Gov. Moore makes a virtual visit to the 48th annual BLSA banquet

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The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law Black Law Students Association (BLSA) on Feb. 24 held its annual banquet celebrating the accomplishments of BLSA alumni and students. During the event, the membership was treated to a special message from Maryland’s newly elected Governor Wes Moore. 

“Your new dean Renée McDonald Hutchins,” said Maryland’s first Black governor, “ the kind of leader our state build a legal community that reflects the people of Maryland and fights for justice on behalf of all Marylanders.” 

“You are the embodiment of the dreams of your parents and of everyone who came before you and fought to be in the rooms where the decisions get made,” added Moore. “...You belong in those rooms. Not only do you belong, but as lawyers you will have a special privilege and responsibility to keep up the fight and hold the door open for those coming up behind you.” 

Moore also acknowledged Maryland Carey Law Professor Larry Gibson, who was the governor’s campaign adviser, and congratulated Tisha Edwards ’01, his campaign chief of staff and now appointments secretary, who was honored with BLSA’s Alumni of the Year award. 

The Alumni of the Year Award is presented to a Black Law Students Association graduate who has committed their career to bringing about meaningful legal and political change addressing the needs and concerns of the Black community. After accepting the award, Edwards offered the evening’s keynote, telling students about her career fighting inequities as an education administrator, and now on the governor’s cabinet. “I remember talking to friends and saying the system did this, the system did that...They have racial bias. They don’t want to see us thrive,” said Edwards. “Well, I am now they.” 

The award for Practitioner of the Year, presented to a BLSA graduate who has demonstrated distinctive achievements and commitment to the profession of law, went to Tonya Odom ’87, director of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield.  

The Firm Diversity Award, presented to an organization in the greater Baltimore area that promotes the recruitment and retention of minority attorneys, honored the Open Society Institute-Baltimore. The award was accepted by Danielle Torain ’10, OSI-Baltimore’s director.  

Derrick Milburn ′13 was honored with the Impact Award, presented to a member of the Maryland Carey Law faculty and staff who is dedicated to the overall growth of students and is a resource for students both in and out of the classroom. Milburn is an attorney at the Department of Homeland Security and head coach of the BLSA Thurgood Marshall Trial Team, which last week placed first, second, and third at the National Black Law Students Association Mid-Atlantic Region’s Constance Baker Motley Mock Trial Competition. 

The award for Administrator of the Year went to Clinical Law Program Specialist Janet Nance-Richardson. Kathryn Frey-Balter, managing director of the Lawyering Program, was named Professor of the Year. 

Closing out the night was the presentation of awards to current BLSA members. Jordan Brunson ‘24 was dubbed this year’s Unsung Hero, Devin Harvin ’23 received the A.J. Cooper Award, Amirah Loury ’24 was honored with the Murphy Family Scholarship, and the 1L Book Scholarship went to LaQuan Bates ’25. 

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