AUWCL 3L Cat Walker Receives Peter M. Cicchino Award

April 22, 2021

Cat Walker
Cat Walker

American University Washington College of Law 3L Catherine “Cat” Walker has been named recipient of the 2021 Peter M. Cicchino Awards for Outstanding Advocacy in the Public Interest.

Cicchino was an AUWCL professor, scholar, and public interest lawyer. In January 2000, the AUWCL faculty voted unanimously – with Cicchino abstaining – to create an award in his name. The Peter M. Cicchino Awards are given annually to honor students and alumni whose devotion to, and creative service in, the public interest exemplify the highest ideals of AUWCL.

“It is an honor to be associated with Peter Cicchino,” Walker said. “I am incredibly inspired by Mr. Cicchino's work opposing harmful U.S. policies in Central America, fighting against police brutality, and advocating for the rights of the LGBTQ community. I aspire to carry his spirit in all that I do.”

Prior to attending law school, Walker served as the sole bilingual paralegal on Ayuda’s domestic violence/sexual assault team, where she helped prepare family law and immigration cases in various stages of litigation. She also represented Ayuda in the Rainbow Response Coalition, working to strengthen services and improve access for LGBTQ survivors of gender-based violence. Walker went on to serve for two years as a coordinator for the Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective’s Cuba Program, where she worked with grassroots activists to oppose harmful U.S. policies and corporate practices in Latin America and the Caribbean.

At AUWCL, Walker spent two years as a student attorney in the International Human Rights Law Clinic (IHRLC). In the IHRLC, she advocated against the death penalty before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and filed Federal Tort Claims Act complaints. During law school, Walker interned with the Legal Aid Justice Center and the Alexandria Public Defender’s Office. She was also selected to participate in AUWCL’s Kovler Project Against Torture to conduct research and draft memoranda on non-compliance by two states appearing before the United Nations Committee Against Torture.

Along with serving as a founding member of Outlaw and co-chair of the Equal Justice Foundation throughout 2019-2020, Walker is co-founder of the De-ICE campaign at AUWCL, coordinating efforts to keep the law school community safe from the potential threat posed by immigration enforcement agents’ presence on campus.

“Cat’s record of public service is breathtaking,” said Associate Professor Rebecca Hamilton, chair of this year’s Public Interest Faculty Committee, which selects the recipient. “Her commitment to representation for the most vulnerable populations was evident long before she started at WCL. But she has taken the lawyering skills she has gained here and harnessed them as a powerful tool in pursuing a more just world.”  

Walker was recognized as this year’s Cicchino Awards winner at AUWCL’s 2021 Legends & Leaders Award Ceremony – an annual celebration of alumni, faculty and student achievement – held virtually April 9.