Awards to be Presented at the Women in Law Conference

By Tiece I. Dempsey and Kimberly K. Hays

The Mona Salyer Lambird Spotlight and the Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Diversity Awards will be presented at the Women in Law Conference luncheon on Friday, Oct. 21, at 11:40 a.m. The event will be held at the Embassy Suites Downtown/Medical Center, 741 North Phillips Ave., in Oklahoma City.

The conference theme this year is “Just Dessserts: The Sweet Rewards of Civic Service.” The program includes keynote speaker Jo-Ellan Dimitrius and her presentation of “How to Understand People and Predict Their Behavior.” The CLE portion of the event will offer six hours of education including one hour of ethics. To register and for more information go to tinyurl.com/OCT21WILC. 

MONA SALYER LAMBIRD SPOTLIGHT AWARD RECIPIENTS
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the presentation of the Mona Salyer Lambird Spotlight Awards. Since 1996 the Spotlight Awards have been given annually to five women who have distinguished themselves in the legal profession and who have lighted the way for other women. The award was later renamed to honor 1996 OBA President Mona Salyer Lambird, who died in 1999, was the first woman to serve as OBA president and was one of the award’s first recipients. The award is sponsored by the OBA Women in Law Committee. The 2016 recipients are:

Jennifer Castillo
Jennifer Castillo, a 2002 graduate of the OCU School of Law, is an attorney with OG&E. She previously worked in the Oklahoma City office of Hall Estill practicing in the areas of administrative law, bankruptcy and creditors’ rights, general civil litigation and ad valorem tax matters. She was chair of the OBA Young Lawyers Division in 2012. Ms. Castillo is currently serving as OBA Awards Committee chair and secretary and treasurer of the Oklahoma Bar Foundation. She will serve as OBA vice president in 2017. She is also a member of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg American Inn of Court.

Judge Sheila Condren
Judge Sheila Condren currently serves as district judge for the 12th Judicial District consisting of Rogers, Mayes and Craig counties. Judge Condren was first appointed to the bench in 2000 as a special judge and was later appointed by the governor in 2006 as the associate district judge for Rogers County; a position she held until she was elected as district judge beginning in 2015. 

She is a 1987 graduate of the TU College of Law where she was a staff member of the Energy Law Journal. Before taking the bench, she worked as a law clerk for a board of administrative appeals judge with the United States Department of Labor in Washington, D.C., was in private practice and also worked for the state of Oklahoma in the area of child support enforcement. 

While working as an attorney, the Oklahoma Child Support Enforcement Association awarded her Attorney of the Year and Member of the Year. Tulsa People magazine named her to its Shining Star list for her advocacy on behalf of child support enforcement. She was also nominated for the Paragon Award for her community service in the area of domestic violence.

She is a past president of the Hudson-Hall-Wheaton Chapter of the American Inns of Court, and is a past chair of the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Advisory Council. She also spearheaded the effort to build the new Rogers County Courthouse, and co-chaired the citizen committee that recommended construction of the new facility. 

Eileen Echols
Eileen Echols was an Oklahoma family law trailblazer. She and her husband David founded Echols and Associates. She was also a special district judge in Oklahoma county from 1989 to 1994. She was awarded Family Law Judge of the Year in 1991 and 1993. 

She started her career as a special education teacher and realized she could do more for children and families if she were a family law attorney. She went to law school and earned her J.D. in 1979. She focused on making a difference for children and used her talents for special needs and special education for her position on the probate bench and contributions to the Family Law Section. She was an administrative law judge for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and a governor’s appointee to the Child Welfare System Reform Review Committee. 

She passed away June 30. She received recognition for service to judicial education by the Supreme Court of Oklahoma and Gov. Keating as well as numerous trial advocacy awards and accolades. 

Judge Dana Kuehn
Judge Dana Kuehn was elected to serve in 2006. She presided over a felony docket and currently calls a civil docket. Judge Kuehn served as chief of the civil division from 2010 to 2012 and is presently the chief. She teaches the juvenile law and evidence workshop at the TU College of Law, of which she is a graduate. She was president of the alumnae board and Outstanding Junior Alumnae.

