toolkit for KWAA. She also serves pro bono at the Sedgwick County Protection from Abuse docket with Kansas Legal Services. Deena and her husband Rick have three children, nine grandkids, several wonderful pets and they foster cats for a local rescue.

Lauren G. Hughes (McPherson) received the 2020 Outstanding Young Lawyer Award. This recognition is given annually to recognize the efforts of a KBA Young Lawyers Section member who has rendered meritorious service to the legal profession, the community, or the KBA.

Lauren is a member of the Wise & Reber, L.C. law firm in McPherson, Kansas. She is a Texas native, growing up in League City, Texas. She received her Bachelor of Arts in both English and American Studies from the University of Kansas in 2013 and her law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law in 2016.

While at KU Law, Lauren served as a Staff Editor for the Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy and served on the Editorial Board as a Staff Articles Editor. Lauren was elected as a Graduate Student Senator for KU’s Student Senate, volunteered with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program, and served as a Graduate Teaching Assistant for the undergraduate Business Law course.

Lauren practices in the areas of estate planning, estate and trust administration, and business law. She is currently Secretary/Treasurer of the KBA’s Young Lawyers Section. Lauren previously served as Co-Chair of the YLS Publication Committee, where she helped spearhead the inaugural YLS Issue of the KBA Journal (Vol. 88, No. 9). She also serves as Co-Chair for the Kansas Women Attorney’s Association Annual Conference. Lauren is a member of the McPherson, Wichita and Kansas Bar Associations. She is also a member of the Kansas and Wichita Women Attorneys Associations.

Active locally, Lauren serves on the Board of Directors for the McPherson County YMCA, the McPherson Public Library, and is president-elect of the McPherson Chamber of Commerce.

Six Kansas attorneys were chosen for the Outstanding Service Awards for 2020. They are: Diana Carlin Pierron (Lawrence), Pat Donahue (Lawrence), the Hon. Kellie E. Hogan (Wichita), Karen Kirk (Wichita), William J. “Bill” Rich (Topeka), and Amanda Stanley (Topeka).

Diana Carlin Pierron is professor emerita of communication and former associate provost at Saint Louis University. She was a professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas for 24 years and dean of the graduate school and international programs for seven. Dr. Carlin served on the advisory board for the Commission on Presidential Debates from 1987-2000 and created their DebateWatch voter education program which is 24 years old. She advised several new democracies on developing political debates. Diana served as chair of Kids Voting Kansas and Kids Voting USA. As vice chair of the Kennedy Center’s President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts, she brought theatre productions to over 8000 Kansas students. She currently serves as secretary of the Governing Board of Sister Cities Lawrence which supports student exchanges to Germany, Japan, and Greece and chairs club, district, and world Optimist oratorical contests. She is also an active Rotarian. KU recognized her with the Steeples Award for Service to the People of Kansas.

Pat Donahue grew up in Emporia and lives in Lawrence. He earned BA and MS at ESU (chemistry and physical science) and his JD from the University of Kansas (1979). He is admitted to practice in Kansas and Colorado and their Federal Courts. He is admitted to the Court of Appeals for Veteran’s Claims and to the US Supreme Court. He has over 30 years of experience representing Social Security disability claimants, veterans, and senior citizens throughout the US. Pat started law school when he was 33 years old after serving as a soldier, teacher and Boeing engineer. He is an alumni of Kansas Legal Services. Pat writes and gives presentations on Social Security, Veterans law, Elder Law and Non-profit Organizations. He is the former chair (the first chair) of the KBA Elder Law committee and the KBA Access to Justice Committee. He has served many years on the KBA CLE Committee. He is a past recipient of the KBA Outstanding Service Award (1984). Pat has served on boards of a number of non-profit and civic organizations and he is a long-time active Boy Scout leader. He served as an officer in the Marines in Vietnam.

Hon. Kellie E. Hogan was sworn in as Sedgwick County District Court Judge on April 24, 2020. A Wichita native, Judge Hogan earned her B.A. and Juris Doctor degrees from the University of Kansas. Earlier in her career, Judge Hogan was the Assistant Managing Attorney at Kansas Legal Services. Her primary practice focused in the areas of Child in Need of Care, Juvenile Offender, Guardianship, and Adoption. Hogan regularly served as a mediator in cases involving complaints filed with the Kansas Human Rights Commission alleging civil rights discrimination, employment discrimination and housing discrimination.

Judge Hogan is proud of her professional service through which she developed Regional Continuing Legal Education for juvenile court attorneys, trained new CASA volunteers on the role of the Guardian ad litem, recruited and supervised law student volunteers, mentored high school students, and authored the Child in Need of Care Chapter of the Kansas Bar Association Annual Survey of Kansas Law.

