Sue Shelton White Award Winners

2019 Sue Shelton White Award. Jocelyn Dan Wurzburg 

Title: Solo Mediation Practitioner. Memphis’ First Professional MediJocie1portrait-HRator. Lives in: Memphis. Education: Graduate of Rhodes College ’62 in Sociology and Anthropology.  University of Memphis Law School ’79.

Among many contributions to West Tennessee: A fifth generation Memphian, married with three children, Wurzburg thought her life was set – until the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King shattered her beliefs. That transformative event raised her consciousness to racism. She founded the local Panel of American Women that year to address prejudice. She started the Concerned Women of Memphis and Shelby County, credited with averting a second sanitation workers’ strike a year after Dr. King’s death. Wurzburg jumped into civil rights, women’s rights, and social justice activities serving on the Social Action Commission of Reform Judaism. President Gerald Ford appointed her to the International Women’s Year Commission. Serving Gov. Winfield Dunn on the Tennessee Human Rights Commission, she wrote Tennessee’s first anti-discrimination law in employment, public accommodations, and housing. She pursued mediation as a saner divorce process, becoming Memphis’ first professional mediator. She founded the Mediation Association of Tennessee. She helped start the Association for Women Attorneys and chaired the Family Law and the ADR sections of the Memphis Bar Association.

Awards, Community Leadership: Feeling music brings people together, she founded the Jazz Society of Memphis. Awards, 2005 forward: Tennessee Human Rights Commission, Gov. Phil Bredesen, 2005; Outstanding Contributions to West Tennessee, University of Tennessee at Martin, 2006; Legend Award, Women’s Foundation of Greater Memphis, 2010; Martin Luther King Legacy Award, Mayor A.C. Wharton, 2013; Tennessee Human Rights Advocacy Award, 2010; Rhodes College Distinguished Alumnae Award; Grayfred Gray Mediation Award; Jocelyn Dan Wurzburg Civil Rights Legacy Award, Tennessee Human Rights Commission, 2013; Tennessee Women Hall of Fame, Tennessee Economic Council for Women, 2014; The City of Memphis Heritage Trailblazer Award, 2016;  The Tennessee Tribune Person of the Year 2016; N.A.A.C.P. Service Award, 2017; Planned Parenthood Judy Scharff Lifetime of Achievement Award for the Panel of American Women, 2017; Frances Wright Legend Award. New Sardis Baptist Church, 2018; Association for Women Attorneys: Marion Griffin-Frances Loring Award for   Outstanding Achievement in the Legal Profession, 2019; MLK Luminary Awards 2019, presented by Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

Did You Know? Once I stayed at an ancient Etruscan farmhouse in Montevarchi owned by a lady I met on a train a few days earlier. Bobby and I entertained with our banjos.  I have a son and two daughters, three grandchildren, and one honey.

2018 Sue Shelton White Award. Mary Jo Middlebrooks

SueSheltonWhitepic-MJ-LRTitle:  Attorney-at-Law; Certified Family Law Specialist; Rule 31 Mediator; Federal Mediator; Commissioner to the Access to Justice Commission for Tennessee.  Lives in:  Jackson. Education:  B.S.E., University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; Doctor of Jurisprudence, Vanderbilt University School of Law

Among many contributions to West Tennessee:  1978, opened law firm as a sole practitioner; first female trial attorney in Jackson.  One of only 11 Tennessee lawyers  recognized by the National Board of Trial Advocacy as a Family Law Specialist.  In 1978, she was one of three organizers for West Tennessee Legal Services, Inc. to provide a voice for the indigent in 17 counties and has served on the Board of Directors for 38 years.  Rule 31 Listed Mediator in General Civil/Family Mediation, “Specially Trained in Domestic Violence Issues.”  Former attorney coach for the Jackson-Central Merry High School Mock Trial Team, which won the state competition in 1989.  In 2017 was appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court as a Commissioner to the Access to Justice Commission.

Awards, Community Leadership:  She has been a tireless mentor for two generations of young female attorneys.  She has lobbied for women’s issues for 40 years, including the Equal Rights Amendment, Equal Pay, reproductive freedom and equality for all.  She is a fearless and vocal advocate for civil rights.  She attends and lobbies for women’s issues and civil rights at the state legislature.  She has marched in Washington, D.C. and in Nashville in support of women’s and family issues.  Charter Member, Tennessee Lawyers’ Association for Women;  Charter Member, Lawyers’ Association for Women, Anne Harris Schneider Chapter;  Past President and member of Jackson Area Business and Professional Women; Past President, Jackson-Madison County Bar Association;  2007 Woman of Achievement awarded by Jackson Area Business & Professional Women; 2008 Tennessee Bar Foundation Fellow;  Master of the Bench, Howell Edmunds Jackson American Inn of Court; 2008 Pro Bono Award by the Legal Services Corporation for extraordinary commitment to providing equal access to justice; honored by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee by Senate Joint Resolution No. 619 for meritorious service to the State of Tennessee (January 28, 2008);  2010 Sterling Award;  2011 Second Century Award by the Jackson-Madison County NAACP; 2011 WRAP Women of Empowerment Award.

Did You Know?  Mary Jo loves whitewater rafting on the upper and lower Ocoee River, and French Bulldogs.

2017 Sue Shelton White Award. Beth Stricklin Bates

Bates_Bethphoto-2017Title: Managing Attorney, Benefits Unit West Tennessee Legal Services, Inc. Lives in: Jackson. Education: B.S. Political Science and Social Studies, Mississippi University for Women; J.D. University of Tennessee.

Among many contributions to West Tennessee:  Bates testified before the Social Security Subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee of the United States House of Representatives on November 19, 2009 on behalf of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities.  The subject of the testimony was the need for increased funding for the Social Security Offices of Disability Adjudication and Review. Since then, she has joined with other public service attorneys who advocate for improved service from the agency with then-Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin and two Tennessee Disability Determination directors.  She writes a monthly column on Social Security issues for The Jackson Sun.  She is a Board Certified Social Security Disability specialist and has represented approximately 2000 citizens before the agency during her 33 years as an attorney.

Awards, Community Leadership:  Bates was a co-recipient of the B. Riney Green Award for collaborative statewide advocacy by the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services in 2011.  She is a fellow of the Tennessee Bar Foundation and a master member of the Howell Edmunds Jackson Inns of Court. She has served four terms as president of the Jackson Area Business and Professional Women and is serving her second term as president of BPW/TN.  She was chosen Regent of the Jackson-Madison Chapter of NSDAR for 2016-2019. She is passionate about empowering women and has lobbied for pay equity as well as working on the Tennessee Lawyers’ Association for Women’s 2016 Empowerment conference as president.  She also hopes to empower her young adult daughter, Virginia.

Did you know? Following a family tradition, Bates likes to enter crafts in the West Tennessee State Fair.