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Six Honored at 2015 Alumni Awards Luncheon

October 28, 2015

Six Honored at 2015 Alumni Awards Luncheon

Dean Daniel B. Rodriguez honored six alumni for their accomplishments and contributions to the Law School at the third annual Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Alumni Awards Luncheon. This year’s ceremony included the presentation of the Distinguished Alumnus Award to the Honorable Horace Ward (JD ’59). Held on October 23 as part of Alumni Weekend and Reunion 2015, the ceremony brought together more than 120 alumni, faculty, administrators, families, and friends to honor alumni for their career accomplishments, dedication, and service to the Law School.

The 2015 Alumni Award Recipients

Distinguished Alumnus Award

The Honorable Horace Ward

Horace Ward (JD ’59) received the Distinguished Alumnus Award, given to a graduate for extraordinary contributions to the legal field. After graduating from Northwestern Law, Ward returned to his native Georgia where he went on to have a trailblazing legal career. In 1960, Ward was part of a legal team that won a victory in the Georgia Court of Appeals, which secured the release of Martin Luther King Jr. from the Georgia State Prison after he had been arrested during a sit-in demonstration. In 1961, after previously being denied admission himself to the University of Georgia School of Law, he represented Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter, two African-American students, in the lawsuit that forced the University to desegregate. Ward was the second African-American ever elected to the Georgia State Senate and the first African-American to become a Superior Court judge in Georgia. He was appointed to the federal bench in 1979 by President Carter, and served as a US District Judge in the Northern District of Georgia until 2012.

Emerging Leader Award

Keating Crown and Esther Joy King

Keating Crown (JD-MBA ’11) and Esther Joy King (JD-LLM Tax ’13) received the Emerging Leader Award, presented in recognition of career achievements by a graduate from the last 10 years.

After graduating with his JD-MBA, Crown joined Chicago-based real estate development firm Sterling Bay, where he focuses on adaptive reuse conversions of functionally obsolete buildings. He serves on the board of the 606 Leadership Council, which raised $20 million to create the park and trail that runs along the old Bloomingdale train line, and was recently named fundraising co-chair of an effort to raise another $20 million to expand the trail. He is also on the boards of the National September 9/11 Memorial and Steppenwolf Theatre. Crown was named one of Crain’s Chicago Business’ “40 Under 40” in 2014.

After graduating, King worked as an associate with Kirkland & Ellis’ commercial real estate practice before joining the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity in 2015. King currently serves as director of entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology with the department, where she officially represents Illinois to the business community. Her portfolio of work includes courting companies, liaising with other state government departments, and supporting the state’s growing entrepreneurial technology landscape.

Volunteer Service Award

Steven Elrod

Steven Elrod (JD ’82) received the Volunteer Service Award for his continued commitment to the Law School. Elrod is executive partner of Holland and Knight’s Chicago office and the chairman of the firm’s National Land Use and Government Team. He is the corporation counsel for the City of Highland Park, Ill., and the village attorney for the Villages of Northbrook, Glencoe, Lincolnwood and Carpentersville, Ill. He serves as an adjunct professor at the Law School, winning the 2013 award for Outstanding Adjunct Professor from the Student Bar Association. Elrod is also treasurer of the Chicago Bar Association and serves on the board of the Chicago Bar Foundation.

International Alumnus Award

The Honorable Paul Lemmens

Paul Lemmens (LLM ’78) received the International Alumnus Award, presented in recognition of international career achievements. Lemmens serves as the Belgian judge at the European Court of Human Rights, after being elected in 2012. He was previously a judge at the Belgian Council of State, a member of the UNMIK Human Rights Advisory Panel in Kosovo, and a professor of international human rights at KU Leuven in Belgium, where he founded the Faculty of Law’s Institute for Human Rights, now part of the Leuven Institute for Human Rights and Critical Studies. He was a visiting professor at Northwestern Law in 1999.  

Dawn Clark Netsch Award for Public Service

Russlynn Ali

Russlynn Ali (JD ’97) received the Dawn Clark Netsch Award for Public Service. Ali serves as managing director for education of the Emerson Collective, an LLC dedicated to improving public education, advancing immigration reform, and supporting social innovation, and CEO of the XQ Institute, a collaboration dedicated to rethinking school in America. Ali previously served in the Obama administration as assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education. Prior to that, she worked for the Education Trust, the Children's Defense Fund, the Broad Foundation and the Los Angeles Unified School District's Board of Education. She has also taught at the University of Southern California Law Center and the University of California, Davis.