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Professor Brenda Saunders-Hampden Honored by the Association of Black Women Lawyers

Professor Saunders was honored by the Association of Black Women Lawyers of New Jersey; she received the prestigious Private Sector Change Maker Award at the Association’s Annual Scholarship Jazz Brunch before a crowd of over 400 people, including New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine. The award was given to Professor Saunders in Recognition of her “Dedication To Improving The Legal Profession By Being An Instrument for Positive Change.” In addition, first year Seton Hall Law student Chandra Betner-Wood was awarded an ABWL Scholarship. Rhonda Medina, Esq., Senior Vice-President of Business & Legal Affairs for Nickelodeon Television/MTV Networks Kids & Family delivered the keynote address, Christina Bennett, Director of Seton Hall Law’s Academic Success Program and the LEO program, was given the honor of formally introducing Professor Saunders, and Joan Burke, President of the ABWL bestowed the award.

Professor Saunders’ long history as a champion of civil rights and an educator was honored and celebrated by the ABWL. From the age of 11 when her presence alone desegregated the all-white junior high school of High Point, North Carolina, to the gunfire she dodged at a press conference she held in a church during the civil rights movement of the 1960’s; from Howard University where she received her Masters degree in Music Education and went on to Stanford to study Ethnomusicology to Seton Hall Law, where she helped set the groundwork for creating Seton Hall’s Legal Education Opportunities Program (LEO), a program which Professor Saunders not only worked to establish as a law student, but later came to direct as a faculty member. The LEO program has just celebrated it’s 30th anniversary and boasts nearly 1,000 alumni who have distinguished themselves in every walk of legal life.

In addition, the audience heard how Professor Saunders has served as the founding director of the Summer Institute for Pre-Legal Studies at Seton Hall Law since the program’s inception in 1980. Now entering its twenty-ninth year as a program designed for New Jersey college students with socio-economic and/or educational disadvantage and an interest in the Law, Pre-Legal is widely hailed as a tremendous success.

Christina Bennett spoke for the entire Seton Hall Law community when she said “We are truly blessed and empowered by the changes in the legal landscape and in legal education that have been made by and because of the timing of this wonderful professor, attorney, woman, mother, daughter, personal mentor and friend to the legal community. Please join me in thanking Professor Brenda Saunders-Hampden.”

Seton Hall University School of Law, New Jersey's only private law school and a leading law school in the New York metropolitan area, is dedicated to preparing students for the practice of law through excellence in scholarship and teaching, with a strong focus on clinical education. Founded in 1951, Seton Hall Law School is located in Newark and offers both day and evening degree programs. For more information visit