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La Liga de Las Americas

Daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy to present keynote address at legal fundraiser


Human rights activist and attorney Kerry Kennedy is scheduled to give the keynote address at the 2007 Access to Justice Awards, to be presented on March 29, 2007, at The Pinnacle in Maumee, OH.


The awards, presented by Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE), Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. (LAWO), and the Toledo Bar Association Pro Bono Legal Services Program recognize outstanding service in the public interest by attorneys, organizations, and community advocates in northwest Ohio.  Proceeds from the event help LAWO and ABLE provide no-cost civil legal services to low-income Ohioans in 32 counties.

L-R: Craig Gebers, Director of Workforce Development, The Source Northwest Ohio; Frank Ayers, Executive Director of Zepf Center for Community Mental Health; and Melissa Sherry, Employment Manager - NetWORK Vocational Services.


Honored at this year’s Access to Justice Awards Dinner are the University of Toledo Law School Professor and attorney Robert S. Salem with a Public Interest Law Award, former executive director of Planned Parenthood and community volunteer Betty Morais with a Community Advocacy Award, and the Zepf Center for Community Mental Health, with a Community Advocacy Award.

“We’re so pleased that Ms. Kennedy can be a part of our celebration of Access to Justice,” said awards committee Co-chair Keith Wilkowski.


“For more than a quarter of a century, Ms. Kennedy has carried on the tradition of service started by her father, the late Robert F. Kennedy. As a tireless champion of human rights, she has dedicated her life to the promotion and protection of basic rights, equal justice, and preservation of the rule of law,” Wilkowski says.  “And as a member of the Bar Associations of Massachusetts and the District of Columbia, Ms. Kennedy understands the value of the Legal Aid movement in America.”

UT Prof Rob Salem


Kennedy has worked on a diverse range of social justice issues, including land rights, judicial independence, freedom of expression, ethnic violence, child labor, the environment, and  women’s rights, leading over 40 human rights delegations to over 30 countries.


In her 2004 book, Speak Truth to Power: Human Rights Defenders Who Are Changing Our World, Kennedy  profiles a number of celebrated human rights activists, including Marian Wright Edelman, the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Elie Wiesel.


She also tells the stories of unsung heroes like “Anonymous,” who risks prison or torture by Islamic extremists for teaching Sudanese women their rights in the midst of a civil war.


“You cannot kill an idea, you cannot imprison freedom,” said Nelson Mandela. “The lives of the common women and men in this book, heroes every one, inspire all who believe in liberty and justice.”


In 1988, Kennedy established the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights for the protection of rights codified under the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights.  The Center provides a base of support to human rights defenders, and uncovers and publicizes abuses such as torture, disappearances, and repression of free speech; urges Congress and the administration to highlight human rights in foreign policy; supplies activists with the resources they need to advance their work; and creates other programs to advance respect for human rights. Kennedy also serves on the board of directors, of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, a non-profit organization that addresses the problems of social justice in the spirit of her late father.


For more information about the speaker, award recipient, or tickets to the event, call 419-930-2517.

Betty Morais







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