OCBA Board Member Receives Ellis Island Medal of Honor

The OCBA is proud to share that OCBA board member Mary-Christine "MC" Sungaila, a Partner at Haynes & Boone LLP, received the 2017 Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

Sponsored by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, the Ellis Island Medals of Honor are presented each year on Ellis Island to individuals who have made it their mission to share with those less fortunate their wealth of knowledge, indomitable courage, boundless compassion, unique talents and selfless generosity; all while maintaining the traditions of their ethnic heritage as they uphold the ideals and spirit of America.

Sungaila has a longstanding commitment to pro bono legal work on behalf of women and girls, immigrants, Holocaust survivors’ families, and the underprivileged, and achievements in access to justice, privacy, and First Amendment issues. At the age of 29, she took on and won her first case before the U.S. Supreme Court, a decision which reinstated a criminal civil rights verdict against a state court judge who had abused his power by raping and sexually assaulting female court employees and litigants. She has provided free representation in at least one appellate case a year since 1996, resulting in significant victories at the international, national, and state levels, including a decision in a case against Mexico before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for the disappearances and killings of women and girls in Ciudad Juarez that has been lauded as one of the most important women’s rights decisions in decades and the first to interpret a women’s rights treaty. Sungaila is the daughter of a first-generation American of Lithuanian descent, whose parents came to America through Ellis Island, and a descendant of Spanish immigrants. She has contributed to the immigrant experience in America through her pro bono asylum work.

Past Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipients include seven Presidents of the United States, Nobel Prize winners, athletes, leaders of industry, artists and others whose work has made a lasting impact on humanity, such as Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali, Elie Weisel, Gregory Peck, Madeline Albright, Michael Eisner, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Congratulations to the 2017 Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipients. To browse all award recipients, click here.