Celeste Stokes awarded 2023 WDTL Community Leadership Award

Celeste Stokes is the recipient of this year’s Community Leadership Award.  My name is Gauri Locker, and I’m the WDTL Community Service Committee Chair.  Celeste is my friend, mentor, and coworker, and I was proud to nominate her for this award. 

Celeste is currently out of the country so her daughters Samantha and Sydney are here to accept the award on her behalf. 

She is a true leader in our community, and has been very active on the WDTL Community Service Committee over the years, maintaining near-perfect attendance at both meetings and community service events sponsored by WDTL. 

Her involvement in the community over the course of her career as a trial lawyer has had an enormous and lasting impact, benefiting both the community as a whole and the entire legal profession. 

She is very involved with both Lawyers Helping Hungry Children and the Emergency Feeding Program in Seattle.  You might know her as one of the “bag ladies” who decorate the thousands of bags that are filled daily with sack lunches for unhoused and food-insecure youth in the area. 

She has taken on pro bono SGAL work. 

She served on a community board for diversions for juveniles for a decade. 

She’s dedicated nearly half of her career to work in the public sector: as an Assistant Attorney General, as a prosecutor, and as a judicial clerk. 

She’s participated in fundraisers for various local charity groups, particularly those committed to pro bono and public service. 

She served on the WDTL board as a trustee for 3 years, and served as a past chair of the Legislative Committee. 

She’s helped to plan and participate in numerous WDTL events over the years, including:

  • service with Operation Sack Lunch, Union Gospel Mission, and Birthday Dreams
  • coat drives, book drives, backpack drives, toiletry drives, gift card drives, and
  • volunteering with the Tri-Cities Youth and Justice Forum. 

She mentors and has mentored many law students and young lawyers in the community. 

And finally, she is also the current president of the Washington Courts Historical Society.   

In covering for her on a case, one of our co-defense attorneys once referred to her as a “lawyer’s lawyer.”  High praise, right?  But when you think about it, she is the true embodiment of professionalism and grace; she treats everyone – from pro se to polished litigator to judges– with respect, empathy and kindness.  She has earned the respect of some of our most difficult opposing counsel, which is no small feat.     

She is more than a lawyer’s lawyer.  She is everything we all should aspire to be as attorneys and as people, and I am truly honored to present her with this award.