December 06, 2021

2021 Environmental Law Distinguished Graduates

Each year the Environmental, Natural Resources, and Energy Law department honors outstanding alumni whose achievements make a positive mark on their profession and contributions to the legal profession.

We are proud to announce the honored alumni in 2021 are JDs Kevin Minoli ’00, Mac Lacy ’01, Maura Sullivan ’07, & Thane Tienson ’77 (in memoriam), and LLM Dr. Melissa Lewis, ’08. As well as Congressman Earl Blumenauer ’76 with the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award.


Kevin Minoli (’00 JD) is a Partner at Alston & Bird in Washington D.C, leading the Environment, Land Use & Natural Resources Group. After graduating from Lewis & Clark Law School in 2000, Kevin spent 18 years with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), most recently serving as acting general counsel and principal deputy general counsel—the highest-ranking career attorney position in the EPA. In this role, Kevin served as legal counsel on the EPA’s programs nationwide. Kevin also worked extensively with the EPA’s regional offices and spent several years as the EPA lead on congressional oversight matters, including preparing senior agency officials for hearings and other engagements with congressional committees. Kevin’s responsibilities at the EPA extended to working with a number of other agencies, including the Department of Justice, Department of the Interior, Army Corps of Engineers, and Department of Agriculture.


Mac Lacey (’01 JD) is the Senior Attorney at Oregon Natural Desert Association and has been with the organization for over 20 years. His cases focus on wilderness, grazing, travel planning, imperiled species, and energy development issues on eastern Oregon’s public lands and he handles ONDA’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation. Mac is regularly invited to speak on environmental law and public interest litigation issues. He has won awards for articles he’s written on water pollution and the Clean Water Act; a comprehensive public lands soil protection law; and water, the Endangered Species Act and the threatened and endangered fish species.


Maura Sullivan (’07 JD) is the Deputy Section Chief of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s General Counsel Office International Section. Previously she served as Chief of the Alaska Section of NOAA’s General Counsel Office from 2017 to 2019, and she was an attorney-advisor in the Alaska Section from 2009 to 2017. In her capacity as Chief of the Alaska Section, Maura supervised and contributed to the Alaska Section’s work on legal issues arising under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Northern Pacific Halibut Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Fur Seal Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and other statutes applicable to federal agencies. Maura provided legal advice to the National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska Region, and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. In 2018, Maura served on the United States Delegation to the 4th Meeting of the North Pacific Fisheries Commission in Tokyo, Japan.


Thane Tienson (’77 JD) (in memoriam) was a Partner at Landye, Bennett, and Blumstein LLP in Portland, OR since 1990. He had previously practiced with an insurance defense firm and for six years as a Washington state lawyer in Vancouver. Thane also had represented client involved in the fishing industry and environmental matters such as clean water advocates. Thane continued his trial practice with the firm representing clients pursuing personal injury and death claims; individuals and organizations making environmental claims; plaintiffs and defendants in business and labor disputes; Native Americans in tribal recognition claims; and Native and non-Native clients on issues related to clean water and fishery issues. Much of the latter was done pro bono. Before embarking on his pursuit of a legal degree, he served in the U.S. Army and was deployed to Vietnam where he served with distinction and received two Purple Hearts for his injuries in battle.


Dr. Melissa Lewis (’08 LLM) is the Policy and Advocacy Manager at BirdLife South Africa. Melissa is responsible for spearheading BirdLife South Africa’s policy and advocacy work. Her responsibilities include working to integrate conservation objectives into environmental laws and policies; supporting government in respect of its national and international conservation obligations; and engaging in reactive advocacy work to address the environmental challenges facing BirdLife South Africa’s conservation programmes. She also supports the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in the provision of policy and advocacy support to BirdLife partners across Africa, with a particular focus on the East Atlantic Flyway. Before joining BirdLife South Africa, she was an experienced litigator working in Africa and Europe, especially on multi-lateral environmental agreements and, in particular, the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA). Melissa has also worked with the RSPB, BirdLife International and the South African Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries.


Congressman Earl Blumenauer (’76 JD) has served as the U.S. Representative for Oregon’s 3rd congressional district since 1996. While still a college student at Lewis & Clark College, he led the campaign in Oregon to lower the voting age. He was a key player just two years later as one of the youngest legislators in Oregon’s history in a landmark session for school funding, ethics reform and Oregon’s groundbreaking land use laws. As a Multnomah County Commissioner and member of the Portland City Council, Earl’s innovative accomplishments in transportation with light rail, bicycles and the street car, planning and environmental programs and public participation helped Portland earn an international reputation as one of America’s most livable cities.

Elected to the US House of Representatives in 1996, Earl has been a tireless advocate for the 3rd Congressional District. He’s recognized for his creative, innovative policies and accomplishments, and also his political leadership in Oregon and nationwide. He tackles controversial issues and finds ways to break ideological and partisan gridlock with a unique approach to problem solving that brings people together. He is currently a member of the Ways and Means Committee, Chairman of the subcommittee on Trade and a member of the subcommittee on Health. These assignments give Earl a unique platform to promote critical issues like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. Earl has been a champion for rebuilding and renewing our nation’s infrastructure, economic security for families, protection of public lands, stopping gun violence, ending the prohibition of marijuana, and criminal justice reform.