Kimberley Motley Receives American Association of Community Colleges 2015 Outstanding Alumni Award 1997 graduate first in MATC history to earn honor

Ginny Gnadt, Public Relations Coordinator

April 21, 2015

Kimberley Motley, a 1997 graduate of Milwaukee Area Technical College’s kimberleymotley_matc_2_4.jpg
paralegal associate degree program, has been named a 2015 Outstanding Alumni Award recipient by the American Association of Community Colleges. Motley received the award April 21 at the AACC Annual Convention in San Antonio.

Motley was one of seven individuals who will be recognized. The other honorees are:

  • Laurie Halse Anderson, Author, Alumna of Onondaga Community College, New York
  • The Honorable Henry Cueller, U.S. House of Representatives, 28th Congressional District, Texas, Alumnus of Laredo Community College, Texas
  • Luke Dollar. Project Director, National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative and Associate Professor, Pfeiffer University Alumnus, of Bevill State Community College, Alabama
  • Walt MacDonald, President and CEO, Educational Testing Service, Alumnus of Camden County College, New Jersey
  • Elaine Nipcon Marieb, Professor Emerita, Holyoke Community College, Alumna of Holyoke Community College, Massachusetts
  • Wellington Webb, Founder, Webb Group International, LLC and Former Mayor of Denver, Colorado, Alumnus of Northeastern Junior College, Colorado

See video of Motley's remarks at the AACC Convention at this link.

“Kimberley Motley is the first graduate of Milwaukee Area Technical College to receive this prestigious award and she is very deserving of the honor,” said MATC President Dr. Vicki J. Martin. “We are proud that Kimberley is a member of the MATC family. Her professional accomplishments serve as an inspiration to our students, faculty, staff and alumni. She is a fearless advocate and a champion for those without a voice and her work will have a lasting impact on the lives of many people.”

Motley served as the keynote speaker at the college’s 2014 Winter Commencement ceremony and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award. She has earned the reputation as one of the world’s most respected and successful lawyers. She currently spends most of her time navigating Afghanistan’s punitive and capricious legal system with unprecedented success.

This pioneering international litigator is the daughter of a North Korean refugee mother and an ex-military African-American father. She initially served as an attorney with the Wisconsin State Public Defender's Office, where she litigated hundreds of criminal, civil and juvenile cases.

Motley then applied to travel to Afghanistan as part of a State Department-funded legal-education program that took her to some of Afghanistan’s notoriously rough, male prisons, women’s prisons and juvenile detention centers. She quickly discovered that there was a dire need for good lawyers to represent foreigners in trouble with the local, corrupt judicial system. As a result she opened a private practice and became the first and still only Westerner to practice law in Afghanistan’s courts.

Affectionately nicknamed “911,” Motley spends nine months of the year living in Afghanistan, defending foreigners to the country, Fortune 500 companies, embassies and ambassadors, and women and children in human rights cases.

Bringing her vast knowledge, experience, success record and steadfast ethical standards to each case, Motley challenges outdated cultural norms. She has independently won freedom for countless victims, including a seven-year-old child bride, a British ex-soldier accused of bribery, and a 15-year-old girl raped and imprisoned; in that case, Motley emerged victorious with the first presidential pardon given to a female for a moral crime in Afghanistan’s history.

Motley is currently licensed to practice law in Afghanistan, the International Criminal Courts, Dubai DIFC, the U.S. Supreme Court, Wisconsin, and is working on other jurisdictions. Her expert legal work and legal research and precedent have earned international attention with segments on CNN, BBC and NBC, as well as articles in The New York Times, The Guardian and The Washington Post, among many others.

Motley also has published several articles on juvenile justice and contemporary legal issues in Afghanistan. She is currently penning a book chronicling her experiences as a Western attorney in the Middle East. In her lectures around the world, Motley shares her handling of criminal, commercial, civil and human rights issues.

After graduating from MATC, Motley then earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, and a juris doctor degree from Marquette University in 2003.