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Honoree Bios

Law Day 2014

St. Thomas More Award
Honorable Lynda M. Connolly (ret.) ‘74   

Former Chief Justice Lynda M. Connolly began her career as a Special Prosecutor in the Major Violator's Division of the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office; practiced corporate and regulatory law at Gallagher & Gallagher, P.C. in Boston; and was appointed to the bench by Governor William F. Weld in 1997. She served as the Acting First Justice in the Charlestown District Court, First Justice of the Dedham District Court, and—in June 2004—was appointed Chief Justice of the District Court, the largest department of the Massachusetts Trial Court.

Working with Court leadership, Chief Justice Connolly championed the implementation of management initiatives throughout the Commonwealth's 62 District Courts, including the introduction of the MassCourts statewide computer system, the introduction of time standards, performance measures of timeliness and expedition in resolving cases, the creation of a staffing model and ongoing training programs including the development of a curriculum for team management training and the implementation of a mentoring program for judges. Serving as co-chair of the Trial Court's Fiscal Task Force, Judge Connolly led the annual effort to secure and appropriately spend the Trial Court's $560,000,000 budget appropriation.

Judge Connolly holds appointments as Chief of Staff to President Helen G. Drinan at Simmons College, and as Adjunct Associate Professor of Law at Suffolk University Law School and at New England Law/Boston. She has served as a guest lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and at the Harvard School of Public Health, and is the author of "Wills, Estates and Trusts" in the 1981 Annual Survey of Massachusetts Law published by Boston College Law School. In 2008 she was awarded the Daniel J. Toomey Judicial Excellence Award by the Massachusetts Bar Association and Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. In 2009 she received the Distinguished Service Award from the Massachusetts Judges Conference for her work in overseeing the Trial Court's response to the fiscal crisis; in 2010 she received the Judicial Excellence Award from the Boston Bar Association for her work in co-chairing the Trial Court's Fiscal Task Force, and was named Woman of the Year by the Boston College Women's Law Center. In 2012 Judge Connolly received the Mary Daly Curtin and John J. Curtin Public Interest Law Award from Boston College Law School. Judge Connolly was a founding member of the Alumni Board of Boston College Law School.

A graduate of the College of William & Mary and Boston College Law School, Judge Connolly resides in West Roxbury with her husband, Michael.

William J. Kenealy, SJ Alumnus of the Year Award 
Joseph M. Vanek ‘87

Joseph Vanek has practiced in the field of commercial litigation for over 25 years, with particular focus in the fields of intellectual property and antitrust. In the antitrust arena, Mr. Vanek focuses on opt-out litigation by representing large corporate clients who have over paid for products or services as a result of an antitrust violation. Mr. Vanek also has considerable experience in the area of trademark law.  In this regard, Mr. Vanek has represented numerous clients in the domestic and worldwide clearance, selection and registration of trademarks.  Mr. Vanek’s trademark clients range from internationally renowned branding companies and Fortune 100 companies to entrepreneurial startups.

Mr. Vanek earned his Juris Doctor degree from Boston College Law School in May, 1987 where he graduated with honors.  Mr. Vanek received his Bachelor of Arts degree, Magna Cum Laude, from Creighton University in 1984.

Beyond the strict confines of the practice of law, Mr. Vanek has been involved in founding and fostering several companies.  In 2004, Mr. Vanek co-founded Automark Technical Systems, LLC which designed and sold voting machine solutions for the disabled.  In less than four years, Automark achieved in excess of $100 million in sales, resulted in two patents being awarded to Mr. Vanek.  After Automark achieved in excess of forty percent market share for its products, the company was sold to a leading election company.

Recently, Mr. Vanek assisted in the creation of Array Enterprises, LLC, a business dedicated to the employee and customer incentive and reward business.  Since inception, Array enterprises has experienced strong growth and is quickly becoming a leader in the industry.

Mr. Vanek is also very active in supporting his alma mater, Boston College Law School.  He currently serves as the chair of the Dean’s Advisory Board, and is an Alumni Board member for annual giving.

Mr. Vanek has been married for 22 years to Laura, and they have two children: Kaylee, who is attending Marquette, and Allyson, who is a Junior in high school at Benet Academy.

