Kathleen Gebhardt is this year’s recipient of the Demetrio Rodriguez Champion of Education Justice Award presented at the annual Litigators’ Workshop sponsored by Education Law Center. The award is named for Demetrio Rodriguez, who advocated for educational opportunity throughout his life and was the plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court case, Rodriguez v. San Antonio, which eventually led to the filing of similar school finance cases in 46 of the 50 states.

The Litigators’ Workshop is the only event of its kind for lawyers representing students and school districts in school funding and other education cases. This year it is hosted by Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP in Los Angeles.

Ms. Gebhardt is receiving the award for her years-long work to ensure that all school-aged children in Colorado, regardless of their background or their home community, have the opportunity for an excellent education.

As Executive Director of Children’s Voices, a non-profit law firm, Ms. Gebhardt has been lead counsel or co-lead counsel in all of the school finance cases in Colorado over the past 20 years, fighting for better school facilities in Giardino v. State of Colorado, better opportunities in rural and urban school districts in Lobato v. State of Colorado, and constitutional compliance with a voter-adopted referendum in Dwyer v. State of Colorado.

Ms. Gebhardt also works closely with education advocacy and policy groups, and in a state where cutting taxes has been a high priority, her litigation skills and deep understanding of the issues have been critically important for Colorado children and families.

She is currently the president-elect of the Colorado Association of School Boards and vice president of the Boulder Valley School District Board of Education. She serves on numerous state and national boards, including the board of directors of the Colorado Lawyers Committee, BEST (Building Excellent Schools Today), the Rural School and Community Trust, and Great Education Colorado.

Ms. Gebhardt teaches law and education policy as an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado School of Law, the University of Colorado School of Education, and the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. She is also a Fellow at the National Education Policy Center (NEPC).

“To work with Kathy is to be constantly amazed by her passionate commitment to children and their educational opportunities,” said Kevin Welnar, NEPC Director and Professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder School of Education. “Students throughout Colorado and the nation have been blessed to have Kathy as their brilliant and tireless advocate.”

Ms. Gebhardt has received numerous awards for her advocacy, including most recently the policy maker award from the Center for Green Schools and Green Schools National Network 2018.

As David Hinojosa, National Director of Policy for the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) and former staff attorney at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), noted: “Kathy is a rare breed who brings heart, mind, body and soul to her work in pursuing equitable learning for all students. Her relentless work ethic and ability to capture the family element of the issues brought tremendous value and leadership in Lobato. You could not have asked for a better partner.”


Press Contact:

Sharon Krengel
Policy and Outreach Director
973-624-1815, x 24



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Press Contact:
Sharon Krengel
Director of Policy, Strategic Partnerships and Communications
973-624-1815, x240