Prior to taking the bench she was a felony prosecutor for almost 10 years with the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office heading the Crimes Against Children Unit and serving as chief of the juvenile division. She was an associate with the firm of Steidley and Neal from 1999 to 2000. She was a OSU College of Arts and Sciences top-10 graduate, a member of Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority of which she was president and a Spirit Squad member from 1989 to 1992.

Judge Arthur Lory Morris Rakestraw
Arthur Lory Morris Rakestraw was an Oklahoma County district judge. Judge Rakestraw passed away in 1994. She graduated from Oklahoma College for Women with a pre-law degree, received her J.D. from the OU College of Law and a M.Ed. from the College of William and Mary in Virginia. She was married in 1941 to the late Col. Bryan Rakestraw, a career Air Force officer, and spent the next 25 years as a loving mother, wife and community volunteer. 

She returned to Oklahoma City upon her husband’s retirement from the Air Force and began her legal career with the Legal Aid Society of Oklahoma County, where she served as a staff lawyer and executive director for nine years. She was appointed as a county special judge in 1975 and was elected as a county district judge in 1978, where she served until her retirement in 1989. Throughout the years, she has received many community and professional awards, most notably the Outstanding Woman in Law from Iota Tau Tau, the National Legal Sorority, Woman of the Year from the 10th District Business and Professional Women and the Journal Record Award as the 1986 Outstanding Member of the Bar.

ADA LOIS SIPUEL FISHER DIVERSITY AWARD RECIPIENTS
The OBA Diversity Committee will present the Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Diversity Awards. Six individuals and organizations will be honored in recognition of their efforts in promoting diversity and inclusion in Oklahoma. The Diversity Committee will recognize the following individuals and organizations that have outwardly demonstrated that “Diversity Matters in Oklahoma.” 

Judge Bernard Jones
Judge Bernard M. Jones II was appointed United States magistrate judge for the Western District of Oklahoma on July 31, 2015. With his appointment, Judge Jones became the first African-American in the state of Oklahoma and only the second African-American in the six-state 10th Circuit to serve in this capacity. 

Immediately preceding his service to the federal bench, he was a district judge for Oklahoma’s 7th Judicial District. Initially appointed by Gov. Mary Fallin on Oct. 1, 2012, he was subsequently elected without opposition to a full four-year term. As district judge, he was assigned to the family and domestic relations and civil dockets and he exercised oversight of the district’s Drug and Mental Health Court programs. He also served as a member of the Oklahoma Access to Justice Commission, which was established by the Oklahoma Supreme Court to develop and implement initiatives designed to expand access to the civil justice system. 

He began his legal career as an associate practicing both commercial and labor and employment law, first at Porter Wright Morris and Arthur LLP in Columbus, Ohio, and later at McAfee and Taft. The OCU School of Law recruited him from his successful litigation practice to the administrative faculty, where he attained the rank of associate dean. During his tenure in academia, he accepted appointments to serve on the Oklahoma Board on Legislative Compensation as well as the Board of Adjustment for the city of Oklahoma City. He is the first African-American to serve in either capacity. 

April M. Fox
April M. Fox is the associate dean, director of admissions at the TU College of Law. Dean Fox holds a B.A. in English from TU and a J.D. from the TU College of Law. Prior to joining the TU College of Law administration team in 2001, she practiced in areas of property, corporate and immigration law. 

During her tenure at TU she has served as chair and original founding member of the College of Law’s Diversity Committee, member of the TU International Students’ Subcommittee for the American Council on Education’s Internationalization Laboratory and panelist speaker at the Law School Admission Council’s Annual Conference. Over the years, she has led the college’s efforts to host numerous events designed to promote greater diversity within the legal field and in 2009 she was named recipient of the TU Law Women’s Law Caucus Fern Holland Award. 

Her publication and volunteer activities include that of active ambassador for Tulsa’s Saint Francis Children’s Hospital, service in the TU’s True Blue Neighbor Program and contributor to the ABA Publication Lawyers, Lead On. 

