2017 Award Winners

Judge Carol S. Brosnahan
2017 Rose Bird Memorial Award Winner -
Judge Carol S. Brosnahan
Judge Carol Brosnahan attended Wellesley College in Massachusetts and Harvard University Law School. She received her LL.B. in 1959. She is currently a Superior Court Judge for the County of Alameda, serving in Oakland at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse. She initiated and continues to preside over Alameda County’s Behavioral Court. Two days a week, Judge Brosnahan serves as judge at the John George Psychiatric Pavilion in San Leandro.

Judge Brosnahan Before coming to Oakland, Judge Brosnahan was Supervising Judge at the Berkeley Courthouse presiding in Department 201 since 2001. Prior to becoming a Superior Court Judge, she served as a Municipal Court Judge for the former Berkeley-Albany Judicial District, Alameda County, from April 1979 to 1998, when she was elevated to a Superior Court Judge on July 31, 1998. Judge Brosnahan served as Presiding Judge for the Berkeley Court in 1998, 1991, 1990 and 1984-85. She was instrumental in beginning the court’s collaboration with Options Recovery Services in Berkeley. This collaboration continues to this day. She also presided over Berkeley’s first Drug Court.

Judge Brosnahan was a member of the California State Fair Political Practices Commission from 1975-1977. She served as Program Director of Local Bar Relations, and Supervising Attorney in charge of litigation-related projects, Continuing Education of the Bar, Berkeley, California, 1964-1979. She was in private law practice in Phoenix, Arizona, from 1960-1964. She worked as an assistant investment counselor at a bank in New York, New York from 1955-1956. Judge Brosnahan has been a member of the California Judges Association since 1979. She is also a member of the National Association of Women Judges since 1996. She participates in Women Lawyers of Alameda County, California Women Lawyers, Earl Warren Inn of Court, and the American Judicature Society. She is a recipient of the Alameda Contra Costa Trial Lawyers Association Trial Judge of the Year, 2012, and the California Public Defenders Association Rose Bird Award in that same year. She is on the facult of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy. Judge Brosnahan is married to Jim Brosnahan, an attorney at Morrison & Foerster, is a mother of three and grandmother of four.




Judge Marguerite D. Downing
2017 Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist Award Winner - Judge Marguerite D. Downing
Judge Marguerite D. Downing has been presiding over a juvenile dependency calendar since her appointment in August of 2007. A 1989 graduate of the University of West Los Angeles School of Law, Judge Downing worked as a Deputy Public Defender for over 18 years with the Los Angeles County Office of the Public Defender prior to her appointment to the bench. As a Deputy Public Defender, she represented clients with mental and physical disabilities at risk children criminal court juvenile delinquency system.

Since January of 2009, Judge Downing has chaired the Incarcerated Parents Working Group for Los Angeles County at Children which was established to address barriers affecting incarcerated parents seeking to reunify with their children in foster care.   She also serves on a number of Los Angeles Superior Court committees.

She is currently serving her second year as Chair of the ABA Commission on Youth at Risk and is also their liaison to the Commission on Disability Rights.  She is also an advisor to the Criminal Law Section Executive Committee, having previously chaired the committee. She serves as the Hospitality Chair for both the California Association of Black Lawyers (CABL) and Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles (BWL), positions she has held for decades. 

Previously, Judge Downing served on the boards of the California Bar Foundation, formerly the State Bar of California Foundation, Mental Health of America, Big Sisters of Los Angeles and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles.   She serves on a number of committees of the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ), as well as those of the National Bar Association

Long active in professional bar associations as an attorney, Judge Downing is a past president of BWL (1994-1995), CABL (1998-1999) and California Women Lawyers (2004-2005). Judge Downing is also a former Commissioner of the American Bar Association Commission on Disability Rights (2004-2006). At the time of her judicial appointment, Judge Downing was serving as vice president of the State Bar Board of Governors. Both CABL and the John M. Langston Bar Association have both recognized her service to the Bar.  Women in the NAACP (WIN), Women on Target and the community organization Talk about Parenting have all honored her for her community service work.

A respected presenter, Judge Downing has spoken and taught on the subjects of juvenile justice, dependency law, incarcerated parents services and courtroom civility throughout the United States and in such far flung places as Morocco, Beijing, China, Dubai, Guam and Saipan.

In her “spare time” Judge Downing crafts, reads mysteries and travels her way through her well-worn copy of a “1000 Places to See Before You Die.”




Tracy Skaddan
2017 Judith Soley Lawyer as Citizen Award Winner -
Tracy Skaddan
Tracy is proud to be in her fifth year as General Counsel for Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest (PPPSW), the nation’s second largest Planned Parenthood affiliate. She is also General Counsel for the Action Fund, the political advocacy arm of Planned Parenthood. She is an accomplished leader in advocating for reproductive healthcare services and her current work as General Counsel is a perfect fit combining her passion for ensuring safe affordable access to reproductive healthcare and her legal expertise. Prior to becoming General Counsel, she served on the PPPSW Board of Directors and Chaired the Board in 2009 and 2010.

Tracy is a trained litigator who practiced primarily in Los Angeles for over thirteen years prior to joining PPPSW.  Her work focused on product liability cases with an emphasis on complex catastrophic accidents.

After moving from Los Angeles to San Diego in 1999, Tracy joined the Lawyers Club of

San Diego and was President of the Lawyers Club in 2003-2004. In the last decade she has devoted countless hours to many projects serving the women and children of the San Diego community.

Tracy was recognized by the Coalition for Reproductive Choice for her exceptional leadership with the Defender of Choice Award in 2011.  She was awarded the Community Service Award by the Lawyers Club of San Diego in 2013 and the Ambassador of the Year for the Alliance for African Assistance in 2014. 

Tracy graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy and political science from

Colgate University in 1986 and earned her Juris Doctor from Temple University School of Law in Philadelphia, her hometown, in 1990.  She lives in Mission Hills with her two teenage daughters, Lily and Lucy.  In her spare time she enjoys running, tennis, playing the piano and traveling.





Leslie F. Levy
2017 Fay Stender Award Winner - Leslie F. Levy
Leslie Levy brings a lifelong passion for social justice to her employment discrimination law practice. In addition to representing employees, her record includes pioneering lawsuits against sexually harassing landlords and perpetrators of violence against women and children. Leslie has also successfully brought suit against BART forcing it to install edge detection for blind and low vision users as well as independent elevator access. Leslie remains committed to the practice of law as a vehicle for progressive social change.

Her primary focus is representing employees, especially women, who have faced or are facing discrimination or harassment on the job. She also represents victims of sexual abuse by professionals, such as doctors, therapists and teachers, and of sexual harassment in housing situations. Leslie believes in empowering her clients to be an active part in the decision-making process of their cases.

Leslie has been recognized as one of Northern California’s Super Lawyers in Employment each year from 2005 to the present by San Francisco Magazine. In August 2017, Leslie was invited to join the American Board of Trial Advocates, an invitation only organization whose members are accomplished trial lawyers, whose members have all tried at least 10 jury trials to verdict. She has been an adjunct professor at both the University of San Francisco School of Law and New College of the Law, and is a speaker at numerous legal conferences. She has authored articles, contributed chapters to legal reference books and practice manuals, and drafted California civil rights legislation. She is the recipient of the Hastings College of Law’s Clara Foltz Award for distinguished service to women. She is a graduate of Hastings College of the Law, and has a Philosophy degree from the University of California at Berkeley.

Leslie has volunteered for years at the Marine Mammal Center and the Gulf of the Farallons Marine National Sanctuary. An avid environmentalist and lover of the outdoors, she also enjoys kayaking and birdwatching.