Prestigious Darrow-Harris Award acknowledges generous pro bono work of local attorneys


(l-r) Tish Lee, managing attorney, Legal Services of South Central Michigan; Teresa Killeen, judicial attorney to presiding Probate Judge Julia Owdziej; and Washtenaw County Treasurer Catherine McClary. 


Photo by Sue Bos

By Washtenaw County Bar Association

Washtenaw County Treasurer Catherine McClary, and Teresa Killeen on behalf of presiding Probate Judge Julia Owdziej, accepted the prestigious Darrow-Harris Award for the Home for Generations program. The award was presented at the annual Washtenaw County Bench-Bar conference and luncheon on Friday, May 6, at Travis Pointe Country Club. 

The award recognizes the generous contributions of 30 local attorneys and family mediators for their extraordinary pro bono work. The attorneys provided 662 hours of pro bono service for Home for Generations.

Home for Generations assists families living in inherited homes or homes purchased informally during segregation and discriminatory lending. Attorneys and family mediators work pro bono to provide targeted assistance to clear title, establish ownership and create property wealth for families, often for the first time. This exceptional partnership stabilizes housing options; preserves homeownership; and has transferred, to date, over $1.3 million in wealth to families in Washtenaw County.

McClary, Washtenaw County Treasurer since 1997, oversees the receipting and accounting of a billion dollars each year for the county. She manages the County’s investment portfolio of $275 million and collects delinquent property taxes. 

McClary initiated the program with Judge Owdziej to prevent property tax foreclosure.

Judge Owdziej started her legal career as an Assistant Michigan Attorney General. She began working for the County in 1991 and presides over juvenile delinquency matters and probate cases. 

Elected as Judge in 2014, Owdziej is a member of the State Drug Treatment Court Advisory Committee and a long time 4-H leader.

The Darrow-Harris Award, named for Peter Darrow and Robert Harris, is bestowed annually for significant contributions to pro bono or public service work in Washtenaw County. In giving this award, the Washtenaw County Bar Association, in collaboration with Legal Services of South Central Michigan, remembers in memoriam the generous personal contributions of Darrow and Harris to individuals in need of legal services.

Attorney General Dana Nessel served as the Keynote speaker at the Bench-Bar conference and 150 attorneys attended. 

Other dignitaries included Ann Routt, Executive Director of the Michigan Advocacy Program; Tish Lee, Managing Attorney of Legal Services of South Central Michigan; Kyeena Slater, Executive Director of the Washtenaw County Bar Association; Charles W. Borgsdorf, the 2020 Darrow-Harris Award recipient; Belinda Dulin, Executive Director of the Dispute Resolution Center; Sue Bos, Deputy Treasurer; Eli Savit, County Prosecutor; Victoria Burton-Harris, Chief Assistant Prosecutor; and Sue Shink, Chair of the Board of Commissioners.

Each of the Chief Judges provided updates on the County’s courts: Chief Judge Karen Quinlan Valvo of the 15th District Court (City of Ann Arbor), Chief Judge Erane C. Washington of the 14B District Court (Charter Township of Ypsilanti), and Chief Judge Carol A. Kuhnke of the Washtenaw Trial Court and 14A District Courts (Cities of Saline, Chelsea, and Ypsilanti and Charter Township of Pittsfield).


Photo by Doug Coombe

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