March 18, 2022

Students and alumni posing for a photo

On Wednesday, March 16, 2022, Catholic Law’s Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA), Black Law Students Association (BLSA), and Latin American Law Students Association (LALSA) hosted the First Annual Diversity Leadership Alumni Awards Reception. Students, faculty, and guests gathered together in the Walter A. Slowinski Courtroom to celebrate this year’s awards recipients. Recipients of the APALSA, BLSA, and LALSA Alumni Awards represent outstanding alumni who were once members of these wonderful student organizations. The reception aimed to celebrate the recipients’ accomplishments and recognize their contributions to their industries or professions, as well as their service to the community and their continued support for Catholic Law.

Shani Butts ’03, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Chief Diversity Officer, kicked off the event with a few welcoming remarks and a few words about the work of Catholic Law’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council. She then turned the program over to Dean Stephen Payne who offered some remarks. He gave special thanks to the honorees for joining the Catholic Law community on campus for the occasion. Dean Payne noted that all three of the recipients are “true public servants” and he thank them for the “example that [they] set for all of us, especially for our students.” Following Dean Payne’s comments, each of the student groups presented their Diversity Leadership Alumni award and Each of the recipients took an opportunity to speak about their law school and professional experiences.

D. Michael LylesBLSA President Jada Haughton (3L) presented the BLSA Diversity Leadership Alumni Award to D. Michael Lyles ’94. Lyles is City Attorney for the City of Annapolis, Maryland, where he oversees the City’s Office of Law. The office is responsible for providing legal advice to the city’s elected officials and agencies, litigation defense, legislative drafting, and creation and custody of city records and legacy materials.

Frank GarzaLALSA President Bev Diaz (3L) presented the LALSA Diversity Leadership Award to Frank Garza ’86. Garza has extensive public and employment law experience in representing municipalities and governmental entities in legal matters involving their business and operations. He has represented his clients in litigation, appellate and administrative matters before various county, district, and appellate courts in Texas. Garza is a shareholder at Davidson Troilo Ream & Garza and currently serves as City Attorney for the cities of Balcones Heights, Helotes, Hondo, Karnes City, Kyle, Olmos Park, Rockwall, and Terrell Hills.

The Honorable Coral Wong PietschAnd last but not least, APALSA President Nikita Vasudevan (3L) presented the APALSA Diversity Leadership Award to The Honorable Coral Wong Pietsch '74. Judge Pietsch serves as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and has had a lifetime of distinguished public service at the state, national and international levels. She began her public service when she joined the military and served on active duty in the United States Army as a Judge Advocate. Later, she continued her service in the U.S. Army Reserve and rose to the rank of Brigadier General, becoming the first woman in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps to be promoted to general officer and the first woman of Asian ancestry to be promoted to general officer in the Army.

reception in the atriumAfter the recipients gave their remarks, students had the opportunity to ask questions and gain further insight from these wonderful community leaders. Following the conclusion of the program, honorees, students, and guests were invited to the Louise H. Keelty and James K. Keelty, Jr. Atrium for a reception.

To view photos from the event, visit Catholic Law's Facebook page.