Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley Honors Women in the Law at Third Annual Women Making a Difference Awards Ceremony


(Caption: Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley with Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, Orange County Superior Court Presiding Judge Maria Hernandez, Laguna Niguel Mayor Pro Tem Stephanie Oddo, Newport Beach City Councilwoman Robyn Grant, Huntington Beach City Councilwoman Natalie Moser, and the nominees and awardees of the Third Annual Women Making A Difference Awards.)

ORANGE COUNTY, CA – Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley hosted her third annual Women Making A Difference Awards on Saturday, March 30, 2024 at Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) in Costa Mesa with local elected leaders and members of the community. This year, Supervisor Foley honored women in the Orange County legal community who represent and/or advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion.

“Congratulations to the nominees and awardees of my Third Annual Women Making A Difference Awards! As a lawyer and law firm owner, and the only woman on our County Board of Supervisors comprised of five lawyers, I understand the unique role of women lawyers breaking into professions traditionally dominated by men,” said Supervisor Foley. “Each year, the Women Making A Difference Awards presents a wonderful opportunity for our community to gather in celebration of women trailblazers in their respective fields. I am honored to recognize the outstanding women leading in our legal profession who make Orange County a more just, equitable and overall better place to live, work, and play.” 

 In addition to recognizing the nominees and awardees, the awards ceremony featured remarks from Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, a color guard presentation from the Girl Scouts of Orange County Troops 3175 and 5388, a national anthem performance from local District 5 resident Sabrina Rose, and in recognition of Irish Heritage Month and Supervisor Foley’s heritage, a dance performance from Aniar Irish Dance AcademyMembers of the media may access photos and videos here

Supervisor Foley recognized women making a difference in the following legal professions: 

Legal Staff Support, Gracie Doran (Irvine) 

At 10 years old, a massive stroke altered the course of her life, so Gracie Doran dedicated her life to helping those with disabilities like her own – both in her advocacy work for stroke research and co-founder of the Dance Discovery Group, and in her professional life as a paralegal. Most recently, she obtained her dream job as a paralegal for Disability Rights California, a nonprofit devoted to serving the disabled population of California. 

Non-Profit, Jane Fulton (Laguna Beach) 

Jane Fulton created a low-income law center in Laguna Beach in 2014 called "Seaside Legal Services,” a California nonprofit organization that provides attorneys and other legal services in civil matters for the low-income residents of south Orange County. She also holds a pro-bono legal clinic at the Susi Q senior center, acting on her passion for helping the senior population in our community. 

Mediator, Michelle Reinglass (Laguna Beach) 

Michelle Reinglass embodies the phrase “women supporting women” with the bulk of her cases as an employment lawyer dealing with discrimination and harassment. Ms. Reinglass now serves as a mediator with Judicate West. As only the second woman President of the OC Bar Association, Ms. Reinglass created a Gender Equality Committee. Outside of her professional life, she is known for throwing Women Empowerment Dinners for fellow women in the legal community and her decades-long efforts at WISEPlace Women’s Shelter, which offers homeless women opportunities for a fresh start.

Judge, The Honorable Presiding Judge Maria Hernandez 

Presiding Judge of the Superior Court of Orange County Maria Hernandez was elected in January 2023 after previously serving as assistant presiding judge. Prior to serving on the bench, she served as a court commissioner. Despite representing more than 50% of law school graduates, women comprise only 34% of judges on the Orange County bench and 53% of court commissioners. She also worked as a senior deputy public defender in Orange County. 

In her time with the juvenile court, Judge Hernandez also created and presided over the dedicated court addressing commercially sexually exploited children, and co-chaired the Orange County Committee relating to boys in the child welfare system. She recently launched a Young Adult Court, which addresses the special needs of emerging adults charged with felonies in the criminal justice system. Throughout her career, Judge Hernandez empowers victims and supports our most vulnerable children. Her work demonstrates the power of the legal system to change lives and create social change.   

