Hortense Ward Courageous Leader Award

The Center for Women in Law, through the Hortense Ward Courageous Leader Award, seeks to recognize on a biennial basis one outstanding woman lawyer who exemplifies Ward’s tenacity, courage, and commitment in her efforts to achieve gender parity in positions of leadership, influence, and responsibility in the legal profession as set out in the Austin Manifesto. The next recipient will be honored at the CWIL’s Award Luncheon on April 23, 2021.

2020 – Patricia Diaz Dennis

PATRICIA DIAZ DENNIS is a longstanding leader and groundbreaking role model. For decades, she has forged paths and opened doors of opportunity for women, and remains committed to keeping them open.  Since her graduation from law school in 1973, Diaz Dennis achieved many firsts for women and Latinas in the legal profession, government, and the communications industry. Read full bio here.

Past Hortense Ward Courageous Leader Recipients

2018 – Roberta Liebenberg





Senior partner at Fine, Kaplan and Black.

Read full bio here.  Watch Bobbi Liebenberg’s acceptance speech here.

2016 – Michele Coleman Mayes

Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary for the New York Public Library

Read full bio here. Watch Michele Coleman Mayes’ acceptance speech here.

2014- Mary Cranston

Mary Cranston photo

Retired Senior Partner and Immediate Past Chair of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

Read full bio here. Watch Mary Cranston’s acceptance speech here.

Nomination Criteria:

Each nominee must:

  1. Be a graduate of a law school
  2. Have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement
  3. Have a history of efforts to achieve gender parity in positions of leadership, influence, and responsibility in the legal profession, exhibited in one or more of the following ways:
    • Being a public voice for women
    • Taking specific, concrete steps to eliminate gender bias
    • Creating opportunities that advance women lawyers
    • Actively promoting minority women lawyers
  4. Commit to attend the award ceremony

NOTE:  Founding Members of the Center for Women in Law are not eligible for this award.

Nomination Procedure:

Submit a nomination form in addition to a 2-page letter that outlines specific examples of the nominee’s credentials based on the criteria above.  Supporting documents must include the nominee’s resume/curriculum vitae and at least three (but no more than five) recommendation letters from other individuals.  At least one recommendation letter must come from a woman who benefited directly from the nominee’s efforts.  The nomination packet may also include articles that display the nominee’s credentials and additional personal anecdotes.

If a nomination package was submitted in a prior year for the nominee, please check the box on page 3 of the online form: “Nomination for previous nominee.”  You may submit updated supporting documents, including additional letters of recommendation.

The Hortense Ward Courageous Leader Award Nomination Form