“The WNBA and its players have been on the front lines of progress for women’s empowerment,” said WNBA President Lisa Borders. “We are thrilled to recognize Robbie, a legendary litigator, whose inspiring work and values embody what the WNBA is about.”
Roberta (“Robbie”) A. Kaplan, a world-class lawyer with an extensive background in corporate litigation, is well-known for her work on marriage equality. She successfully argued before the United States Supreme Court on behalf of her client Edith Windsor in a landmark case where the nation’s highest court ruled that a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violated the U.S. Constitution by barring legally married same-sex couples from enjoying the wide-ranging benefits of marriage conferred under federal law.
Kaplan also helped launch #TimesUp Legal Defense Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides legal representation to women who have experienced sexual violence, abuse or harassment.
“As a young girl who idolized Billie Jean King when she beat Bobby Riggs many years ago, I know what a crucial role women in professional sports have played in elevating and empowering women and girls throughout our society,” said Kaplan. “As a result, I’m so proud to be receiving this award since the WNBA (especially my home team, the New York Liberty) has made such a positive difference for so many women.”
The WNBA Inspiring Women Luncheon presented by ESPN, which will take place on Tuesday, September 25 in New York City, recognizes individuals who have blazed new paths on the court, in the boardroom and in the community. The luncheon, which is being presented by ESPN for the fourth consecutive year, will be hosted by ESPN’s basketball analyst LaChina Robinson, and with more than 300 people from the worlds of entertainment, sports, and business expected to attend.
In addition to the WNBA Inspiration Award, the luncheon will also present the Verizon Innovative Learning Award, which recognizes an inspirational teacher who leverages technological resources and hands-on opportunities to give kids the ability to do more in this world. This year’s honoree is Giovanna Allison, an instructional coach at McNair Middle School, a Verizon Innovative Learning School in Atlanta, Ga.
Verizon Innovative Learning provides free technology, free internet access, and hands-on learning experiences to help give underserved students the education they deserve. Powered by a next-gen, technology-infused curriculum that fundamentally changes the way teachers teach and students learn, Allison has played a vital role in cultivating a dynamic learning environment and integrating the use of technology into her school. She has created after-school and weekend technology sessions, as well as an Inclement Weather Day plan to ensure no instruction is lost due to weather.
The WNBA’s Gold Partners for the luncheon include Aquafina, Budweiser, Jack Daniel’s, Nike, SAP, State Farm, Under Armour, and Verizon.
At the league’s inaugural luncheon in 2006, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright addressed a group of the WNBA’s own inspiring women as the league honored and recognized the WNBA All-Decade Team. Other past honorees include former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts, political commentator Cokie Roberts, United States National Security Advisor and former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, award-winning journalist Katie Couric, the 2012 female Olympic medalists of Team USA, actress and UNICEF Ambassador Téa Leoni, veteran political strategist Donna Brazile, humanitarian Dr. Helene D. Gayle, 43rd Treasurer of the United States Rosie Rios and business executive and longtime champion of women’s issues, Andrea Jung.