Celebrated annually since 1985, the Kandler Memorial Awards Dinner honors Delawareans who have made an indelible mark on our community as advocates and defenders of civil liberties. This annual dinner serves as our largest fundraising event each year, and offers us an opportunity to showcase the tremendous community support that helps us accomplish our work.
Our Guest Speaker
This year, we welcomed ACLU National Legal Director David Cole as our guest speaker. David directs a program that includes approximately 1,400 state and federal lawsuits on a broad range of civil liberties issues. He manages 100 ACLU staff attorneys in the ACLU’s New York headquarters, oversees the organization’s U.S. Supreme Court docket, and provides leadership to more than 200 staff attorneys who work in ACLU affiliate offices in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. His most recent book, Engines of Liberty: The Power of Citizen Activists to Make Constitutional Law, published in 2016, examines the strategies civil society organizations employ to change constitutional law. The late New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis called Cole “one of the country’s great legal voices for civil liberties today,” and the late Nat Hentoff called him “a one-man Committee of Correspondence in the tradition of patriot Sam Adams.” David was a tremendous addition to this year's Kandler Memorial Awards Dinner, and we were proud to have him as our guest speaker!
History of the Kandler Award
A superb constitutional lawyer who studied at the University of Pennsylvania, Gerald E. Kandler (1932-1985) served as president of the ACLU of Delaware for 14 years until his death. Born in Germany, Gerry escaped to England as part of the Kindertransport and came to the United States when he was 12. He was a tireless champion for those whose civil liberties and rights were in jeopardy. The ACLU of Delaware created the Gerald E. Kandler Memorial Award in 1985 to honor those Delawareans who uphold the ideals to which Gerry dedicated his life.
This year, we presented the Kandler Award to:
SARAH, SALLY AND DAVID MCBRIDE On July 28, 2016, Wilmington, DE native Sarah McBride made history when she became the first openly transgender person to speak at a major party’s national convention. She’d made national headlines before when she came out as transgender while serving as student body president at American University. Sarah worked on LGBTQ equality at the Center for American Progress and interned at the White House, the first out trans woman to do so. She currently serves as the National Press Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign. Sarah is supported and joined in her activism and advocacy by her parents. Her mother Sally McBride has a master’s in education from the University of Delaware and has served as an educational advocate for 20 years in Red Clay. Her father David McBride, a partner at Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP, practices corporate law and litigation in the Court of Chancery. “Our daughter—like so many other daughters—just wants to pursue her dreams and live her life,” David has said. Through their activism, the McBride family works to ensure that the freedom to do just that becomes a reality for all. For more information about the McBride family, check out our video interview with them here.
THEO K. GREGORY, SR. A champion for racial justice since his college days, Theo practiced poverty law at DE Community Legal Aid Society as a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow from 1977 to 1979, at which time President Jimmy Carter appointed him Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Delaware. Theo was in private practice from 1984 to 1994 handling personal injury, criminal defense, probate and real estate law. He has always chosen to locate his private practice office in the heart of the Wilmington community so he can be visible and accessible to the citizens he serves. He was also an Assistant Public Defender from 1996 through 2006, primarily representing juveniles in Family Court. Theo served six terms as a member of Wilmington City Council and as its president from 2013-2017. As founder of Student Disabilities Advocate, Inc., he also advocates for education reform and the rights of students. To learn more about Theo, check out our video interview with him here.
About the Clarence Darrow Award
Named for perhaps the most famous ACLU attorney in our history, the Clarence Darrow Award is awarded to a cooperating attorney or law firm in recognition of outstanding legal service and support of the ACLU.
This year, we presented the Clarence Darrow Award to:
MARION QUIRK Marion has been making major contributions as a ACLU cooperating attorney since 2011. While employed as a full-time corporate bankruptcy attorney, she worked intensely for two months on crafting and negotiating the detailed court order that directed the Department of Correction to institute the many operational changes needed to reduce the frequency of sexual abuse of inmates by staff in Delaware’s Women’s Prison. Then, when DOC failed to implement all the required changes, Marion spent more than a year cajoling and then litigating until the court ordered DOC again to do what needed to be done. Just last year, DE DOC officials placed a transgender female inmate in solitary confinement because she had sought legal counsel to challenge the way she was being treated in prison. Working with Staff Attorney Ryan Tack-Hooper to represent Kamilla Denise London, Marion served as the main point of contact and comfort for a client who was going through a desperate ordeal. As a result, Ms. London was released from solitary confinement and the DOC revised its policy on transgender prisoners to recognize their right to disrobe, shower, dress, and be searched separately from other inmates, and to have their privacy issues and their own views on safety considered in housing placements.
This Event Would Not Have Been Possible Without The Generous Support of Our Sponsors and Attendees
Our work is about more than just one person, one party or one issue. Your generous support allows us to continue defending the constitutional rights of every person who needs our help. You are the Voices of Freedom. Thank you for never staying silent.
COCKTAIL HOUR Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP
DEFENDER OF LIBERTY Christiana Care Health System
PARTNER IN JUSTICE Anonymous • David & Gwen Brown • Wendy & Denison Hatch Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell • Tom & Jennifer O’Brien PTKDelaware • Rosenthal Monhait & Goddess P.A. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP Widener University Delaware Law School Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer
ADVOCATE Anonymous • John Dorsey • Alice Eakin Marcia Halperin & Norman Monhait • Marion & Larry Hamermesh Highmark Delaware • The Johnston Family • Joan Kandler Elizabeth McGeever • Judy & David Mellen Grace & Blair Messner • James & Kathleen Patton • Mark Purpura Jeff Raffel • Erik & Jonathan Raser-Schramm Richard Sweeney & Ardis Cray • Professor Leland & Dr. Melva Ware Wilmington City Council • Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice • WSFS Bank
To view more pictures, please visit our Facebook album here.