Press Releases May 24, 2016

Partner Michelle Ouellette Honored with Prestigious ATHENA of Riverside Award

The Award Recognizes Women for Their Professional Excellence, Community Service and Work Helping Other Women Achieve Their Full Potential

Partner Michelle Ouellette Honored with Prestigious ATHENA of Riverside Award

For Immediate Release: May 24, 2016
Media Contact: Denise Nix • 213.787.2552 •

RIVERSIDE, Calif. Best Best & Krieger LLP Partner Michelle Ouellette was honored last week with the ATHENA of Riverside Award, given to her by the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce for her professional achievements and dedication to the community and the women in it. At a lunch reception Friday at the Mission Inn, Ouellette said receiving the Award was one of the “high points” of her career, adding that it was especially meaningful because it focuses on the development and promotion of women.

“There’s no question that we’ve made unprecedented strides in professional achievements,” Ouellette said to a room filled with friends, family, colleagues and clients. “Opportunities for women in all professional areas have increased a thousand fold. My area of practice, environmental law, seems to attract an inordinate number of female attorneys – when I started practicing almost 30 years ago, I would often be the only female attorney in the room. Now it is not uncommon to be working on a complicated environmental law case and all of the attorneys on the case are women.”

Debbi Huffman Guthrie, chair of the ATHENA Steering Committee, said Ouellette embodies the ATHENA Award’s ideals, noting that Ouellette was one of the first women to serve on BB&K’s Executive Committee and the instrumental role she played in shaping what is now one of the nation’s most preeminent environmental law practices. Guthrie told Ouellette: “You’re such an asset to our community and each of the lives you’ve touched. We appreciate you.”

Ouellette’s professional accomplishments include an appellate victory earlier this month in a CEQA challenge to a proposed public-private partnership to pump billions of gallons of fresh groundwater for drought-stricken Southern California residents and businesses. Ouellette said she is most proud, though, of her work creating habitat conservation projects — including the largest one in the nation in Western Riverside County, which covers more than a million acres and protects nearly 150 species.

A video presentation documented Ouellette’s life in photographs, and discussed her love of nature and her passion for working to make a difference — both of which were instilled in her at an early age. In the video, her niece, Natalie, said her aunt “sets an amazing example” by being honest, fair and hardworking. BB&K Partner Charity Schiller said her colleague is on “a tireless crusade to make sure women know they can do anything.” U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips, a former BB&K colleague, added, “She has developed a statewide reputation in environmental law. She’s a leader in the profession, a leader in civic engagement and a wonderful mentor to other young lawyers coming up.”

ATHENA of Riverside is a collaborative partnership made up of past ATHENA Award recipients and supported by the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce. Its mission is to open leadership opportunities for women through inspiration, education, cultivation and mentoring. Each year, the program raises funds for scholarships given to college-level women from the Riverside region to attend local colleges and universities.


Best Best & Krieger LLP is a national law firm that focuses on environmental, business, education, municipal and telecommunications law for public agency and private clients. With 200 attorneys, the law firm has nine offices nationwide, including Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and Washington, D.C. For more information, visit or follow @BBKlaw on Twitter

Continue Reading