Stephanie Conduff
Stephanie Conduff is the founder of Leche Lounge, which is a Native woman-owned company that provides businesses a solution for mother’s rooms as are required under law. Working at a large law firm and traveling for clients and to CLEs forced her to pump milk for her newborn daughter in restrooms and shared hotel rooms. She knew there was a better solution for our communities and that she could help create jobs in Indian Country. She was named a Pinnacle Award Top 10 Women of the Year by the YWCA and the Mayor’s Commission in the Status of Women for her work empowering women and eliminating racism.

She has more than 10 years’ experience living and working in indigenous communities in North America and internationally in South Africa, Canada, Latin America and Europe. She graduated from the OU College of Law. While at OU she served as a judicial clerk for a tribal court Supreme Court justice. She is certified to assist tribal courts as a peacemaker. She has a MPP from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. 

From managing $350 million of annual federal appropriation requests on Capitol Hill to working on mergers and acquisitions for a $750 million diversified business portfolio, she has experience in law, policy development and business development. She worked for her tribal government to diversify their industries and create jobs for tribal citizens throughout Indian Country.

ONEOK
Originally founded in 1906 as an intrastate natural gas pipeline business in Oklahoma, today ONEOK is one of the nation’s premier energy companies and is included on the Fortune 500 and in Standard and Poor’s 500 Stock Index.

ONEOK is passionate about building a diverse workforce, fostering an inclusive workplace and supporting the diversity efforts in the communities in which its employees live and work. While valuing diversity has been a priority at ONEOK for many years, nearly two years ago ONEOK launched a companywide diversity and integration strategy as one of its key corporate initiatives as envisioned by the Board of Directors and CEO Terry Spencer. Through this effort, membership more than doubled from 222 to 538 employees. 

Crowe & Dunlevy Diversity Committee
The Crowe & Dunlevy Diversity Committee was founded in 2000 by attorneys William H. Hoch and Jimmy K. Goodman. The committee values the strength that women, minority and LGBTQ lawyers add to the fabric of the firm. The Diversity Committee focuses on how to best foster the recruiting, retention and professional development of attorneys, regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation. The committee evaluates how diversity makes Crowe & Dunlevy a better firm and how it may best be used to serve the firm’s existing clients and develop relationships with potential new clients. It also seeks to retain and advance the careers of women and minority lawyers within the firm.

The firm has long supported diversity initiatives at the national and local levels. In 1999, the firm was a founding member of the American Bar Association (ABA) Legal Opportunity Scholarship, created for the purpose of assisting talented young minority students in completing their legal studies. 

The firm has historically been a sponsor of the ABA Spirit of Excellence Awards Luncheon, at which lawyers and others are recognized for their works in creating diversity in the legal profession and advancing justice for minority Americans. Additionally, the firm encourages and supports an attorney who serves annually as a coach for the Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Chapter of the Black Law Students Association at the OU College of Law’s Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition team. 

Oklahoma City Community College- Students Connecting With Mentors for Success Mentoring Program
In order to address the national statistic that over 80 percent of students who attend a community college never graduate, OCCC inaugurated a mentoring initiative. The purpose of the Students Connecting with Mentors for Success program is to improve the academic achievement, retention and graduation rates of its students, with the goal of preparing them to transfer to a four-year university or successfully enter the workforce. 

OCCC is achieving this by providing professionals from the community to serve as mentors and provide one-on-one supportive relationships to its students. Mentors offer advice, insight and guidance to mentees regarding academic and professional pursuits and general life matters. Students must be coachable, cooperative and willing to be held accountable by mentors. Mentors may use their personal contacts to help mentees meet industry professionals, find internships and locate job opportunities.


ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Tiece Dempsey chairs the OBA Diversity Committee. She is a judicial law clerk for Chief Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange, United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. 

Kimberly K. Hays is a family law attorney who practices in Tulsa and served as the 2015 OBA Women in Law chairperson. She has held many OBA and Tulsa County Bar Association leadership positions, including a term on the OBA Board of Governors. She has a bachelor’s degree from OSU and a law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law.

Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal -- OBJ 87 pg. 2000 (Oct. 15, 2016)

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