Hon. David S. Nelson Public Interest Law Award
Maryam Elahi ‘86

Maryam Elahi is the president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut.  She joined this organization in September 2013 after twenty-five years of leadership in the international human rights community as an advocate, teacher and grant-maker. She was previously the director of the International Women’s Program at the Open Society Foundations, a global philanthropic organization, where she supported organizations empowering women in conflict and post-conflict countries. Prior to OSF, Ms. Elahi was the founding director of the Human Rights Program at Trinity College in Hartford. She established the first undergraduate college human rights program in the United States. She taught courses on international human rights law at Trinity, as well as at the Oxford University Summer International Human Rights Program. During her ten years at Trinity, she traveled extensively to set up international programs with a human rights focus, resulting in the establishment of programs in Cape Town, Santiago, Trinidad, and Hong Kong.

Ms. Elahi served as the Advocacy Director on the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe for Amnesty International in DC from 1990 to 1997. During this period, she testified frequently before congressional committees, lectured widely, and made presentations before the media, policy and academic institutions. She had previously developed AI’s work on gender and human rights. She has carried out missions for AI and other human rights organizations to numerous countries, including Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Iraq, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Northern Ireland, and Guatemala.  She also worked at the Lawyer’s Committee for Human Rights in 1988-89.

Ms. Elahi was the chair of the International Human Rights Committee of the American Bar Association, and has served on numerous boards including the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children, the ACLU of Connecticut, and AI’s Policy Board. She has written and lectured on a wide range of human rights and foreign policy issues. Some of her publications include “Seizing the Day in Iran” (The Boston Globe), “Physician Participation in Human Rights Abuses in Southern Iraq” (JAMA), “Doctors with ‘Dirty Hands’” (Washington Post), “Military Tribunals: A Travesty of Justice” (HUMAN RIGHTS), “War Without end on Congo’s Women” (Project Syndicate), and “Put Hussein on Trial for Crimes Against Humanity” (The Hartford Courant).

Ms. Elahi is a graduate of Tuft University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Boston College Law School, and Williams College. She has made her home in Old Saybrook, CT since 2000.

Daniel G. Holland Lifetime Achievement Award
George P. Field ‘78

George Field is an attorney at Block & Roos in Boston. He brings hard-won skills in hundreds of trials, appeals, mediations, and arbitrations to his broad-ranging practice in dispute resolution and related legal advising. George has successfully represented businesses and individuals in business and partnership restructuring and separation; fiduciary and directors' and officers' disputes; patent, trademark and copyright litigation; commercial and employment litigation and mediation; bankruptcy litigation including claims resolution, contested matters and adversary proceedings; international arbitration, real estate and title disputes;  trusts and estates and probate litigation; and many other areas.

George is also a trained and credentialed mediator in MA. He provides confidentiality protected by statute in the mediation of all commercial, estate, probate and family disputes. 

George is an active member of the Bar in Florida as well as Massachusetts. George has been consistently rated among the Best Lawyers in America (Commercial Litigation, Bankruptcy Litigation, Trusts & Estates Litigation) from 2005-2013; a Massachusetts Super Lawyer (Top 100 in 2008, 2011) from 2004-2012; and a New England Super Lawyer (Top 100 in 2011) from 2011-2012.

He has also received the Fraser Award for Pro Bono Excellence from the Boston Arts and Business Council (Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts).

George is a graduate and active alumnus of Boston Latin School, Harvard College, and Boston College Law School. He is a former Alumni Board President at Boston College Law School.  Dedicated to “paying forward” on his success, George has led programs for Boston urban youth for more than twenty years, including: the Boston Bar Association High School Summer Jobs Program; the Discovering Justice civic education program; the Boston Latin School Foundation; and the Boston College Law School loan repayment assistance program for public-service graduates. George is currently a board member of the Boston Bar Foundation (and its Grants Committee) and the South Boston Neighborhood House.

Special Service Award
George D. Brown

George Brown is the Robert Drinan, S.J., Professor of Law. Most recently he served as Interim Dean of the Law School, 2010-2011. He is a specialist in the field of federal-state relations and government ethics. In both areas he draws on his extensive experience in state government. He has served as Legislative Assistant to the Governor of Massachusetts and as Assistant Attorney General of Massachusetts. In 1994, Governor William Weld appointed him Chair of the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission.  Professor Brown is the author of over forty law review articles, and is best known for his articles on the jurisdiction of federal courts and on political corruption. He has also served as Chair of the Section on Federal Courts of the Association of American Law Schools.
In the field of government ethics, Professor Brown has written several articles on recent judicial developments. His current research focuses on the role of the courts in the War on Terror, and on differing concepts of corruption in criminal prosecutions and campaign finance reform.
Professor Brown received his A.B. from Harvard and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.