Government Attorney, Nicole Walsh (San Clemente) 

Nicole Walsh is a lead land use and CEQA attorney for the County Counsel department at the County of Orange, where she serves as an expert on eminent domain matters and the Prado Dam Mainstem Project. Ms. Walsh is also lead attorney on Planning, Development Services, Neighborhood Preservation Services (Code Enforcement) and the County’s Housing Element. 

Public Defender, Amber Poston (San Clemente) 

Amber Poston serves as an Orange County Public Defender and plays an active role as a Board Member for the Orange County Attorneys Association, representing public defenders and district attorneys. Last year she successfully advocated for increased pay and benefits that predominantly impacted working moms, including professional development and student loan reimbursement. She also serves as a board member for the Orange County Women Lawyers Association, and her pivotal position as one of the founders of the Orange County Unity Bar underscores her dedication to fostering diversity and inclusivity within the legal profession. At the core of her mission is the assurance that every qualified individual is provided with access to justice, a fair trial, and opportunities to pursue judicial positions, guaranteeing equal access for all.

District Attorney, Tina Hanley (Costa Mesa) 

In her work as OCDA Deputy District Attorney, Tina Hanley advocates for domestic violence in the Family Protection Unit and works with OCDA's gang reduction program (GRIP). In her community, she opens doors for future legal professionals. She coaches High School Mock Trial teams, promotes justice and advancing the interests of prosecutors of Asian and Pacific Islander (API) heritage as a member of the Iranian American Bar association, a committee member of the Orange County Asian American Bar association and the Orange County Women Lawyers association.   

Civil Rights Lawyer, Annee Della Donna (Laguna Beach) 

Annee Della Donna heads the Orange County Innocence Project and fights to free wrongfully incarcerated minorities. She teaches UCI Law students to do the same. Her dedication to freeing the innocent, preventing wrongful convictions and creating fair, compassionate and equitable systems of justice for everyone is a shining example of women making a difference. 

Criminal Lawyer, Jessica Munk (Costa Mesa) 

In her career as a criminal lawyer and President of the Orange County Women Lawyers Association Foundation, Jessica Munk is a force for the advancement of women in the legal industry. As immediate past president of OCWLA, she ensured that programming included special networking training for women, and her active support of OCWLA’s philanthropy efforts provides those marginalized communities with crucial access to justice.

Ms. Munk stands as an exceptional attorney, with a wealth of expertise acquired through her distinguished practice in both federal and state courts, where she specializes in white-collar criminal defense and intricate civil litigation. Ms. Munk generously contributes her skills to the CJA Criminal Trial Panel in the Central District of California, offering steadfast defense for indigent individuals. 

Appellate – Mary-Christine (M.C.) Sungaila (Newport Beach) 

As a highly regarded appellate attorney, M.C. Sungaila heads the Orange County office of the prominent boutique law firm Complex Appellate Litigation Group. She has briefed and argued more than 170 appeals, including the sober living home appeal defending the City of Costa Mesa on March 29, 2024, and several appeals before the United States Supreme Court, multiple state supreme courts, numerous federal and state appellate courts, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.   

Over the course of Ms. Sungaila’s career, she has taken on nearly 100 pro bono cases, many of which helped set precedents in the United States Supreme Court and international courts. This work focuses on advocating for the rights of individuals who experience violence as a result of their gender or sexual orientation, including at only 29 years old arguing before the United States Supreme Court to reinstate a criminal civil rights verdict against a state court judge who raped, sexually assaulted and abused women court employees and litigants.  

Ms. Sungaila’s advocacy for marginalized groups within the legal system has helped to shape underdeveloped areas of constitutional, immigration and human rights law, leading to her recognition by the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association, Equality Trailblazer for National Law Journal, and Ellis Island Medal of Honor amongst other prominent awards.

