The Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) is proud to announce its list of honorees for the HNBA National Annual Awards to be presented during its 41st Annual Convention at the Intercontinental Chicago Magnificent Mile Hotel in Chicago, Illinois from September 7-10, 2016.
“The theme of this year’s Annual Convention is ‘Empowering Leaders,’ and we are proud to recognize the accomplishments of an extraordinary group of Latino leaders, who work tirelessly to better our communities and profession,” said Robert T. Maldonado, HNBA National President.
“We honor those who serve as exemplary role models to us all. We thank you all for your dedication and service. The world is a better place because of you. The leadership you exhibit empowers each of us to be better leaders.”
The list below highlights four attorneys and one affiliate organization from the New York/New Jersey area.
HNBA “Latina Judge of the Year” Award
Hon. Esther Salas, U.S. District Court Judge, District of New Jersey
The Honorable Esther Salas, U.S.D.J., was appointed by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate as the first Latina to serve on the federal bench in New Jersey as Magistrate Judge for the United States District of the District of New Jersey in November 2006 and as United States District Judge in June 2011.
Judge Salas is a proud 1994 graduate of the Minority Student Program of Rutgers Law School, Newark and a 1991 graduate of the Educational Opportunity Fund Program from Rutgers College, New Brunswick. During law school, Judge Salas was Vice-President of the Association of Latin American Students and a Minority Student Program Representative. After receiving her Juris Doctorate, Judge Salas served as a law clerk to the Hon. Eugene J. Codey, Jr. of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Essex County; an Associate at Garces & Grabler, P.C.; and almost ten years as an Assistant Federal Public Defender. She served as former president of the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey and the Hispanic Bar Foundation of New Jersey; the Governor’s Hispanic Advisory Council for Policy Development, the New Jersey Supreme Court Committees on Minority Concerns and Women in the Court, the Committee on Pro Se Litigation for the District of New Jersey. Since the inception of the HBA-NJ American Dream Pipeline Program in 2013, Judge Salas has opened the doors to her chambers to allow high school students to meet her and engage in dialogue and have an opportunity to witness firsthand how justice is served in federal court. Judge Salas’ commitment has been recognized by Rutgers Law School Distinguished Alumna Award, Seton Hall University School of Law, Women’s Law Forum, Woman of Substance Award, Tri-County Scholarship Fund Honor of Service, the New Jersey Women Lawyers’ Association, Women’s Initiative and Leaders in the Law Award, and the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey, Hispanic Heritage Award.
HNBA “Latina Attorney of the Year” Award
Camelia M. Valdes, Prosecutor, Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office
Camelia M. Valdes is the Passaic County Prosecutor. When Ms. Valdes was appointed on May 16, 2009 by Governor Jon S. Corzine, reappointed on June 15, 2015 by Governor Chris Christie, and confirmed by the New Jersey State Legislature, she became the first Latina county prosecutor in the State of New Jersey, the first woman prosecutor in Passaic County, and the first lead prosecutor of Dominican ancestry in the United States. As the chief law enforcement official in Passaic County, Ms. Valdes is responsible for the management of approximately 185 assistant prosecutors, detectives, victim advocates and support staff, a $19.2 million office budget, and the oversight of 16 municipal police departments, the police departments of William Paterson and Montclair State Universities, and the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department.
Ms. Valdes is a career prosecutor. She served as a Municipal Prosecutor in the City of Newark, a Deputy Attorney General in the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, and as an Assistant United States Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark. Her experience has ranged from investigating and prosecuting municipal offenses to complex federal crimes that included human trafficking, health care fraud, financial offenses, and violent crimes. Ms. Valdes is extensively involved in bar associations and community service work. Born to Dominican parents in the Bronx and raised in Newark, New Jersey, Ms. Valdes is a product of the Newark Public Schools. She received her undergraduate degree in sociology from Seton Hall University in 1993, her law degree from Rutgers Law School-Newark in 1996, and her LL.M. in Trial Advocacy from Temple University in May 2001. As the proud mother of two beautiful autistic girls, Isabela and Elsa, ages 11 and 9, Ms. Valdes endeavors to raise awareness about autism and special needs education.
HNBA “Latino Attorney of the Year” Award
Frank F. Martinez, Vice President, Legal Affairs, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Inc.
New York, NY
Frank F. Martinez is the Vice President of Legal Affairs at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Inc. serving as U.S. employment law counsel for the LVMH Group. He has also served as V.P., Legal & Business Affairs at BMG Music, Interim V.P. and AGC at L’Oréal USA and interim counsel at MetLife and Pitney Bowes. Prior to joining LVMH, Frank maintained a solo employment law practice in New York representing individuals and management. Originally from West Covina, California, Frank graduated from Boston University School of Law in 1995 and holds a B.M. and M.M. in Voice Performance from Indiana University, Bloomington and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Frank began law practice in San Francisco at Littler Mendelson and was also an associate at Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati in Silicon Valley and at Proskauer Rose in New York. Frank served on the Board of the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York from 2012 to 2014 and is a past member of the LGBT Rights and Labor and Employment Committees of New York City Bar Association. He is a member of both the New York and California bars.
HNBA “Pro Bono Attorney of the Year” Award
Osvaldo Garcia, Associate, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP
New York, NY
Osvaldo Garcia, an associate in the Private Client Group at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, is the founder and current Director of the Cadwalader Black and Latino Association Immigration Clinic. Osvaldo launched the clinic in 2015, turning it into a successful and crucial source of assistance both for attorneys and pro bono clients. The Immigration Clinic serves as an internal support network meant to increase attorney awareness, knowledge, and engagement of immigration matters. Osvaldo’s passion for pro bono work and immigration law in particular is shaped by his own experiences as a Cuban immigrant. In addition to his clinic work, he serves as counsel for a young Salvadorian immigrant applying for Special Juvenile Immigration Status. Osvaldo received his B.A. from Florida International University, and his J.D. from Cornell Law School.
HNBA “Affiliate of the Year” Award
Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey
Founded in 1980, the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey (HBA-NJ) represents the interests of Hispanic attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students within the New Jersey legal community. Dedicated to the professional development of its membership and to serving the Hispanic community at large, the HBA-NJ had a dynamic year in 2016, replete with vibrant initiatives and programming. The HBA-NJ awarded $65,000 in scholarships to 13 Latino students. It had a robust CLE program, including the 15th Annual Sun, Surf & Seminars Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The HBA-NJ also boasts an active mentorship program, pairing individual attorneys with Latino law students and mentoring high school students through the HBA-NJ Pipeline Program. Further, the HBA-NJ offers community education initiatives throughout the year in an effort to educate the Latino community about their legal rights. Finally, the HBA-NJ has a dynamic Young Lawyers Committee that operates a Summer of Service Program where attorneys engage in community service in various statewide Latino communities.