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Gregory L. Bauer receives of the Pillars of the Community Award
KBA, KBF announce 2024 Award Recipients

The Kansas Bar Association and Kansas Bar Foundation announce the recipients of their 2024 awards. Both organizations will recognize the award recipients at the 2024 KBA Annual Meeting in June.

Kansas Bar Association

The Kansas Bar Association will recognize 18 award recipients as the best and brightest of the Kansas legal community for 2024.

Chief Judge Merlin G. Wheeler is the recipient of the Phil Lewis Medal of Distinction, the KBA’s highest award. The award is reserved for individuals or organizations in Kansas who have performed outstanding and conspicuous service at the state, national, or international level in administration of justice, science, the arts, government, philosophy, law, or any other field offering relief or enrichment to others. Wheeler retired in 2022 as chief judge of the 5th Judicial District, which is composed of Chase and Lyon counties. 

William E. H. Quick, of Polsinelli Law Firm, Kansas City, Mo., is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award. The award recognizes an individual for continuous long-standing service on behalf of the legal profession or the public. Quick serves as the Corporate Transparency Act chair at Polsinelli.

Kevin F. Mitchelson, of Wheeler & Mitchelson Chartered, Pittsburg, is the recipient of the Professionalism Award. The award recognizes an individual who has practiced law for 10 or more years and by their conduct, honesty, integrity, and courtesy, best exemplifies, represents, and encourages other lawyers to follow the highest standards of the legal profession as identified by the KBA Hallmarks of the Profession.

Gregory L. Bauer, of Bauer Pike Bauer Wary, Carroll, & Gunn LLC, Great Bend, is the recipient of the Pillars of the Community Award. The award recognizes a Kansas lawyer with a minimum of 10 years active non-specialized, general legal practice in a predominately low-density population area of Kansas and substantial practice in small or solo law firms or local government service.

Mary Kathryn Webb, of the Law Office of M. Kathryn Webb LLC, Wichita, is the recipient of the Christel Marquardt Trailblazer Award. The award is named in honor of the Hon. Christel Marquardt, the first woman to serve as president of the Kansas Bar Association. The award honors exceptional KBA members who break new ground, shatter glass ceilings, or pave new paths for others to follow. The award is bestowed upon a member who has made innovative contributions to improve the legal profession or our communities, exhibiting courage, leadership, professional excellence, and service to the profession in a manner that makes a substantial and positive impact on all those who follow in their footsteps.

Judge Rebecca A. Sanders, chair of the Kansas Department of Labor Appeals Board, Topeka, is the recipient of the Distinguished Government Service Award. The award recognizes a Kansas judge or attorney who has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to government service.

Diana E. Stanley, of Depew Gillen Rathbun & McInteer LC, Wichita, is the recipient of the Outstanding Young Lawyer Award. The award recognizes the efforts of a KBA Young Lawyers Section member who has rendered meritorious service to the legal profession, the community, or the KBA.

Judge Rachel L. Pickering, Kansas Court of Appeals, is the recipient of the Diversity Award. The Diversity Award recognizes an individual who has shown a continued commitment to diversity or a law firm, corporation, governmental group, law-related organization, or other organization that has significantly advanced diversity by its conduct as well as by the development and implementation of diversity policies and strategic plans. Judge Pickering is the first Hispanic to serve on the Court and previously served as a district court judge for the 3rd Judicial District, which is composed of Shawnee County.

Receiving Outstanding Service Awards are: Heather R. Cessna, Executive Director at Kansas State Board of Indigents Defense Services, Topeka; Morgan E. Geffre, of Foulston Siefkin LLP, Wichita; and Carly M. Grit, Kansas Secured Title, Topeka. The awards recognize service that significantly advances the administration of justice or the goals of the legal profession and the KBA.

Receiving Pro Bono Awards are: Judge Renee S. Henry, Wyandotte County District Court; John H. Mitchelson, of Wheeler & Mitchelson Chartered, Pittsburg; and Calvin D. Rider, of Fleeson Gooing Coulson & Kitch, Wichita. The awards recognize lawyers or law firms that deliver direct legal services free of charge to the poor, or in appropriate instances to charitable organizations who primarily provide other services to the poor.

Receiving Pro Bono Certificates are: Norman E. Beal, volunteer help center attorney for Kansas Legal Services, Johnson County; Matthew L. Bretz, of Bretz Injury Law LLC, Hutchinson; Katherine J. Cronin, of Stinson LLP, Kansas City, Mo.; and Everett Fritz II, Overland Park. Pro Bono Certificates recognize lawyers who: are not employed full time by an organization that primarily provides free legal services to the poor; with no expectation of receiving a fee, have provided direct delivery of legal services in civil or criminal matters to a client or client group that has no resources to employ paid counsel; have voluntarily contributed a significant portion of time to provide legal services to the poor without charge; and/or lawyers whose voluntary contributions have resulted in increased access to legal services for low- and moderate-income persons.