Kevin K. Washburn, assistant secretary - Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior, and former dean of the University of New Mexico School of Law, will be honored with the ABA’s prestigious Spirit of Excellence Award at the ABA Midyear Meeting on Saturday, Feb. 7, in Houston, Texas. The Spirit of Excellence Award celebrates the accomplishments of lawyers who promote a more racially and ethnically diverse legal profession.
F. John Garza, chair of the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession, said, “Kevin Washburn has served America and our legal profession with the highest integrity and professionalism. He began as a federal law clerk, served as a federal prosecutor, educated the next generation of attorneys as an author, law professor and dean, and now serves as the 12th assistant secretary — Indian Affairs for the U.S. Department of the Interior. His contributions to full diversity and inclusion are as many as his professional accomplishments. It is with the greatest of pride that we honor Kevin Washburn.”
Washburn, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, served the UNM School of Law as dean from June 2009 – October 2012. He has a strong background in Indian law, criminal law and gambling law and a prolific portfolio of books, book chapters, articles and congressional testimony. Through his writings and testimony, he has influenced public policy in both criminal law in Indian country and gaming.
Helen Padilla, director of the American Indian Law Center, said that Washburn is a highly-respected colleague who has shown continued dedication throughout the years to increasing the number of Native attorneys. “Kevin Washburn’s initial work for the National Indian Gaming Commission in Washington, D.C. and his current position provide evidence of his strong commitment to tribes, American Indians, and his Indian community. His resume undoubtedly speaks to his excellent spirit, intellect, and service to our profession," she said.