Dallas Bar Association Executive Director Catharine Maher received the Dallas Minority Attorney Program’s Legacy Award for her outstanding commitment to diversity at a ceremony Friday.

Cathy Maher 2015“I am honored to receive this award,” Maher said in a statement. “ I am very proud of the efforts of the Dallas Bar Association and its commitment to diversity through so many of our programs. The Dallas Bar Association is known as an organization of diverse attorneys and an organization that embraces diversity.”

Since Maher took the reins of the association 22 years ago, the organization has twice received recognition from the American Bar Association for outstanding diversity initiatives such as the Dallas Minority Attorney Program, the Minority Attorney Business Development Initiative and the Minority Participation Committee.

Under Maher’s tenure the association has also implemented the Dismantling the Schools to Prison to Pipeline Program, supported the Bar None variety show, which raises funds for Sarah T. Hughes Diversity Scholarships, continued hosting legal clinics in the community and a recent implicit bias seminar.

“The mindset of a company or an organization is most effectively changed not from the bottom up but from the top down,” Dallas Minority Attorney Program Co-Chairwoman Rhonda Hunter said in a press release. “Leadership must embrace the idea of a diverse membership and take effective action to ensure that diversity is embraced. Cathy Maher has embraced diversity.”

Hunter, of Farrow-Gillespie & Heath, said Maher’s efforts during her time as executive director of the bar association have encouraged, fostered and sponsored diversity.

The Dallas Minority Attorney Program does not give the award every year but rather presents it only when the program, which is a part of the Dallas Bar Association, deems a worthy recipient.

Past winners of the award include Lisa Tatum, the first African American president of the State Bar, and the late Dallas attorney and civil rights leader Adelfa Callejo.

Maher announced last fall she would retire from her position as executive director at the end of this year.