The 2016 Katharine & George Alexander Law Prize will be awarded to Maria Foscarinis, founder and executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, the only national organization that uses the power of the law to end and prevent homelessness in America.
Ms. Foscarinis has advocated for solutions to homelessness at the national level since 1985, when she left her career at a major law firm, Sullivan & Cromwell, to become an advocate for homeless people. She is a primary architect of the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act, the first major federal legislation addressing homelessness. She has led numerous subsequent, cutting-edge initiatives to prevent and end homelessness, including protecting housing rights for domestic violence survivors and education rights for homeless children; increasing housing resources through vacant properties; and countering the criminalization of homelessness and poverty. She has initiated and helped lead a national campaign to secure the human right to housing in the U.S., developed an initiative to protect tenants in the current foreclosure crisis, and advocated for and helped shape the federal plan to end and prevent homelessness. Ms. Foscarinis has led successful litigation to secure the legal rights of homeless persons, and writes regularly about legal and policy issues affecting homeless and poor persons. Ms. Foscarinis is an internationally known advocate and expert who is frequently quoted in the media, including the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and the Huffington Post.
The first Katharine & George Alexander Law Prize was presented in March 2008 and has been awarded annually thereafter. This award has been made possible through the generosity of Katharine & George Alexander to bring recognition to legal advocates who have used their legal careers to help alleviate injustice and inequity. The hope is that recognition of such individuals will improve the image of lawyers around the world.
The winner receives a substantial cash award to be used as the he or she chooses. The winner will be brought to Santa Clara University to be honored at a ceremony in March. The winner will also be invited to participate in lectures and classes and may choose to serve as a teacher, mentor and scholar for a limited period at Santa Clara Law.
Katharine & George Alexander
Katharine Alexander practiced law for 25 years as a public defender for Santa Clara County and taught law courses for several years at San Jose State University.
The late George Alexander served as professor of law at Santa Clara University for 34 years and as dean of its School of Law for 15 years.
Both Katharine and George have dedicated their lives to instilling in students and lawyers a commitment to justice. Their service to humanity serves as a model for other lawyers.
Francisco Rivera Juaristi, Chair
Assistant Clinical Professor and Director, International Human Rights Clinic, Santa Clara Law
Professor of Law, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Santa Clara Law
Donald J. Polden
Professor of Law, Dean Emeritus, Santa Clara Law
Professor of Law Emeritus, Santa Clara Law
Nominees must be lawyers who have used their skill, knowledge and abilities in the field of law to correct injustice. The nominees must be individuals who are committed in both heart and mind to alleviating injustice and inequity.
Selection criteria may include factors such as the:
- Innovative nature of the programs or other activities undertaken
- Courage and self-sacrifice required
- Sustainability of the programs the nominee has implemented
- Number of people benefited