Bar Foundation honors former NHCLU director Claire Ebel
Ebel is the recently retired executive director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union
Claire Ebel, the recently retired executive director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, was honored May 14 with the New Hampshire Bar Foundation’s Frank Rowe Kenison Award, which recognizes contributions to the justice system and improvement to residents’ lives.
The Kenison award, along with the presentation of Robert E. Kirby Award to a young lawyer of distinction, and a special recognition of Nina Gardner, who recently retired as executive director of the New Hampshire Judicial Council, was held at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord.
Ebel, who worked 30 years at the helm of the NHCLU, has devoted much of her life to passionately fighting against abuses of power and attempts to restrict the rights of New Hampshire citizens.
Ebel, who was lauded for her knowledge, effectiveness and distinct style, said she was humbled to receive an award named for Kenison, who served as chief justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court from 1952 to 1977.
“I really do feel unworthy of this award,” she said. “To be given an award named for Justice Kenison – that’s extraordinary.”
Dan Feltes, staff attorney at New Hampshire Legal Assistance since 2006, received the Robert E. Kirby Award, which is presented to an attorney 35 years old or younger and recognizes excellent advocacy, civility, professionalism and good humor.
Feltes, 34, has appeared twice before at the New Hampshire Supreme Court in difficult cases involving local welfare programs and was successful in persuading the court to issue opinions that created new precedent. He also has advocated for low-income and elderly consumers at the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission.
The other honoree, Nina Gardner, retired after 24 years as executive director of the New Hampshire Judicial Council, a small but influential executive branch agency that oversees indigent defense programs and provides information about the state's courts and justice system to all branches of state government. She has worked, in various capacities, in state government since 1972.