On October 2nd, we will be honoring people and organizations who have made outstanding contributions to justice and opportunity for all Nebraskans at the 2014 Good Apple Awards.
Leading up to the event, we will introduce you to the 2014 award recipients.
Jan Gradwohl – Jim Wolf Equal Justice Award
The Jim Wolf Equal Justice Award recognizes a Nebraskan who has made significant contributions to justice for all throughout his or her career. It is given in the spirit of the late Jim Wolf, a founding Appleseed board member who possessed a lifelong dedication to promoting the common good. The award is given to an individual who is committed to public service without regard to their own economic or political gain.
Jan Gradwohl has dedicated her entire career to the principle of equal justice and fairness before the law after seeing how our systems of power kept long-standing barriers in place for many.
Jan graduated from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 1954 and became a lawyer at a time when few women work in the profession. She quickly rose to the highest ranks of the profession to become a judge. She was the fourth female judge appointed in Nebraska and the first in Lancaster County, serving as the presiding judge of the Lincoln Municipal Court and Lancaster County Court.
From the bench, Jan worked to ensure all were treated with fairness and equity in our legal system and confronted racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination in the courts. She has been honored with distinguished service awards on both the state and national level including being the first recipient of the Nebraska State Bar Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Women and the Law.
Jan’s fight for equal rights and opportunity did not end after her legal career was finished. Upon retirement, she gave up her title of retired judge so she could work actively in advocacy efforts. She has lent her voice and time to the fight to fix our outdated immigration system and to protect the right to vote for all eligible Nebraska voters.
Along with her late husband John, Jan was an influential presence within the University of Nebraska College of Law serving as both a professor and mentor to countless law students, many of whom keep in contact today.
For all of her work and efforts to protect the ideal of fairness and equity within our institutions of power, we honor Jan Gradwohl with the 2014 Jim Wolf Equal Justice Award.