Karin Kirk was born and raised in Wichita and attended Wichita State University. She began her career in the legal community with the law firm of Foulston Siefkin LLP. She joined the staff of the Wichita Bar Association in 1986 and served in several different positions before being appointed executive director in 1998. In addition to being executive director of the Wichita Bar Association, she also served as executive director of the Wichita Bar Foundation, the Sedgwick County Law Library, the Sedgwick County Law Center, LLC and the Wesley E. Brown American Inn of Court.

During her career, Karin received a Wichita Bar Association Distinguished Service Award and President’s Award and has been chosen to receive the 2020 Liberty Bell Award from the Wichita Bar Association Young Lawyers Section. She is an Honorary Lifetime Member of the Kansas Bar Association.

Karin has just recently retired.

William J. “Bill” Rich worked for two years with the Wichita Legal Aid Society, joined the Washburn faculty in 1977, and retired in June as the James R. Ahrens Professor of Constitutional Law. For most of his 43 years at Washburn his teaching responsibilities focused on Constitutional Law, Jurisprudence, and related courses. He also served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Acting Dean and Interim Dean. Primary scholarship topics have ranged from prison reform and school desegregation to comparative analysis of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights, with ongoing work that includes annual updates to his Modern Constitutional Law treatise. Other activities have included 19 years of work as appointed counsel representing inmates challenging conditions in Kansas prisons, and more recent work with students from both Washburn and Free University of Tbilisi drafting amicus briefs for the Constitutional Court of Georgia.

Amanda Stanley is General Counsel at the League of Kansas Municipalities. Upon graduating from The University of Kansas School of Law in 2014, she began her legal career as a clerk to Judge Kim Schroeder. She then joined the League of Municipalities as a staff attorney and was soon promoted to General Counsel. Amanda has worked on countless pieces of legislation to help cities. She has travelled the state teaching classes for local officials, written an amicus brief for the Kansas Supreme Court, and updated numerous publications relied on by cities. Amanda has served the Kansas judicial branch by serving on two Judicial Council panels. She is the current President of the State League Counsel Board an Association of the International Municipal Lawyers Association

Amanda has chaired the KBA Diversity Committee for two years and has written numerous articles for the KBA Journal.

The Pro Bono Awards recognize lawyers or law firms that deliver direct legal services, free of charge, to the poor or, in appropriate instances, to charitable organizations who primarily provide other services to the poor. The entities selected for the Pro Bono Awards this year are The Crawford County Bar Association and the District Attorney’s Office of Wyandotte County.

The Crawford County Bar Association’s goal is to help meet the professional needs of its member lawyers, advance the administration of justice, and serve the local area. The Bar has provided monthly lunches and CLE opportunities for attorneys to participate in.

The Bar has become well known for its annual golf tournament and yearly banquet. A portion of the golf tournament proceeds help benefit the Child Exchange Center in Pittsburg, Kansas. The Bar has participated in local back-to-school drives with its members to help contribute school backpacks and supplies for local communities. Additionally, members have donated funds to purchase coats and Christmas presents for children and families.

Most recently the Crawford County Bar Association and the Pittsburg Kansas Legal Service Office opened 102 expungement cases for 55 individual client throughout 2019 for an expungement project. Ten attorneys volunteered and 31 expungements were completed and 21 are pending. Due to the work of the Bar, the City of Pittsburg Mayor Dawn McNay declared February 11, 2020 as Crawford County Bar Association Day to thank participating lawyers for volunteering in the expungement drive.

The District Attorney’s Office of Wyandotte County is proud to earn the Pro Bono Award. D.A. Mark A. Dupree, Sr., leads an office of over 60 employees and manages a significant budget each fiscal year. D.A. Dupree and his team of employees are implementing strategic and visionary policies to expand the function of the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office.

His administration has increased the felony trial conviction rate by 27 percent. D.A. Dupree has successfully created the first ever “Conviction Integrity Unit” in the state of Kansas, which is responsible for ensuring that convictions obtained previously still hold integrity today. His efforts for transforming the traditional manner in which District Attorney’s Offices have operated has been recognized nationally, with articles featured twice in the New York Times and interviewed on the nationally syndicated Roland Martin Show.

Community involvement is the bedrock of the Dupree Administration. It builds community trust, and that trust greatly assists in crime prevention and bringing justice. Mr. Dupree and his administration lead the way in speaking at schools, neighborhood watch meetings, church gatherings, and civic organizations. D.A. Dupree created the Brilliant Outstanding Leaders Determined to be the Difference (B.O.L.D.D) initiative. Assistant District Attorneys go into schools and work with high school students educating and exposing them to the legal process in a positive manner.

Dupree is married to his law school sweetheart and former law partner, Attorney Shanelle Dupree, and they have four beautiful and active children.

