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D.C. Bar Communities Announce Inaugural Trailblazer Award Recipients

June 08, 2022

By John Murph

To commemorate the D.C. Bar’s 50th anniversary, the D.C. Bar Communities Office will be honoring six outstanding Communities members with its inaugural Trailblazer Awards, recognizing their leadership in their respective practice areas, excellence in their professional and personal lives, and dedication to the mission of the D.C. Bar.

The honorees will be recognized at the D.C. Bar Celebration of Leadership on June 23 at the Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel.

De’Ana H. Dow
Corporation, Finance and Securities Law Community

De’Ana H. Dow, partner and general counsel at Capitol Counsel, LLP, is considered a nationally respected expert on energy markets and financial services issues. Previously Dow served as managing director for government affairs at CME Group, the world’s largest derivatives exchange, where she managed the organization’s efforts related to the Dodd–Frank financial regulatory reform bill. She was also senior vice president and chief legislative counsel for New York Mercantile Exchange, where she successfully guided the company through a complex legislative agenda involving the energy futures market.

Walter SmithWalter A. Smith Jr.
District of Columbia Affairs Community

As executive director of DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice for 21 years, Walter A. Smith Jr. managed teams of pro bono lawyers working in matters such as health care, education, voting rights, and environmental justice. Prior to joining DC Appleseed, Smith was special deputy corporation counsel at the D.C. Office of the Corporation Counsel (now the Office of the Attorney General), where he supervised litigation affecting school systems, set up pro bono assistance for the District from private law firms, and brought a suit before a three-judge federal court seeking voting representation for the District in Congress.

Priya RoyalPriya P. Royal
Estates, Trusts and Probate Law Community

Priya P. Royal is founder of the Royal Law Firm PLLC, specializing in trusts and estates, tax, and business law. Formerly an attorney with the Internal Revenue Service, Royal examined prominent and high net worth estate and gift tax returns. She was instrumental in a project to develop a better understanding of the implications of income tax law in estate and gift tax and to encourage better collaboration between the various tax divisions to help expedite the process for taxpayers.

Debra KatzDebra S. Katz
Labor and Employment Law Community

Katz, Marshall & Banks, LLP founding partner Debra S. Katz concentrates on employment discrimination; sexual harassment; wrongful discharge; the Sarbanes–Oxley Act on financial disclosures; corporate, environmental, and other whistleblower retaliation claims; U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission whistleblower tips; and contractual employment disputes. Throughout her legal career, Katz has successfully represented hundreds of whistleblowers in the nuclear, financial, pharmaceutical, and medical device industries. In 2018 Katz represented Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who came forward with sexual assault allegations against then-U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanagh.

Ben GroszBenjamin L. Grosz
Law Practice Management Community

Benjamin L. Grosz is a partner at Ivins, Phillips & Barker, Chartered, which specializes in tax law, employee benefits and compensation, and estate planning. Grosz advises clients on a broad range of federal income tax and gift and estate tax planning matters, as well as employee benefits issues. He has assisted clients in structuring settlements, asset sales, reorganizations, and charitable donations. Grosz regularly provides counsel regarding fiduciary duties and compliance with Internal Revenue Service and Employee Retirement Income Security Act rules with respect to retirement plans, trusts, businesses, nonprofits, and investments.

Scott M. Levine
Taxation Community

As a partner at Jones Day, Scott M. Levine advises on the tax aspects of corporate transactions, including cross-border and domestic mergers and acquisitions, spin-offs and other divestitures, restructurings, financings, and joint ventures. Levine also has negotiated private letter rulings with the Internal Revenue Service in the corporate, international, financial instruments, and energy tax credit areas. He is an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center and the International Tax Center Leiden in the Netherlands, where he teaches courses on corporate and international taxation.

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