- Margaret McKeown (1980-81) Receives 2017 Legacy of Leadership Award
The White House Fellows Foundation and Association presents the 2017 John W. Gardner Legacy of Leadership Award to The Honorable M. Margaret McKeown, White House Fellow 1980-81.
The Honorable M. Margaret McKeown exemplifies the essence of the John W. Gardner Legacy of Leadership Award. A tireless public servant with limitless energy who has given with abundance to the White House Fellows community, she is driven by an unwavering commitment to the ideals of justice and fellowship. To count her as one of our own is, indeed, our privilege.
Leadership and Dedication to Public Service: From a modest childhood in Wyoming to becoming the first woman partner at a major law firm in Seattle, Judge McKeown served as a White House Fellow in 1980-81, serving as Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Interior for Secretary Cecil Andrus, and then as Special Assistant at the White House. She returned to the practice of law until 1998. Nominated by President Bill Clinton, Judge McKeown has served on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals since 1998.
As a federal judge, Judge McKeown is at the top of her chosen field and, indeed, is a leader in the federal judiciary. She was elected as the President of the Federal Judges Association in 2013. During her tenure, she led the successful effort to restore judicial salaries, which included legislative and litigation efforts that spanned many years. She also expanded the association’s work in civics education, particularly in outreach to schools.
Judge McKeown, an expert on judicial ethics, was appointed by Chief Justice Roberts to Chair the Codes of Conduct Committee (judicial ethics) of the Judicial Conference of the United States, the national governing body of the federal courts. During her tenure, the committee revised the federal judicial ethics code. She pioneered work on ethics and social media, was a member of the ABA Task Force to revise the model judicial ethics code, and worked with numerous foreign judiciaries in drafting and revising their ethics codes.
Currently, she is the judiciary’s representative to the review of the federal judiciary being undertaken by the Council of Europe Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO).
Judge McKeown is a long-time leader in rule of law programs designed to enhance judicial independence, create sustainable models for economic opportunity and achieve justice and equity. She currently serves as Chair of the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative Board (ROLI), a volunteer position. ROLI works in more than 50 countries; its budget is almost $50 million. Before becoming the chair of ROLI, Judge McKeown chaired its Latin America and Caribbean Council. She has met extensively with high-level government and judicial officials, but also with local activists and civic society organizations. She spearheaded projects on transparency, corruption, sex trafficking, criminal justice reform, refugee assistance and human rights.
Judge McKeown frequently helps train lawyers, judges and other government officials on media outreach, ethics, trial advocacy, intellectual property, women’s rights and human rights. She has tackled challenges arising from the Arab Spring (including in Tunisia and Egypt), issues related to criminal justice reform (Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, Peru), helped extend commercial outreach (UAE and Bahrain), and dealt with death penalty and Internet freedom issues in China. Judge McKeown freely volunteers her expertise to other organizations, including the U.S. Department of State and the Organization for Security and Cooperation Europe (OSCE). She is a recognized leader in international law and founded the Immigration Justice Project, an innovative effort to assess the impact of counsel for individuals in immigration proceedings. She also serves on the Council of the American Law Institute and as an advisor on projects related to copyright, international law and international arbitration.
Judge McKeown and her husband, UCSD Professor Peter Cowhey, live in La Jolla, California where she is active in supporting local cultural and educational institutions. Two of her passions are the Girl Scouts of America, on whose national board she served for many years and the Sky High Hope Camp for children with cancer where she spends a week every summer as the crafts counselor.
Support of the White House Fellows Program: Judge McKeown served the White House Fellows’ community as President and a Board Member of the WHFFA. While President of the WHFFA, she served on the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. She has initiated regional gatherings of Fellows and organized regional meetings in San Diego and San Francisco, was on the first Fellows’ trip to Vietnam, hosted reading sessions, served on regional selection panels in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and hosted regional panels at the Ninth Circuit Courthouse in Pasadena.
As one of Judge McKeown’s colleagues sums her up: “Margaret has contributed so much to so many, with open heart and open hands, with energy and grace and humor. She represents all that is best in American public service, and she is worthy of being compared with John Gardner.”
For her lifetime of leadership and service, for her dedication to her profession and her community, and for her enduring support to the White House Fellows program, we proudly present Judge Margaret McKeown with the 2017 John W. Gardner Legacy of Leadership Award.
Please feel free to send Judge McKeown your congratulations at the following email address: email@example.com: September 5, 2017