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FAMU College of Law Recognizes Distinguished Alumni

Orlando, Fla. Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University’s (FAMU) College of Law paid tribute to its alumni May 14, 2016, recognizing 10 with Distinguished Alumni Awards and honoring 19 others for their distinctive service to the profession and/or the law school. The awards ceremony was held at the College of Law’s downtown Orlando campus. The 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients are:



Arthenia Joyner, a 1968 graduate, a Florida Senator representing Hillsborough County, and the Florida Senate Democratic Leader for 2014-2016, who was honored with the Legacy Award. A member of the last graduating class of the original law school in Tallahassee, Joyner was presented with the award that recognizes graduates whose lifelong works have left a lasting impression on the legal profession and their communities.



Carlos Woody, class of 2005 and deputy general counsel for Orlando Utilities Commission, who was bestowed the honor of Alumnus of the Year. Since 2006, Woody has taught several courses as an adjunct professor at his alma mater, including Florida Constitutional Law and Florida Bar Law and Skill and he co-wrote a textbook to help students learn the material. He is also a supporter of student and alumni programs, reviewing graduates’ essays as part of the Bar Prep program and providing financial support to Law Review and other student organization events. Woody also serves on the law school’s Board of Visitors, where he helps to recruit prospective students.




LaDray Gilbert, a graduate of the class of 2008 and managing attorney for the Gilbert Firm in Marianna, Florida, who was applauded for Extraordinary Service to FAMU College of Law. The current president of the FAMU College of Law Alumni Alliance is credited with increasing membership in the organization and helping to raise money to fund scholarships at the law school. He has been appointed to the Florida Bar Probate Rules Committee for 2016-2019 and as a Florida Bar Leadership Academy Fellow for 2016-2017.




Erik Washington, a 2009 graduate and the managing partner of the Washington Law Firm in Orlando, who was recognized for Professional Excellence for Solo Practice. Washington has distinguished himself as a bankruptcy practitioner committed to educating his clients on financial literacy. He was nominated in 2014 for the Jazz for Justice Attorney of the Year Award for his volunteer efforts with the Central Florida Bankruptcy Law Association and Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida.




Karen Skyers, a 2010 graduate and an attorney with the Government Law & Lobbying Practice Group of Becker & Poliakoff’s Tampa office, who was honored for Professional Excellence for Law Firm. A former legislative aide to Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner, Skyers was an associate attorney for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit and a government consultant for Southern Strategy Group, prior to joining Becker & Poliakoff. 




Raychelle Tasher, a 2013 graduate and a federal law clerk for the U. S. Bankruptcy Court in Eastern Missouri, was honored for Professional Excellence for Government. Tasher has received national recognition for being elected as the first African-American president of Ms. J.D., a non-profit network of more than 60,000 women law students and lawyers nationwide dedicated to the advancement of women in the legal profession.  




Sopi Mitil, a 2011 graduate and manager of Sourcing, Global Supply Chain Management at Verizon Communications in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, was honored for Professional Excellence for Corporate/Private. Mitil was recognized for blending her legal expertise with her accounting acumen to make her a valuable resource to the Legal and Regulatory Support Team at Verizon as well as for her contributions to the legal profession and the law school.




Ericka Garcia, a 2008 graduate and director of Pro Bono Partnerships for The Florida Bar Foundation, who was recognized for Extraordinary Public Service. The first person to serve in that newly-created position, Garcia travels the state to help attorneys, legal aid organizations, and other entities expand their pro bono services. She began her legal career with the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association and has dedicated her career to pro bono service.




Karen Rodriguez Ibarrondo, a 2012 graduate and president of The Law Office of Karen Rodriguez, P.A. in Clermont, was honored as an Extraordinary Young Alumnae, the award presented to graduates who have excelled with three to five years in practice. Specializing in criminal and family law, Rodriguez Ibarrondo was also recognized as a Top 40 under 40 by the National Trial Lawyers in 2014.





Tracy McDuffie, a 2014 graduate and associate with The Law Offices of Dan Newlin in Orlando, who was honored as a Rising Star in the field of law. Since graduating, McDuffie has quickly ascended to a position at one of the largest personal injury firms in Central Florida and has made an impact on his community through service and a commitment to the legal field, thus earning the award that recognizes high-achieving graduates with less than two years in practice.


Additional Honorees are:

Alumni/Alumnus of the Year

  • Audrey Chisholm – 2008
  • Shayan Modarres – 2011

Extraordinary Service to the College of Law

  • Yannick Brookes – 2012
  • Kamilah Jolly – 2007
  • Carlos Woody – 2005

Professional Excellence – Corporate/Private

  • Dorrissa Griffin – 2011
  • Nizam Razack – 2010

Professional Excellence – Government

  • Casinova Henderson – 2009
  • Wyntress Patterson – 2009

Professional Excellence-Law Firm

  • Scott Baker – 2005
  • Luis Gonzalez – 2008

Professional Excellence – Solo

  • Michael T. Gibson – 2006
  • Kimra Major-Morris – 2007
  • Shayan Modarres – 2012

Public Service

  • Marivette Gonzalez – 2008
  • Shayan Modarres – 2011
  • Tremaine Reese – 2012

Young Alumni

  • Haben Abraha – 2012
  • William Kilmer – 2013
  • Shayan Modarres – 2011
  • Mike Nichola – 2013

Rising Star

  • Cynthia Ramkellawan -2014
  • Kristine Tucker -2014

Special thanks to our 2016 Sponsors

Justice Sponsors

Nizam Razack, MD JD

Lynum & Associates, PLLC.

The Gibert Firm

Freedom Sponsors

Law Office of Adaryll Lee, PLLC.

Lyons & Associates

The Washington Firm

City of Orlando – District 5

Casinova Henderson & Associates

Becker & Poliakoff

Monts Law, P.L.

Jolly Esquire, PLLC.

100 Black Men

In Kind Sponsors

In Bloom Florist

FAMU College of Agriculture & Food Services