Hon. Thelton E. Henderson Social Justice Prize

At its annual Gala, the Henderson Center awards a prize to a Boalt Hall graduate who has been admitted to the bar for fewer than seven years and best exemplifies the intellectual rigor, integrity, courage and vision that are distinctive of the Honorable Thelton E. Henderson.  

The nominee should have (1) demonstrated a commitment to social justice through use of the law to challenge social inequities, and shown creativity in developing legal strategies to advance social justice; (2)made a significant contribution to under-represented and/or disadvantagedcommunities; and (3) engaged in work that reflects the personal and professional intellectual rigor, integrity, courage and vision that are distinctive of the Honorable Thelton E. Henderson

The 2013 prize will be presented at an awards ceremony in spring 2014.

Click here to download nomination form

Past Recipients

2012      Rovianne Leigh '05
              Berkey & Williams LLP   

2011      Hilary G. Armstrong '04       
              Supervising Attorney, Health Legal Services            
              Law Foundation of Silicon Valley  

2010      Araceli Martínez-Olguín '04
              Staff Attorney
              Legal Aid Society - Employment Law Center 

2009      Yungsuhn Park '05
              Staff Attorney
              Asian Pacific American Legal Center

2008      Alegria De La Cruz '03
              Directing Attorney, Migrant Farmworker Project
              California Rural Legal Assistance
2007      Christopher Daley '01
              Co-Director, Transgender Law Center

2006      Tirien Steinbach '99
              Director, Decriminalization of Poverty Practice
              East Bay Community Law Center



Araceli Martinez-Olguin

Araceli Martínez-Olguín '04, 2010 Social Justice Prize Recipient

Araceli Martínez-Olguín is currently a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center in its National Origin, Immigration and Language Rights Program.  She works on individual cases and class actions to protect and expand the rights of recent immigrants who face exploitation based on their immigrant status or who have been denied equal employment opportunities because of their linguistic characteristics.  Before joining the Legal Aid Society in spring 2010, she was a Staff Attorney with the ACLU, Women’s Rights Project based in New York. Upon graduating from Berkeley Law, Araceli clerked for two years for U.S. District Judge David Briones of the Western District of Texas in El Paso. She then spent the next three years as an attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project in New York, where she took a lead role in its advocacy on behalf of low-wage immigrant workers, female victims of sexual violence and human trafficking, women of color, and also litigated case challenging sex-segregated public school classrooms. While at Berkeley Law, where she received her J.D. in 2004, Araceli was Articles Editor of the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal, served on the staff of the Berkeley Women’s Law Journal, and was also a member of the Admissions Committee and the Coalition for Diversity.

Yungsuhn Park '05

Yungsuhn Park '05, 2009 Social Justice Prize Recipient

Yungsuhn Park is a Staff Attorney at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) in Los Angeles where she conducts impact litigation on behalf of low-income immigrants. Upon graduating from Boalt Hall in 2005, Park was awarded the Skadden Fellowship to advocate on behalf of low-wage workers. Since then, she has focused on litigation and policy advocacy in the areas of workers’ rights, consumer fraud, housing and other civil rights issues. Most recently, she served as APALC’s lead trial attorney in Kim v. Shin, where she represented four low-income tenants who were subject to severe uninhabitable conditions during a landlord-initiated condominium conversion in Koreatown, Los Angeles. The case garnered wide media coverage and educated the community about tenants’ rights during a major condominium building boom and gentrification in the area.  The tenants won a jury verdict and were awarded a judgment exceeding $600,000 in damages, restitution, and attorney’s fees. 

At Boalt Hall, Park was an active member of the Coalition for Diversity and served as Vice President of the Boalt Hall Students Association. She was a member of the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal and the Symposium Editor for the Asian American Law Journal, from which she received the Student Writing Competition Award for an article documenting a multiracial workers’ rights campaign in Los Angeles. She also spent semesters as a law clerk at ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, Equal Rights Advocates, and Leonard Carder LLP, a union-side labor law firm. During her first semester, Park volunteered in a student-run clinic where she successfully assisted an immigrant from Guatemala obtain political asylum. Before attending law school, she interned at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia as an investigator. Yungsuhn Park was born and raised in Los Angeles, where she witnessed the tragic events of the Los Angeles civil unrest in 1992. She became committed to fighting for social justice after she witnessed her family’s business looted during the riots and questioned what she could do to change the racial and economic inequities that led to the violence.  



