The 2022 recipient of the Sonny Flowers Award, awarded by University of Colorado Law School, is Kathleen B. Nalty (’85).
The University of Colorado Law School will celebrate six distinguished alumni and friends at its 41st annual Alumni Awards Banquet on Thursday, March 10, 2022, at the Seawell Ballroom at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.
Colorado Law’s signature alumni event recognizes alumni and friends for their contributions to the legal profession, service to their communities, and dedication to the law school. Net proceeds from this year’s event benefit the Dean’s Fund for Excellence, which supports Colorado Law’s areas of strategic importance, and the Law Alumni Scholarship Fund, awarded annually to a student who has demonstrated academic achievement, financial need, and service to the law school community.
The Sonny Flowers Award recognizes alumni who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion among the law school and legal profession, specifically including the advancement of individuals from underrepresented groups.
About Kathleen B. Nalty (’85)
Kathleen Nalty has devoted her entire career to her passion for diversity, civil rights, social justice, and inclusion, earning 11 awards for her thought leadership and advocacy efforts.
After graduating from Colorado Law in 1985, Nalty clerked for U.S. District Court Judge John Kane. She was then selected to participate in the Attorney General’s Honors Program at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. As a federal civil rights prosecutor in the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, Nalty worked on cases involving hate crimes, police brutality, and slavery.
Upon returning to Colorado, Nalty co-founded the Hate Violence Task Force of the Colorado Lawyers’ Committee. She also worked for the University of Denver Sturm College of Law as a consultant in the Career Development Office, where she specialized in assisting employers and students with diversity programs and initiatives. In that role, she helped found the Rocky Mountain Legal Diversity Career Fair and the first annual Diversity Conference. Nalty also co-chaired the Colorado Bar Association’s Diversity Committee and helped establish the Deans’ Diversity Council.
In 2007, Nalty was selected as the founding director for the Center for Legal Inclusiveness and led the nonprofit’s ground-breaking efforts for over five years. In that role, she developed the only “how to” manual for legal organizations with a comprehensive step-by-step process for removing hidden barriers to retention and creating an inclusive workplace. In 2012, Nalty was selected to lead training sessions across the U.S. for the Minority Corporate Counsel Association as part of its new Academy for Diversity & Inclusion. From 2012-2018 Nalty served as an adjunct professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law where she taught a course on diversity and inclusion.
In 2013, Nalty established her own consulting company. She published a book entitled Going “All-In” on Diversity and Inclusion: The Law Firm Leader’s Playbook that includes new tools for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. In April 2017, Nalty was invited to give a TEDx talk – Diversity Makes You Smarter – at the University of Colorado. Nalty has taught tens of thousands of lawyers and legal staff about diversity, equity, and inclusion across the U.S. and Canada and mentored dozens of lawyers in their careers.
Nalty’s late husband, Craig Shaffer, whom she met at the USDOJ where he was a senior lawyer specializing in prosecuting the Ku Klux Klan, was her lifelong behind-the-scenes partner in her work. Their sons, Ryan and Nick Shaffer, helped as well – as volunteers with CLI and in assisting in her consulting business.