In addition, Ms. Sungaila created The Portia Project, a podcast which serves as a platform to spotlight women’s issues in the legal industry. Ms. Sungaila continues to champion driving forces such as equity, diversity, and inclusion through their involvement in families, civic and community groups, businesses, and legislative bodies. Ms. Sungaila works to reevaluate the status quo and address harmful social policies, stereotypes and behaviors that shape our future. 

Organization of the Year, Orange County Women Lawyers Association 

The Orange County Women Lawyers (OCWLA) started in 1975, with five members, as the Women and Individual Rights section of the Orange County Bar Association.   

In the fall of 1973, a group of attorneys met for lunch to discuss the formation of the section. The original goal was to focus on the rights not only of women but also of all individual groups that may have experienced discrimination in our society or before the law. At the time, there were no women jurists sitting on the bench in Orange County.   

In 1979, Orange County Women Lawyers Association became an affiliate organization of the Orange County Bar Association. Its founding members wanted to stay true to the group’s original goals – the advancement of women in the legal profession and the support of diversity both on the bench and in law firm partnerships.  

Today, with more than 500 members, OCWLA advances women in the legal profession by providing a professional network, raising awareness of discrimination and bias, and supporting charitable organizations. OCWLA has grown to fulfill not just the educational and marketing needs of its members, but also the needs of the community at large. 

Congratulations to all the following nominees:

  • Jacqueline Beaumont, Newport Beach 
  • Caroline Djang, Irvine 
  • Annee Della Donna, Laguna Beach 
  • Grace Doran, Irvine 
  • Sayuri Espinosa, Irvine 
  • Janice Fay, Irvine 
  • Jane Fulton, Laguna Beach 
  • Kelly Galligan, Irvine 
  • Robyn Grant, Newport Beach 
  • Tina Hanley, Costa Mesa 
  • The Honorable Presiding Judge Maria Hernandez 
  • Tracy Hughes, Newport Beach 
  • Cynthia Inda, Irvine 
  • Carolyn Khouzam, Irvine 
  • Laura Knapp, San Clemente 
  • Lauren Kramer, Newport Beach 
  • Lauren McKay, Irvine 
  • The Honorable Superior Court Judge Kimberly Menninger 
  • Stephanie Morris, Dana Point 
  • Jessica Munk, Costa Mesa 
  • Isabel Nava, Costa Mesa 
  • Jennifer Nelson, Irvine 
  • Courtney Orliss, Aliso Viejo 
  • Camden Polischuk, Ladera Ranch 
  • Amber Poston, San Clemente 
  • Emily Quinlan, Laguna Niguel 
  • Laurie Rowen, Laguna Woods 
  • Diane Rifkin, Laguna Niguel 
  • Michelle Reinglass, Laguna Beach 
  • Nicole Sims, San Clemente 
  • Jillian Stewart, San Juan Capistrano 
  • Mary-Christine Sungaila, Newport Beach 
  • Maria Tapia, Irvine 
  • Mei Tsang, Irvine 
  • Ellie Vilendrer, Irvine 
  • Nicole Walsh, San Clemente 
  • Ava Zeinali, Rancho Mission Viejo 


Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2022 to represent the newly established District 5, which includes the cities of Aliso Viejo, Costa Mesa, Dana Point, a large portion of Irvine, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Newport Beach, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, as well as the unincorporated areas of Coto de Caza, Emerald Bay, Ladera Ranch, Las Flores, Rancho Mission Viejo, Stonecliffe and Wagon Wheel. This is her second term on the Board of Supervisors, where she previously served District 2. 

Supervisor Foley’s Board appointments include the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA), Chair – OCFA Legislation & Public Affairs Committee, Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), Vice Chair – OCTA Legislative and Communications Committee, Los Angeles – San Diego – San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) Rail Corridor Agency, Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA), TCA Joint Capital Improvements and Projects Committee, Coastal Greenbelt Authority, Newport Bay and South Orange County Watershed Executive Committees, Ocean Institute, San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) Community Engagement Panel, Co-Chair – Spent Fuel Solutions Coalition, Chair – Orange County Housing Finance Trust, and the Orange County Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council