New York State Bar Association Honors NYCLU Executive Director

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January 31, 2008 —  Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, has been selected to receive the 11th annual Haywood Burns Memorial Award from the New York State Bar Association.

The award, co-sponsored by the Association’s Civil Rights Committee and the Committee on Minorities in the Profession, will be presented on Thursday, Jan. 31 at a reception during the State Bar’s annual meeting in Manhattan.

“Donna Lieberman has been an integral part of the success that the New York Civil Liberties Union has had in expanding the scope and depth of its work,” said Chair of the Civil Rights Committee Fernando A. Bohorquez, Jr. “Through her dynamic leadership, the organization has aggressively pursued both litigation and legislative advocacy in order to protect and enhance the civil liberties and civil rights of all people. As a result, the NYCLU is one of the state's leading voices for freedom, justice and equality, advocating for those whose rights and liberties have been denied. Donna is exactly the type of person who exemplifies the work Dean Burns did, and what he stood for, and we are honored to giver her this year's award.”

Prior to assuming the position of executive director, Lieberman served the NYCLU as its associate director and founder/director of the organization’s Reproductive Rights Project. She began her public interest legal career as a criminal defense attorney in the South Bronx office of the Legal Aid Society. She previously served as executive director of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, and has been a member of the faculty of the Urban Studies Program at City College (New York).

Lieberman is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University and earned her law degree form Rutgers University School of Law.

The Haywood Burns Memorial Award was created in 1998 and is presented annually to honor the late civil rights lawyer and academic, Dean W. Haywood Burns. Throughout his career, Burns used the legal system to address social injustice. He is best known for his work with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his defense of Attica prison rioters and black activist Angela Davis.

The Award, given by the New York State Bar Association Committee on Civil Rights, is presented to an individual, not necessarily a lawyer, who has contributed to New York State in a manner that reflects and honors Dean Burns’ commitment to the struggle for justice and the qualities that made him an outstanding advocate for civil rights and the empowerment of the powerless.

The 74,000-member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New York and the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation.