Defenders of Justice

Defenders of Justice (DOJ) Awards are given by the Justice Center to honor individuals or organizations who are making significant contributions in the following areas: Litigation; Research and Policy Development; Public Policy Advocacy and Grassroots Empowerment/Community Capacity Building. Recipients will be honored at our annual Defenders of Justice Event.  

Click Here to Learn About Sponsorships - Deadline to be included in program is Monday, March 31

This year's 16th Annual DOJ event will be held on Tuesday, April 22, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the William and Ida Friday Center, located at 100 Friday Center Drive in Chapel Hill.

Please contact Melissa Wiggins for details on sponsorship opportunities at (919) 861-2209 or


Click here to see photos of last year's event.



Congressman G.K. Butterfield voiced strong support for unemployment benefits for laid off workers, expansion of Medicaid to cover more uninsured families, and held numerous town halls for citizens to learn about the Affordable Care Act.


Planned Parenthood in North Carolina mobilized and led a coalition of groups and individuals fighting for reproductive justice for women bringing constant attention to the reproductive rights debate in our state.

League of Women Voters – Piedmont Triad organized its members and the public in fights for voting rights, campaign finance reform, and immigration reform among many other issues, and they championed a campaign for health care access through the Affordable Care Act.

League of Women Voters – Charlotte-Mecklenburg, much like their counterparts in the Triad, also focused tremendous attention and advocacy around the changes in the state’s tax structure and state budget, fighting for progressive tax reform and investments in the state’s future.


Mona Lisa Wallace, partner in the Salisbury law firm of Wallace and Graham, has long fought against predatory lenders and payday loan operators who have trapped low and middle class families in unscrupulous loans.  She has been a leading litigator fighting for workers who have been harmed by unsafe workplaces. 


NC Moms Rising taps into the power of mothers who feel underrepresented and disempowered by providing presentations about issues such as how education cuts will harm our children, and what rights mothers have in the workplace. 

NC Raise Up is leading efforts for a living wage for fast food workers in the state and bringing attention to the struggles they have to make ends meet, while noting that the government must often provide them with benefits because of their low wages and poor working conditions.



Legislative & Administrative Advocacy: Wayne Goodwin, NC Commissioner of Insurance



Litigation: Phil Lehman, NC Office of the Attorney General



Litigation: Mortgage Foreclosure Unit, Legal Aid of NC



Policy Research & Advocacy: Equality NC



Grassroots Empowerment:  A. Philip Randolph Institute





See video and photos from last year's event on our YouTube and Flickr pages.

Past Defenders of Justice Award Recipients