Four Chicagoans’ Achievements Recognized With Thurgood Marshall College Fund Awards of Excellence

CHICAGO (June 16, 2011) - The “Who’s-Who” in Chicago will fill the room on Thursday, July 14, 2011 at the First Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) Chicago Awards of Excellence event.

With TMCF Board Member Stanley B. Stallworth, Esq. serving as the Honorary Chair, this highly anticipated event will be held at the Law Offices of Sidley Austin LLP, 1 South Dearborn, 37th Floor, Chicago. The event will feature a strolling supper and reception that will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by an awards program that will start at 6:30 p.m.

This event is part of TMCF’s regional Awards of Excellence program, which honors deserving individuals across the country. Honorees are chosen based on their proven leadership, community involvement, professional and civic excellence, as well as their contributions to education and diversity.

This year’s honorees include: Martin R. Castro, Esq., President & CEO of Castro Synergies, LLC, and Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights & the Illinois Human Rights Commission; Maria C. Green, Esq., Deputy General Counsel at Illinois Tool Works; James D. Montgomery, Esq., Partner, Cochran, Cherry, Givens, Smith & Montgomery; and Kimberly Y. Smith, M.D., Infectious Disease Specialist at Rush University Medical Center.

“These community leaders serve as role models for the nearly 300,000 young men and women who are matriculating on our 47-member school campuses,” said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., TMCF’s President & CEO.  “We acknowledge their efforts to continue to unite people of all ethnicities and backgrounds to ensure that educational opportunities are available for everyone.”

The First Annual Chicago Awards of Excellence is the third of five regional events that will take place in 2011. The New Jersey “Awards of Excellence” event took place in the Greater Newark area in March, the First Annual Distinguished Young Leader Awards took place in Miami, in May, and future events will include Charlotte, NC and Los Angeles. For sponsorship opportunities and ticket information, please contact: Mary V. Jones: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 201-227-8427.

2011 Honorees

Martin R. Castro, Esq.
President & CEO of Castro Synergies, LLC, and Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights & the Illinois Human Rights Commission

Martin R. Castro is the President of Castro Synergies, LLC, which provides strategic consulting services to corporations, entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations seeking to have a positive social impact on diverse communities. In January 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Castro to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR). In March 2011, President Obama appointed him Chairperson of the USCCR, making him the agency’s eighth Chair since the formation of the Commission, and the first Latino Chairperson in the history of the USCCR. He has been Chairman of the Illinois Human Rights Commission since 2009.

Maria C. Green, Esq.
Deputy General Counsel, Illinois Tool Works

Maria C. Green is Deputy General Counsel and Assistant Corporate Secretary at Illinois Tool Works (ITW) in Glenview, IL. ITW is a $16 billion diversified manufacturer with 68,000 employees in 54 countries. ITW is a publicly-held Fortune 200 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Prior to joining ITW, Green was general counsel of the Midwest division of Amtrak, a senior associate at the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld in Washington, DC, and in the legal department of Continental Illinois Bank and Trust Co.

She is a graduate of the Boston University Law School and the University of Pennsylvania, a member of the bar in New York, Illinois and the District of Columbia and has also been an adjunct professor at the John Marshall School of Law in Chicago.

James D. Montgomery, Esq., Partner
Cochran, Cherry, Givens, Smith & Montgomery

James D. Montgomery teamed up with the prestigious Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr., in March 2001 in the Chicago-based law firm of Cochran, Cherry, Givens, Smith & Montgomery. In 1999, The Illinois Academy of Lawyers inducted Montgomery as a “Laureate” in the Academy. As described in the bylaws of the Academy, a Laureate must “personify the greatness of the legal profession and help to establish and maintain its highest principles through a pervasive record of service to the law, the profession and to the public.”


Kimberly Y. Smith, M.D., Infectious Disease Specialist

Rush University Medical Ctr.

Kimberly Y. Smith, M.D. is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Section of Infectious Diseases at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. She also serves as an Attending Physician at Stroger (formerly Cook County) Hospital and the CORE Center in Chicago.  Dr. Smith is an active investigator and chairs several studies in the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) of the National Institute of Health (NIH) and was awarded the John T Carey Young Investigator Award of the ACTG in 2002. She currently serves as the chair of the Underrepresented Populations Committee of the ACTG. 



The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), named for the U.S. Supreme Court's first African-American Justice, was established in 1987. TMCF supports and represents nearly 300,000 students attending our 47-member schools, which include public Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) and Predominately Black Institutions (PBIs). TMCF’s work is critical to guaranteeing our country a robust and diverse pipeline of talented workers and future leaders. TMCF achieves its vision of Changing the World . . . One Leader at a Time by focusing on three areas: Scholarships, Capacity Building & Programmatic Support, and Public Policy & Advocacy.