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Supreme Court Justice to Address CWU Diversity Dinner


Washington Supreme Court Justice Steven Gonzalez will offer the keynote remarks at Central Washington University’s 2016 Diversity Awards. The second annual event is scheduled for Wednesday, May 4, at 6 p.m. in the Student Union and Recreation Center Ballroom.
 
Presented by the Center for Diversity and Social Justice (CDSJ), in conjunction with the Office of the President and the university’s inclusivity and diversity council, the awards honor a member of university faculty, staff, a student and community member for demonstrated commitment to inclusivity and diversity through on- and off-campus efforts.  
 
“It is a time to acknowledge those who go above-and-beyond without asking for anything in return,” explained Veronica Gomez Vilchis, CDSJ diversity officer. “Each nominee contributes towards the recruitment and retention of diverse populations because they actively display respect towards all and exemplify customer service, especially to underrepresented students.”   

A passionate proponent of providing open access to the judicial system, Gonzalez co-chairs the Traveling Court program, under which the justices travel several times a year to bring Supreme Court proceedings to local communities across the state. Gonzalez and his fellow justices will hear cases at CWU as part of the Traveling Court program on May 4 and 5.

“He is certainly a role model and having him speak at the Diversity Awards is an honor,” Gomez Vilchis added. “Justice Gonzalez will discuss his background and challenges he’s faced that became stepping stones to his success. He has experience with different cultures and he has been able to take what he has learned from them and implement it throughout his career.”   

Gonzalez—who speaks Spanish, Japanese, and some Mandarin Chinese—studied in China and also earned a Rotary International-funded scholarship for graduate work in economics at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan. He is an alumnus of the University of California Berkeley School of Law, where he served as an editor for the La Raza Law Journal.

Gonzalez has been on Washington’s highest court since 2012, following a decade as a King County Superior Court trial judge, presiding over civil, criminal, juvenile, and family law cases. He also serves on the Washington Leadership Institute board, which works to develop diversity among bar association and community leaders. And he mentors students and practicing attorneys aspiring to the bench through the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law's Judicial Diversity Program.

Among his numerous awards, Gonzalez was named a “2012 Difference Makers Award” from the American Bar Association's Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division and the 2011 “Judge of the Year” by the Washington State Bar Association, Asian Bar Association of Washington, and the state chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates, and received the Exceptional Member Award from the Latino/a Bar Association of Washington in 2011.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, director of Radio Services and Integrated Communications, 509-963-1487, loweryr@cwu.edu

April 28, 2016