NLADA Announces 2014 Kutak-Dodds Prize Winners

Ellen Katz and Edward Ungvarsky to Receive Awards in June

Ellen KatzEdward Ungvarsky

Washington, D.C., May 8, 2014 - The National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) is pleased to announce that the Kutak-Dodds Selection Committee has chosen Ellen Katz, litigation/executive director at the William E. Morris Institute for Justice, as the civil legal aid community recipient, and Edward Ungvarsky, capital defender at the Office of the Capital Defender for Northern Virginia, as the public defense community recipient of the 2014 Kutak-Dodds Prize. Both winners have made extraordinary contributions to access to justice and will be honored at the annual NLADA Exemplar Award Dinner on Thursday, June 26, 2014, at the beautiful Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C.

“I am thrilled that Ellen Katz and Edward Ungvarsky have been selected as the 2014 Kutak-Dodds Prize winners,” declared Jo-Ann Wallace, NLADA President & CEO. “So many lives have been indelibly impacted by Ellen and Edward’s advocacy and their work has reinforced the principle of justice for all under the law. They are truly inspirational role models, and it is a privilege to give them the recognition and honor they so well deserve.”

Ellen Katz is recognized for more than 34 years of dedicated public service in Arizona serving those who cannot afford to pay for legal representation.  She is a tireless advocate who has brought about real policy change, including statewide improvements in the provision of language access services and the expansion of access to Medicaid.   Through exemplary legal expertise and dedication, Katz has protected services and rights for countless low-income people in Arizona. 

Edward Ungvarsky is honored for his prestigious 20-year career as a public defender.  He is recognized for his remarkable compassion to clients and innovative thinking in litigation.  Since joining the Northern Virginia Capital Defender Office, Ungvarsky has played a direct role in significantly reducing the number of death sentences in the state and for changing the capital legal culture to enable full fact investigation by qualified private investigators in each case.

Since 1989, the Kutak-Dodds Prizes have been awarded to attorneys that have significantly contributed to the human dignity and quality of life of individuals unable to afford legal representation. The annual prize acknowledges two advocates for equal justice, one from the civil legal aid community and another from the public defense community. The prizes are jointly sponsored by The Robert J. Kutak Foundation and NLADA in memory of Robert J. Kutak and Kenneth R. Dodds.  Each Prize carries a cash award of $10,000.

On behalf of The Robert J. Kutak Foundation, Jennifer Blunt, Of Counsel at Kutak Rock LLP, stated, “We extend our warm congratulations to Ellen Katz and Edward Ungvarsky.  We are deeply moved by their enormous contributions to the equal justice community and the clients they serve, and we are honored to celebrate their outstanding career achievements.”

The Kutak-Dodds Prizes, established in 1989, are jointly sponsored by the Robert J. Kutak Foundation and NLADA and bestowed in memory of Robert J. Kutak and Kenneth R. Dodds. Both men were former partners in the Omaha, Nebraska Office of Kutak-Rock, and practitioners and advocates of public service, legal education and high ethical standards throughout their lives. In addition to legal services for the poor, the Kutak Foundation supports education in professional ethics, minority scholarships and a variety of other public interest projects. The Foundation is maintained by Mr. Kutak’s former friends and associates.

Founded in 1911, NLADA is America's oldest and largest nonprofit association devoted to ensuring excellence in the delivery of legal services to those who cannot afford counsel. For 100 years, NLADA has pioneered access to justice at the national, state and local levels through the creation of many of the first public defense systems in the country, creation of the concept of a national center to protect the right to counsel, development of nationally applicable standards for legal representation, and groundbreaking legal legislation. NLADA serves as the collective voice for our country's civil legal aid and public defender services and provides advocacy, training, and technical assistance.  For more information, visit

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