Columbus School of Law Distinguished Alumni Class Awards

Each year during reunion weekend, we celebrate and recognize the CUA Columbus Law School's most distinguished alumni by giving them a Distinguished Alumni Award at a ceremony that begins reunion weekend. We are excited to announce the Distinguished Alumni Award recipients for the 2018 Reunion. 
Below are the names of the recipients and the name of their distinguished alumni award. Please join Dean Jefferson and alumni at the "KickOff" reception on Friday, October 19, 2018 at The Occidental Grill located at 1475 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. and congratulations to all who have been awarded this year!



                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Ralph Rohner served as professor of law and former dean at the Columbus School of Law of The Catholic University of America (CUA), Washington, D.C., where he holds the James Whiteford Chair of Common Law. He has taught commercial and consumer law courses at CUA since 1964, and was dean from January 1987 through August 1995. During his tenure as dean, he oversaw the design and construction of the new law school building.

In 1975-76 he served as staff counsel to the Consumer Affairs Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee. He has been a consultant to the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and various consumer banking trade associations and institutions, including more than twenty-five years as Special Counsel to the Consumer Bankers Association, Rosslyn, Virginia. From 1979 through 1981 he served as a member of the Federal Reserve Board's Consumer Advisory Council, and in 1981 he chaired that Council.

A co-author of a law school casebook on consumer law, and editor/co-author of a treatise on Truth-in-Lending law, he has written and lectured extensively on the federal and state consumer credit laws. He is a member of the American Law Institute, of the American Bar Association Business Law Section and its Committees on the Uniform Commercial Code and on Consumer Financial Services, and is a founding member and past president of the American College of Consumer Financial Services Lawyers.

Professor Rohner earned both his B.A. (1960) and J.D. (1963) degrees from The Catholic University of America.

Image result for Rafal KosMr. Rafal Kos is the managing partner of Kubas Kos Galkowski, one of Poland’s most prominent law firms. He has extensive experience in conducting cross border litigations and group proceedings. He is the Vice-President of the Confederation Lewiatan Arbitration Court in Warsaw.

He was a member of the following: the Parliamentary Justice and Human Rights Committee on Class Actions (2009); the Minister of Justice Team for the Amendment of the Bankruptcy and Restructuring Law (2012); the Ministerof Economy’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Expert Team (2013); and is currently a member of the Business Law Task Force at the Ministry of Economic Development (2015).
He has been recommended as a leading expert on arbitration in Who’s Who Legal, as well as  on dispute resolution in Chambers and Partners and in the most prestigious Polish ranking of law firms conducted by the Rzeczpospolita daily. He is a member of the Arbitration Committee of The Polish Bar Council and The Board of Visitors of the Columbus School of Law (CUA, Washington D.C.).

Kathleen Abernathy Ms. Abernathy returned to Wilkinson Barker Knauer bringing years of top-level government and corporate experience. Shewas elected to the Board of Directors of Frontier Communications as an independent director in 2006 following her term as a Commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission from 2001 to 2005. In 2010 she joined the company as Chief Legal Officer and Executive Vice President, Regulatory and Governmental Affairs.

She was on the leadership team that oversaw a number of strategic acquisitions that eventually grew Frontier to a Fortune 250 company. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of ISO New England, serving in that capacity since 2012. Prior to her term as an FCC Commissioner, Ms. Abernathy worked for a number of different telecommunications companies and law firms.

She has received numerous awards in recognition of her professional accomplishments and has taught as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center and Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law.

Ellen “Nell” Hennessy ’78 was a recognized expert on the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and a tireless champion for the rights of plan participants and pension
plans. An Executive Director at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) referred to Nell as the "Michael Jordan of ERISA"  She was a model and mentor to many in the field of employee benefits and worked to educate both lawyers and other benefits professionals on the intricacies of employee benefits law and practice. Nell had an open door policy when it came to sharing her wealth of expertise with others, whether it was her employees, colleagues, recent graduates, or anyone with a question.

On February 4, 2011 after a brave battle with cancer, Nell passed away. She began her legal
career as an attorney in two of the three federal agencies that regulate employee benefits, first in the Office of the Chief Counsel at the Internal Revenue Service (1978-80) and then at the PBGC (1980-81). She later served as Deputy Executive Director and Chief Negotiator of the  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), the federal agency that guarantees privatedefined benefit pensions. She represented PBGC in negotiations with major corporate pension plan sponsors and unions in a wide range of industries, including auto, steel, chemical, textile and airlines. Working closely with the Department of Labor, she negotiated an agreement with General Motors that permitted GM to contribute employer stock to its hourly plan – the largest such transaction in U.S. history — forming the basis for a ground-breaking prohibited transaction exemption that allowed GM to subsequently spin off its EDS subsidiary. She negotiated the restructuring of TWA’s debt to PBGC and Carl Ichan, which allowed TWA to successfully reorganize. The Early Warning Program she headed at PBGC was awarded one of the first federal Innovations in American Government Awards by the Ford Foundation and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. 

Since 1985 Nell has served as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center, where she helped develop the graduate certificate program in employee benefits. She was a founding Board member of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel and she was a founding member and past President of the Worldwide Employee Benefits Network (WEB). Nell is also a member of the National Bankruptcy Conference, a non-partisan, organization of approximately 60 lawyers, law professors and bankruptcy judges who advise Congress on bankruptcy law.

Mark Holden serves as senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Koch Industries, Inc. He is also president and COO of the Legal Division of Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC, which provides legal, government and public affairs services to Koch Industries, Inc. and its affiliates. In addition, he also serves as Chairman of the Board of Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, Inc. as well as Chairman of the Board of Americans for Prosperity Foundation.

Mr. Holden began his career with Koch Industries in 1995 as a litigation attorney, and was vice president and general counsel for litigation and compliance. He has worked with the various Koch companies on a variety of litigation, regulatory, compliance, and commercial issues.

Before joining Koch, Mr. Holden was an associate with Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Holden earned a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Massachusetts. He earned his law degree from the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America, where he was an associate editor of the Catholic University Law Review.

Based in Wichita, Kan., Koch Industries, Inc. is one of the largest private companies in America with estimated annual revenues as high as $115 billion, according to Forbes. It owns a diverse group of companies involved in refining, chemicals, grain processing and biofuels; forest and consumer products; fertilizers; polymers and fibers; process and pollution control equipment and technologies; electronic components; commodity trading; minerals; energy; ranching; glass; and investments. Since 2003, Koch companies have invested more than $70 billion in acquisitions and other capital expenditures. With a presence in about 60 countries, Koch companies employ more than 100,000 people worldwide, with about 60,000 of those in the United States. From January 2009 to present, Koch companies have earned more than 930 awards for safety, environmental excellence, community stewardship, innovation, and customer service.



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