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Hall Foundation announces Attorney Shontrai D. Irving and Dr. Valerie Mccray as Co-2024 Chairman Award Recipients

Attorney Shontrai D. Irving and Dr. Valerie McCray

The Katie Hall Educational Foundation, Inc. has announced the selection of Attorney Shontrai D. Irving, the current and 39th President of the Lake County, Indiana Bar Association and Dr. Valerie McCray, the first African-American- male or female to qualify for a United States Senate election in the State of Indiana as the 2024 Chairman Award Recipients. 

Dr. McCray will appear on the Tuesday, May 7th ballot.

Shontrai DeVaughn Irving is a Clinical Associate Professor in the College of Business at Purdue University Northwest and a practicing attorney in Indiana and Illinois. He received his undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice and Afro-American Studies at Indiana University with Distinction, as well as his law degree and master’s degree in Criminal Justice. He also earned his MBA from Purdue University Northwest. 

His career path includes notable roles such as a former Deputy Prosecutor in Lake County, Indiana, and a corporate attorney for State Farm Litigation Counsel. Presently, he serves as a public defender in the Lake County Juvenile Court and works as a Staff Attorney with NWI Volunteer Lawyers. Irving is a former Deputy Prosecutor in Lake County, Indiana and was previously selected as a Governor’s Fellow by Governor Frank O’Bannon. He spent nearly a decade as a corporate attorney for State Farm Litigation Counsel.  

Within the bar, Irving has served in various leadership roles and actively advocates for justice, equality, and inclusion. He has served as Counsel to the President of the Indiana State Bar Association; and is a Past-President of the Kimbrough Bar Association. He currently serves as the President of the Lake County Bar Association and Chair of the Outreach Committee. He previously had a Presidential Appointment to the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Specialization and served as Chair.  From 2012 to 2021, he was an Indiana Supreme Court Appointee to the Commission on Continuing Legal Education and served as Chair in 2020 and 2021. He also volunteers on the Indiana Supreme Court’s Character and Fitness Committee. He is a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

Irving is passionate about making a difference and bringing positive change in both the courtroom and the classroom. Moreover, Irving has provided respite and foster care and other services to nearly 60 children directly in the State of Indiana. For his community service and legal skills, he has received countless awards and honors; namely, he was selected as Foster Parent of the Year in 2007 (Indiana Foster Care and Adoption Association) and has been recognized by the Indiana Pacers (Indiana Hero) and the Indianapolis Colts (Anthem Angel). In 2010, he was selected as the Outstanding Young Lawyer (Indiana State Bar Association), 2007 Outstanding Young Lawyer (Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana) and was a recipient of the 2007 Leadership in Law Award, where he was recognized as an Up-and-Coming Lawyer and in 2023 as a Distinguished Barrister (Indiana Lawyer). 

Indiana University has recognized him with the Dr. Charlie Nelms Alumni Award, the Maurer School of Law Distinguished Service Award, the Bicentennial Medal, the Volunteer Leadership Award, the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award and the Thomas J. Hennessy Award. In June 2022, he received one of Indiana’s highest civilian honors, the Sagamore of the Wabash, from Governor Eric J. Holcomb.

His motto is from Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court Justice, who stated “None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody-a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony, or a few nuns-bent down and helped us pick up our boots.”

Dr. Valerie McCray was born and raised in Indiana, nurtured in the Indianapolis K-12 public schools, and a graduate of Arsenal Tech High School.  As a single mother, Dr. McCray earned a BA, MA, and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

With over thirty-five (35) years in the psychology field (25 years of licensure), she has witnessed how United States policies profoundly affect the mental health of its citizens. She has worked directly with veterans struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), incarcerated individuals in desperate need of support and rehabilitation, youth struggling to overcome the effects of violence, and more.  Dr. McCray says, “Its clear that mental health must be a national priority…”.

More specifically, Dr. McCray also works with victims of violence and families that have lost loved ones to violence. She treats children that have been displaced due to abuse and neglect, and girls that have been sex trafficked. She works tirelessly to help young people find a positive and healthy path regardless of their circumstances.

In 2024, Dr. McCray made political history in the State of Indiana by qualifying as the first African-American to appear on a state-wide ballot.  She is a role model for all persons in our State, and exemplifies the values of determination and hard work in achieving the American dream.

Dr. McCray is the mother of one adult son, Ryan and daughter-in-law Barbara.  Dr. Val is the dog mom of Apollo the German Shepherd.

Some of the past recipients of the Katie Hall Educational Foundation, Inc.’s Chairman Award are namely: Ken Burns, documentary filmmaker and producer of  The Civil War, Jackie Robinson, The Roosevelts, Our National Parks, Unforgiveable Blackness: Jack Johnson, The American Buffalo, Country Music, The Vietnam War, Hemingway, and Muhammad Ali, amongst other films shown on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS); Mrs. Coretta Scott King (posthumous), Founder and CEO, The King Center, Atlanta, Georgia; Billionaire Trial Attorney Willie E. Gary, Stuart, Florida;  Attorney Ken Iwama, Chancellor, Indiana University Northwest, Gary, Indiana; and Amy Goodman, Host, Democracy Now!  

The 11th Annual Katie Hall Public Service Awards Luncheon will be held on Saturday, April 6, 2024, St. Timothy Community Church, 25th Avenue and Grant Street, Gary.  The VIP Reception will begin at 12PM Noon and the Luncheon Program will begin at 1PM In The Afternoon.  Admission is $100.00 per person.  For more information, please contact Junifer Hall at [email protected] or the Law Office of Attorney John Henry Hall,Ed.D.,LL.M. at (219) 883-7711.

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