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2021 Government Pro Bono Award: Nichelle Johnson Billips

By Charles Coughlin

Nichelle Johnson Billips is an attorney-advisor in the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Office of the General Counsel (OGC). She is a leader among her colleagues and the government in service to the community.  For her inspiring service and dedication, Nichelle is the recipient of our 2021 Government Pro Bono Award.  

Nichelle has stood out as a leader who not only engages in pro bono work herself but also promotes pro bono work throughout USAID, helping ensure it remains a priority in the office.  Nichelle has led USAID OGC’s pro bono program for years.  She regularly leads groups of OGC volunteers at pro bono clinics, spearheads OGC running events to raise funds for important causes, and enlists others to do so as well.  Additionally, she regularly advises colleagues on pro bono opportunities to make sure they are aware of those activities. Her work helps to keep pro bono front-and-center as a priority for the office.   

Nichelle’s pro bono work has inspired her colleagues.  The Deputy General Counsel of USAID’s OGC said, “Nichelle’s consistent and sustained focus on pro bono activities reminds us all of the human face of what we as lawyers do and how the deployment of our skillset for the benefit of those needing legal assistance can have an important positive impact on those within our community.  Her ability to enlist and engage her colleagues over the years has had a profound impact upon me and many of my colleagues.”  Another colleague noted that Nichelle has “. . . proven integral to developing and sustain the office’s pro bono program, devoting significant time and energy to making attorneys informed of pro bono opportunities and resources and organizing brown bag discussions.”   

Nichelle finds every avenue she can to promote the goals and values intrinsic in pro bono work, such as by spearheading the formation of USAID OGC’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and serving as the Committee Chair.  One of the early goals of this Committee was to enhance OGC’s pro bono program; no doubt a result of Nichelle’s commitment to pro bono service. 

Nichelle’s work and leadership serves as an inspiration to us all for how to live our values as lawyers and members of the community.  In honor of this inspiration, we are excited to recognize Nichelle as the recipient of our 2021 Government Pro Bono Award.  

Please join us on Thursday, December 2, at 5:00 pm ET to congratulate Nichelle and the other 2021 award winners!

Charles Coughlin is a government attorney and a member of our Special Events & Fundraising Committee.  

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