The Sonoma County Bar Association held the 29th Annual Pro Bono Awards Reception and Annual Meeting of the Members on December 3, 2019 at The Glaser Center in Santa Rosa. This was the first year the awards ceremony turned from a luncheon affair to evening reception. The change was welcomed and encouraged a turnout of attendees able to enjoy the celebration of the deserving professionals who were being acknowledged as honorees.
President Suzanne Babb called the meeting to order as end of the year matters were handled and a look to 2020 began. New members of the SCBA Board of Directors were approved, including Chad Dorr, Bruce Goldstein, Josh Myers, Jane Gaskell, Alexis Kent, and Carmen Sinigiani. The SCBA Officers for 2020 were also announced as Michelle Zyromski stepped into the role as President, Stephanie Hess as Vice President, Mark Rubins as Treasurer and David Berry as Secretary. Following the SCBA’s formal agenda items, the event turned to recognition of truly inspiring individuals in our community who have earned recognition for their dedication and hard work.
California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. fights for justice and individual rights for the most exploited communities in our society. Jane Lawhon was recognized for her work and dedication to its mission. The Disability Services & Legal Center works directly with the disabled to ensure they have equal access and opportunities in our community. Adam Brown presented Michael Wall as the Center’s 2019 honoree for his volunteer work.
Brian Purtill, the Dean of Empire School of Law, presented two local law school students with special recognition: Cody Molica for his work with the school’s disability law clinic, and Nickolas Rineberg for his assistance with the elder law clinic.
District Attorney Jill Ravitch spoke on behalf of the Family Justice Center of Sonoma County and the tremendous support it gives the public by providing a safe place for victims to get help. The Center relies on grants and philanthropic support. Ann Diem Patton and Carolina Spence were both acknowledged for their outstanding work and effort they give to the Center.
Ronit Rubinoff, the Executive Director for Legal Aid of Sonoma County, recognized Jack Raineault, who volunteers his time endlessly to assist the busy organization. Legal Aid serves on average 4,000 people annually. Max Courtney, a law school student at Empire College, was also acknowledged for her devotion to ensuring that everyone in our community can access valuable legal resources, no matter financial restrictions.
The SCBA presented two awards, the third annual Unsung Hero Award was presented to Joan Guillaumin and the Michael F. O’Donnell Civility Award was awarded to Bart Weitzenberg.
Toni Novak from the Sonoma County Legal Services Foundation honored Sharron Riggs for her passionate devotion to the kids and endless assistance with families; Win Rogers accepted on her behalf.
The Sonoma County Public Law Library also participated by acknowledging Justin Milligan for his volunteer and fundraising efforts for years that has greatly assisted in keeping the library open as a valuable resource for the public.
On behalf of the Sonoma County Superior Court, Judge Nadler presented Gregory Spaulding and Heather Bussing with the Court’s Outstanding Volunteer Award. The Court also presented the Amicus Curiae Award, translated as “A Friend of the Court” to Ronit Rubinoff. This award is given to one individual each year for their outstanding contributions to furthering justice in Sonoma County.