CWLC is thrilled to announce the 2012 recipients of the Abby J. Leibman Pursuit of Justice Awards.
Julia R. Wilson serves as the Executive Director of OneJustice and the Legal Aid Association of California (LAAC). As Executive Director of the sister organizations, she is responsible for leading statewide advocacy efforts on behalf of the legal services delivery system, undertaking multiple statewide strategic planning initiatives, and serving as the legal services community’s liaison to key access to justice partners. Ms. Wilson is active in numerous national and statewide collaborations relevant to OneJustice and LAAC’s work and received a 2010 CLAY (California Lawyer of the Year) Award from California Lawyer magazine for her work on the successful passage of AB 590 (Feuer), which created the Shriver Civil Counsel Act to increase representation for low-income Californians in civil matters affecting basic life necessities.
As Partner & Director of Pro Bono Services at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, Cristin Zeisler oversees all aspects of the firm’s award-winning Public Interest Initiative. She also maintains a substantive practice in the areas of asylum and immigration law, disaster relief, election law, Holocaust reparations, homelessness and domestic violence advocacy, strategic advice to nonprofit organizations, and veterans law.
After working as a corporate/securities associate at a boutique law firm in Washington, D.C. for two years and at Manatt for three more years, Ms. Zeisler left the practice of law and joined the U.S. Peace Corps as a Business Education volunteer. While serving with Peace Corps in Ukraine, Ms. Zeisler taught critical thinking, decision making, leadership, and management courses, developed a mentoring program for orphans, and conducted seminars for women-owned micro-enterprises.
Ms. Zeisler re-joined Manatt in 2005 as the firm’s National Director of Pro Bono Activities. Under her leadership, Manatt has developed a reputation as an innovative leader in pro bono project development and program management. Among recent accomplishments, Ms. Zeisler conceived and built the Holocaust Survivors Justice Network (HSJN), the nation’s largest coordinated pro bono effort.
Ms. Zeisler presently serves on the State Bar of California’s Legal Services Trust Fund Commission, the board of directors of OneJustice, and the national advisory committee for HSJN as its co-chair. She is a member of the Association of Pro Bono Counsel and the California Pro Bono Coordinating Committee and serves on advisory committees for several national and local legal and community service organizations.
Douglas Christopher (“Coach Chris”) Martinez was instrumental in CWLC’s recent Title IX class action victory in the case of Ollier v. Sweetwater. Coach Chris, a dedicated, talented, and beloved girls’ softball coach, was fired after seven years of coaching in retaliation for his and his players’ attempts to assert their Title IX rights to equality in Castle Park High School’s athletic program. During his time as Castle Park High School’s softball coach, Coach Chris spent countless extra hours during the week, weekends, and even holidays trying to improve conditions on the softball field for the girls, including hand watering the softball field in a futile effort to bring the barren field up to game-playing quality. Coach Chris has been a passionate mentor for female athletes for over 15 years. Former students laud him for his tireless efforts to involve them in athletics not only to play sports but also to excel academically. Coach Chris constantly emphasizes athletics as a ticket to college, which many former students have accomplished, including his daughter who went on to receive a full softball scholarship to Oklahoma State University and graduated in 2009 with a degree in Marketing. Coach Chris knows firsthand the crucial positive impact that athletics can have on a girl’s life and has been steadfast in his fight to ensure girls have equal opportunities in athletics.
Coach Chris began coaching Little League baseball in 1990 and migrated to girls’ fastpitch softball in 1997 in order to coach his daughter. Coach Chris is currently the coach of one of the top softball teams in California, the 14U San Diego Power Surge, and is an assistant softball coach at Otay Ranch High School. His girls’ fastpitch teams have participated in major national tournaments every year since 1997, and have numerous times placed in the top 10 in those tournaments, in addition to winning a California State Championship in 2007 with his Imperial Beach All Stars. Originally from Houston, Texas, Coach Chris has been a San Diego resident since completing four years of service in the U.S. Navy. He has been a Planning Supervisor at General Dynamics NASSCO, a ship building and repair company, for the past 22 years.
Please join us in celebrating these wonderful individuals and their accomplishments!