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Santa Clara University School of Law to Honor Human Rights Advocates Simao J. Avila '83, The Honorable Judge Rise Pichon '76, and Intel

Monday, Sep. 26, 2011

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Sept. 26, 2011—On Oct. 27, Santa Clara University School of Law will honor two outstanding alumni at the eighth annual Diversity Gala: A Celebration of Diversity in the Legal Profession.

The Santa Clara Law Social Justice and Human Rights Awards will be given to The Honorable Judge Risë Pichon ’76 and Simão J. Ávila ’83 in honor of their work for equality and human rights during their careers. At the event, Santa Clara Law will also honor Intel Corp. as the Santa Clara University Diversity Gala Organization of the Year.

In addition to recognizing outstanding individuals in the cause of equality, social justice, and human rights, the Diversity Gala also provides students an opportunity to build valuable relationships with members of the legal profession.

Santa Clara Law welcomes students, faculty, and alumni, as well as members of the bench and bar to attend this event on Tuesday, Oct. 27, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Paul L. Locatelli, S.J., Student Activity Center, Santa Clara University, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053.

Judge Risë Jones Pichon has been a California Superior Court judge of the County of Santa Clara since 1998. She is currently the assistant supervising judge of the Superior Court’s Criminal Division, the chairperson of the Superior Court Jury Standards Committee, and is a member of a number of other court committees. She previously served as a judge of the Municipal Court from 1984 to 1998 when the trial courts unified, and as a court commissioner from 1983 to 1984. She earned her J.D. from Santa Clara Law in 1976 and a B.S. in mathematics from SCU in 1973. She served as supervising judge of the Palo Alto Court Facility from 2006 to 2009; supervising judge of the Sunnyvale Court Facility from 1999 to 2001; presiding judge of the Municipal Court from 1999 to 2001; and is currently serving her second term by election on the Santa Clara County Superior Court Executive Committee. She was appointed by the California Supreme Court to the California Commission on Judicial Performance and served from 1999 to 2007, including service as chairperson from 2002 to 2004. She was appointed to the Judicial Council of California by the chief justice of the California Supreme Court and served from 1994 to 1997. She is a member of The California Judges Association, the American Bar Association, the American Leadership Forum and the American Inns of Court, William A. Ingram Inn, and she currently serves on the board of directors of the St. Thomas More Society as its president, and is a member of the advisory board for the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at SCU.

Simão “Sim” J. Ávila was born on the island of São Jorge, Azores (Portugal). He emigrated to the United States as a teenager with his parents and five siblings and was the first of his family to attend college. He earned a B.A. in philosophy from Saint Patrick’s College in 1977 and then joined the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) where he worked at Casa de los Niños in Tijuana and Tecate, Mexico. He says this experience led him to become a lawyer instead of a priest. He earned his J.D. from Santa Clara Law in 1983, and he began his practice with the National Labor Relations Board in San Juan, Puerto Rico, representing workers, unions, and employers as a field attorney for Region 24. He later returned to the Bay Area, where he practiced for 16 years at the law firm Littler Mendelson and became a shareholder. He represented many private- and public-sector clients on nearly all aspects of employment and labor law during that period. In 2001, he became labor and employment counsel for the Office of General Counsel, University of California. Since 2007, he has served as senior counsel in legal and government relations for Kaiser Permanente, where he is also on the diversity committee. He lectures at Stanford Law and at U.C. Berkeley, Boalt Hall, on negotiations and alternative dispute resolution. He has been a board member with Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, the Alameda County Community Food Bank, and St. Vincent’s Day Home.

The Intel Corporation is a leader in developing a workplace that values and promotes diversity. The company develops annual diversity action plans that are monitored quarterly, with rigorous indicators related to recruitment and performance management. The company has three leadership councils made up of Intel’s most senior African-American, Hispanic, and female leaders, who serve as visible role models, sponsors, and passionate voices for employees. Intel has been recognized for its diversity practices, including being named to Working Mother magazine’s “100 Best Companies” list, and has, for nine consecutive years, earned a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for policies that support lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees. 

About Santa Clara University School of Law
This year, Santa Clara University School of Law celebrates its first 100 years of educating lawyers who lead. Founded in 1911 on the site of California’s oldest operating higher-education institution, Santa Clara Law is dedicated to educating lawyers who lead, with a commitment to excellence, ethics, and social justice. One of the nation’s most diverse law schools, Santa Clara Law offers its 975 students an academically rigorous program, including graduate degrees in international law and intellectual property law; a combined J.D./MBA degree; a combined J.D./MSIS degree; and certificates in high-technology law, international law, and public interest and social justice law. Santa Clara Law is located in the world-class business center of Silicon Valley, and is distinguished nationally for its top-ranked program in intellectual property. For more information, see

Media Contact
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations | 408-554-5121 |


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