Pro Bono Certificates are awarded to lawyers who: are not employed full time by an organization that primarily provides free legal services to the poor; with no expectation of receiving a fee, have provided direct delivery of legal services in civil or criminal matters to a client or client group that has no resources to employ paid counsel; have voluntarily contributed a significant portion of time to provide legal services to the poor without charge; and/or lawyers whose voluntary contributions have resulted in increased access to legal services for low– and moderate–income persons. Attorneys selected for recognition this year are: Matt Ellis (Wichita), Joni Franklin (Wichita), Cyd Gilman (Wichita) and Tracy Spradlin (Kansas City).

Matt Ellis is Chief Counsel at Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC.  Ellis along with Melissa Brown, Associate General Counsel, co-chair the companies Pro Bono Initiative launched in 2018.  The Pro Bono Initiative’s vision is to use its legal resources to create opportunities for earned success among the least fortunate.  The Initiative works with Kansas Legal Service to help improve lives - and by extension, our communities- through expungement drives and other pro bono efforts.

Joni Franklin has been practicing law in the Wichita area for 24 years. Her practice areas are primarily in artificial reproductive technology law, labor relations and workers compensation.

Joni has dedicated a portion of her practice to pro bono representation on a regular basis, volunteering at the Sedgwick County Protection From Abuse Docket and Protection From Stalking docket for over 23 years. She has volunteered as both an attorney and mediator on both of these dockets, and has worked closely with members of the public from all walks of life – but typically impoverished and underserved populations. She also leads continuing legal education presentations providing these same pro bono services to her colleagues.

Cyd Gilman has spent almost 42 years representing indigent clients. After serving as a Legal Aid Society of Wichita lawyer for five years, she joined the Wichita Federal Public Defender Office in 1983, representing indigent clients charged with federal crimes for 30 years. In 2013, she joined Foulston Siefkin in Wichita as Special Counsel, where she represents retained clients under federal criminal investigation and charges, and also accepts federal criminal appointments. Expecting to retire in the near future, serving as the voice for the accused, powerless and poor has been the honor of her lifetime.

Tracy Spradlin is a partner at Spradlin Kennedy, LLC, a firm assisting those in both Missouri and Kansas with criminal and personal injury matters. Her passion for animal welfare, alongside her work as a criminal defense attorney, led her to the realization that oftentimes police budgets cannot accommodate protective gear for their service animals.

Going To The Dogs is an organization that works with law enforcement on both sides of the state line to raise money for K9 bullet/stab-proof vests and equip police vehicles with necessary K9 gear. Tracy has served as legal counsel to the board, assisting with their legal formation as a non-profit and aiding their fundraising since 2014. To date, they have provided more than 20 vests to local agencies, with each vest costing approximately $1,000.00.

Specially recognized by the KBA for her service to the members and staff of the organization was Karla Whitaker. Karla stepped in as Interim Executive Director of the KBA/KBF in January, not long before the reality of COVID-19 forced the KBA/KBF staff to switch gears and work from home, a situation—as for so many businesses and individuals—that was fraught with uncertainties, unknowns, and any number of challenges. Under her leadership, however, the KBA/KBF served as a first line of key information for members on how to navigate the stormy waters of pandemic with updates on any and all matters that might affect lawyers, their practices, their health, their well-being and their future. Karla Whitaker was given an Honorary Lifetime Membership to the KBA and earned the gratitude and approval of all who benefited from her efforts.

Karla served as the Interim Executive Director of the Kansas Bar Association and Kansas Bar Foundation from January through July of 2020, returning to the Association after her work as a KBA staff member through the 1990s—as Media Relations and Marketing Director, CLE Director, and Associate Executive Director. Since her tenure at the KBA, Karla spent most of her professional career at Washburn University School of Law, serving as Director of Admissions recruiting new law students, then further at Washburn University Foundation as the Development Director for the Law School. In that role, Karla helped lead the campaign for a new law school building on campus in Topeka; construction is expected to begin next year.

With the realities of a global health crisis and the ongoing need for social distancing, the KBA reimagined and rearranged its traditional KBA Annual Meeting schedule to focus on this historic year of celebrating voting rights as well as current and important legal issues related to the pandemic. The Annual Meeting was held virtually, Thursday, August 20th, from Noon to 4:45 p.m. and Friday, August 21 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It featured opening remarks from Governor Laura Kelly, a keynote address on the State of the Judiciary in Kansas from Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Marla J. Luckert and a number of special presentations for which members could earn Continuing Legal Education credits.




About the Kansas Bar Association
Founded in 1882, the Kansas Bar Association is a voluntary professional association comprised of nearly 6,000 members, including lawyers, judges, law students, paralegals and paralegal students. The KBA is dedicated to advancing the professionalism of its members, encouraging public understanding of the law, and promoting the effective administration of our system of justice.



Robert R. Hiller Jr says...
Posted Thursday, September 10, 2020
Looking forward to another great annual meeting....September of 2021 ...with the district judges !
Robert R. Hiller Jr says...
Posted Tuesday, September 1, 2020
Congrats to all award winners !