Judge Andi Mudryk understands the power of representation. As a trans woman with a significant disability, she remembers what it was like to grow up without seeing anyone like herself in a position of power. Even after she began practicing law, she did not allow herself to dream of becoming a judge. “I just didn’t think it was possible,” she said.
In March of 2022, after decades fighting for justice on behalf of marginalized communities and people living with disabilities, Andi became the first openly transgender person in California history to be appointed to the bench, and only the second openly transgender judge in the state.
“I feel an incredible responsibility to be open and stand out,” she said. “I now have this privilege to show that it’s possible.”
NLSLA will be honoring Andi with the Trailblazer Award at our 16th annual Just Neighbors celebration, which will take place on October 16, 2022 at the Skirball Cultural Center.
At this year’s event, NLSLA will also honor our very own Fred Nakamura with the Legal Excellence Award. In his early years representing tenants in some of Los Angeles’ poorest neighborhoods, Fred was known to bring a camera and a toolbox to his clients’ homes—the first to document the problems, and the second to try and fix them. More than 40 years later, after decades of successful legal advocacy spanning multiple practice areas and impacting tens of thousands of lives, not much has changed. Earlier this year, Fred, now in his 60s, could be found walking up and down 16 flights of stairs to deliver water, food and other basic necessities to elderly and disabled clients in a building without a single working elevator.
Each and every day Fred shows all of us here at NLSLA what it means to be a community lawyer, and we have long been in awe of his remarkable work and his boundless compassion.
Fred is a recognized expert in eviction defense, rent control, relocation assistance, federally subsidized housing, affordable housing development, homeowner fraud, and mobile home issues. But Fred is not simply a lawyer. He fixes appliances, plumbing, and even cars. He helps vulnerable clients clean bedbug-infested apartments to avoid lease violations.
Earlier this year, despite his lifelong efforts to evade attention, Fred was chosen as the 2022 recipient of the National Legal Aid & Defender Association’s Kutak-Dodds Prize for exceptional work in civil legal aid. We are so privileged to have Fred on our team here at NLSLA, and so excited to give him the recognition he deserves.
CLICK HERE to purchase tickets to this year’s Just Neighbors or to make a donation honoring Fred or Andi.