Alegria De La Cruz ' 03, 2008 Social Justice Prize Recipient

The 2008 Social Justice Prize Awardee, Alegria De La Cruz, is Directing Attorney for California Rural Legal Assistance's Migrant Farmworker Project in Fresno where her work focuses on the unique and challenging issues facing this state’s farmworker community. Alegría advocates to protect the rights of her farmworker clients in the arenas of wage and hour law, fair and habitable housing, civil rights, employment discrimination, and environmental justice. She serves on the Board of Directors of Centro Binacional por el Desarrollo del Indígena Oaxaqueño (CBDIO), a state-wide initiative that addresses legal needs and develops capacities in indigenous communities throughout California. She is also a board member of Fresno Metro Ministries, an interfaith non-profit organization engaged in community problem-solving, advocacy, and community organizing on issues of air quality, access to health care, and hunger and nutrition. She was instrumental in launching Community University Research and Action for Justice (CURAJ), a path breaking effort that evolved from the Henderson Center’s Central Valley Initiative, and serves on its governing board.

At Boalt Hall, Alegria was a social justice leader as Editor-in Chief of the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal, Co-Chair of La Raza Students Association, and active in the Strategy Committee of the Coalition for Diversity. She was awarded the Phoenix Fellowship and won the Moot Court Award for the combination of best oral argument and best brief. The granddaughter of Jessie De La Cruz, one of the first UFW organizers, Alegria received her B.A. in history from Yale University. In the words of one of the lawyers who nominated her for this honor: "Her work ensures that individuals who face cultural and linguistic barriers—often powerless in this society—will be fairly treated. Alegría's professional work reflects the intellectual rigor, integrity, and courage that embodies Judge Henderson's life work."

Christopher Daley '01, 2007 Social Justice Prize Recipient

Christopher Daley, Director of the Transgender Law Center in San Francisco, is the 2007 awardee of the Hon. Thelton E. Henderson Social Justice Prize. Daley received his B.A. from Indiana University and his J.D. from Boalt Hall in 2001. Upon graduation from law school Daley created California's first direct services practice for transgender legal issues while a Pride Law Fund Tom Steel Fellow at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Named an Echoing Green Fellow in 2002, Daley launched the Transgender Law Center and became its director in 2004. Over the last five years, he has raised an unprecedented one million dollars for transgender rights and grown TLC into a national model staffed by more than five full-time employees. TLC's multi-disciplinary, multi-issue commitment has enabled the organization to achieve significant victories in economic justice, health care access, leadership development, identity recognition, and student and prisoner rights.

Daley has also provided legal assistance to several thousand transgender clients, presented dozens of workshops on transgender legal issues, participated in significant public policy initiatives, written practice guides on transgender law, and mentored numerous attorneys in effectively representing transgender clients. Before law school Daley worked at a non-profit homeless policy organization and volunteered as an HIV/AIDS outreach educator. At Boalt he worked with social justice organizations focusing on police misconduct, public benefits, immigrant rights, and drug policy reform.


Tirien Steinbach '99, 2006 Social Justice Prize Recipient

Tirien Steinbach, the director of the Decriminalization of Poverty Practice at the East Bay Community Law Center , is the inaugural winner of the Hon. Thelton E. Henderson Social Justice Prize. A 1999 graduate of Boalt Hall, Ms. Steinbach has demonstrated the vision, the passion, and the intellectual excellence that the prize is intended to award. Tirien began her legal career as a NAPIL Equal Justice Fellow at the California Appellate Project representing death row inmates and mastering the complex principles of capital habeas law. After volunteering her services at a homeless services center in Berkeley , she became committed to building a legal clinic at three sites where a medical clinic operated. With the most respectful and engaged attention to the homeless clients she was serving , Steinbach's vision took shape as the Suitcase Clinic at EBCLC. Not only does this clinic provide critical legal services to the most vulnerable in our community, it has also enabled over eighty law students to obtain significant clinical training under Tirien's dedicated supervision. More recently Tirien has expanded the work of the Decriminalization of Poverty Practice to include legal services and information to thousands of clients whose criminal records have placed obstacles in their paths. She coordinated the First Annual Alameda County Criminal Records Remedies Summit in collaboration with Congresswoman Barbara Lee and the Alameda County Courts. When that summit drew over 800 people needing assistance in expunging their criminal records, Tirien developed and launched yet another innovative program to serve such clients on an ongoing basis. Steinbach also teaches an inspiring course in Community Lawyering at Boalt Hall. Bringing her full humanity to the practice of law and her supervision of students, Tirien's work is an ongoing demonstration of the principles exemplified by Judge Henderson's life and work.