The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law on Wednesday announced the winners of its 2021 Alumni Awards to be presented during a celebration Dec. 17.
This year, the Distinguished Graduate Award, the Mary Ellen Barbera Judicial Excellence Award, the Benjamin L. Cardin Public Service Award, the Rising Star Award and the Star Award were given to alumni, and were selected by members of the Alumni Board Awards Committee and confirmed by the Alumni Board.
Christine A. Edwards was given the Distinguished Graduate Award; the Mary Ellen Barbera Judicial Excellence Award went to the Hon. Alexander Wright, Jr.; the Benjamin L. Cardin Public Service Award will be presented to Michelle Daugherty Siri; and the Rising Star Award; and the Star Award will go to Marshall E. Jackson Jr. and Elva E. Tillman.
Edwards, a 1983 Carey graduate, is a recently retired partner and chair of the Bank Regulatory practice at Winston & Strawn in Chicago and regarded as a leading financial services attorney in the nation. She began her career at Morgan Stanley where she achieved the distinction of becoming the first female general counsel on Wall Street. She went on to become executive vice president and chief legal counsel at Bank One before moving to Winston & Strawn from 2003 until her retirement in early 2021. She recently joined a woman owned consulting firm the Red Bee Group Consulting (RBG Consulting) and serves as a consultant to public company boards of directors, CEOs, and chief legal officers.
Throughout her career, Edwards has sought to give back to the law school, the institution so integral to her education and success. She joined the Board of Visitors in 1995 and was selected to chair the Board of Visitors—the first woman to do so—from 2011 to 2015. She also established, in 1999, a first-of-its-kind Edwards Scholarship fully funding women students—selected by the Law School—throughout their three years of law school. To date, there have been over eight Edwards Scholarships awarded. She has also served on public company boards including BMO Financial Group (Bank of Montreal) where she chairs the Governance Committee; and nonprofit boards, including her role as vice chair of the Board of Rush System for Health in Chicago.
For her many contributions to the legal profession, Edwards has been widely recognized. She was one of Fortune magazine’s “Most Powerful Women in Business,” was featured in the book, Courageous Counsel: Conversations with Women General Counsel in the Fortune 500, was named in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, in Directors & Boards as one of 20 “Directors to Watch,” and as an Illinois Super Lawyer. She is the winner of the Chicago Finance Exchange President’s Award, the National Law Journal: Regulatory and Compliance Trailblazer, Inside Counsel Magazine: Transformative Leadership Award: Mary Ann Hynes Pioneer Award, and the University System of Maryland Women of Distinction Award: Pioneer Award.
Her passion has been helping other women achieve success in their careers and in being selected for public company board positions. She served as the first chair of the Women on Boards Committee for The Chicago Network and currently serves as co-chair of the Chicago Chapter of Women Corporate Directors.
Wright, a 1974 graduate, won the Mary Ellen Barbera Judicial Excellence Award, presented to an alum who exemplifies the highest standards of judicial excellence, displays extraordinary courage, energy, and tenacity in the handling of controversial and difficult cases as well as embodies strength of character, service and competence as a jurist, lawyer, and public servant.
He served in the judiciary for 26 years, retiring in 2019 from the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. Upon law school graduation, he served in the U.S. Army then assumed his duties as an assistant public defender in Baltimore. In 1979, he became an assistant attorney general at the Department of Personnel and then principal counsel to the Department of Employment and Training, the Department of Economic and Employment Development and, finally, chief counsel, Courts.
Gov. William Donald Schaefer appointed him to the Maryland District Court, Baltimore County in 1993 and, in 1998, he was appointed to the Baltimore County Circuit Court, the first Black to serve on that court. After two terms, Wright joined Miles and Stockbridge, P.C. as a partner and served as a visiting professor for Catholic University in Poland. Gov. Martin O’Malley appointed him to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland in 2008.
Wright has been recognized with the Judge Harry A. Cole Leadership Award, Black Professional Men’s Inc. Community Award, and listed in Maryland’s Legal Elite Baltimore Smart CEO Magazine and in Maryland Super Lawyers for alternative dispute resolution. He has served and led on boards for multiple organization, including the Baltimore County Bar Association, Hannah More School, Paul’s Place Outreach Center, Franciscan Center, and the Urban Resource Foundation. Additionally, Judge Wright is a popular speaker and lecturer, presenting at the National Institute of Trial Advocacy for the Maryland State Bar Association and the Dickerson School of Law. He now serves as a member of Archdiocesan Pastoral Counsel and the Independent Review Board for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Siri, a 2002 graduate, won the Benjamin L. Cardin Public Service Award, presented to an alum who has demonstrated significant and substantial contributions to furthering ideals of public service in the law.
Since 2015, Siri has been executive director of the Women’s Law Center of Maryland, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to ensuring the physical safety, economic security, and bodily autonomy of women across Maryland. Siri began her career as a law clerk in the Baltimore City Circuit Court followed by a stint in the private sector and a position advising the Department of Juvenile Services in the areas of labor and employment law as an assistant attorney general.
She was recently appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan to the Maryland Equal Pay Commission. Siri is also president of the Board of Directors for the Maryland Legislative Agenda for Women, vice president of the Board of Directors for the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, a member of the Executive Council for the Baltimore County Bar Association and the MSBA Delivery of Legal Services Section Council. Formerly, she was chair of the board for Planned Parenthood of Maryland.
Siri has been awarded The Women’s Bar Association’s Rita C. Davidson Award, the Baltimore County Bar Association’s Judith P. Ritchey Award, the Daily Record’s Leadership in the Law award, and is a member of the Daily Record’s Circle of Excellence for having been named three times to Maryland’s Top 100 Women.
A longstanding member of Maryland Carey Law’s Alumni Board, she served as president in 2019.
The Rising Star Award, given to Jackson, a 2013 graduate, recognizes a recent graduate whose exemplary contributions of service and leadership, either professionally or at Maryland Carey Law.
Jackson is a partner at McDermott Will & Emery, where he focuses his practice on transactional and regulatory counseling for clients in the healthcare industry, and advises clients on the legal, regulatory and compliance aspects of digital health. Prior to joining McDermott, he was an associate in the health care and life sciences practice group of Epstein Becker & Green P.C., in Washington.
At Maryland Carey Law, he concentrated in health law, served as senior articles editor of the Journal of Health Care Law and Policy and as captain of the National Trial Team. Prior to law school, after graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point, Jackson was a Medical Service Corps officer in the U.S. Army, including serving in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The Star Award, given to recognize the unsung heroes among the alumni population, went to Tillman, a 1987 graduate, those alumni who volunteer for Maryland Carey Law behind the scenes with little fanfare and who are steadfast in their support, loyal in their hearts and deserving of special recognition. This year’s winner is Elva E. Tillman ’87.
Before retiring in 2016, Tillman served as principal counsel for the City of Baltimore’s Department of Law Condemnation Group since 2001. Previously, Tillman’s diverse professional career included serving as an administrator, urban planner, applied researcher, university professor and lawyer.
As an urban planner she coordinated the City of Baltimore’s capital improvements program, served as the Housing Administrator for Howard County, Maryland and as coordinator of the City and Regional Planning Program (CRP) at Morgan State University. As an applied researcher in the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State, she also facilitated efforts to obtain grants of more than $1 million to provide resources for scholarships, internships, books/supplies and travel to support the students in the CRP program. As a lawyer, Tillman represented the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore before the District and Circuit Courts of Baltimore and at the State of Maryland appellant level. She has argued cases before both the Maryland Court of Special Appeals and the Court of Appeals.
Throughout her career, Tillman has held memberships and served on boards of multiple civic and legal organizations, including the Alliance of Black Woman Attorneys, American Bar Association, Baltimore City Bar Association, Baltimore City Bar Foundation Board, Maryland State Bar Association Monumental Bar Association, National Bar Association, American Business Women’s Association, and American Planning Association.
She has been recognized with numerous honors and awards, including Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland, Pro Bono Service Award; Bar Association of Baltimore City, Government and Public Interest Lawyers—Lawyer of the Year Award; Bar Association of Baltimore City, Charles Dorsey Mentor Award, MSBA Retired Lawyer, Pro Bono Award; Bar Association of Baltimore City Senior Legal Services, Volunteer of the Year Award; Alliance of Black Women Attorneys of Maryland, honored as a Leader in the Community; and University of Maryland, Baltimore, Catalyst for Excellence Award.
Tillman is currently engaged in research, writing, and pro bono and volunteer legal work. She has published articles and book chapters on urban planning and land use law and co-authored self-help and art books.
She was also a longtime member Maryland Carey Law’s Alumni Board until 2020.