On October 27, 2011, BALIF member Simão J. Ávila, Senior Counsel at Kaiser Permanente, received the 2011 Santa Clara Law Social Justice and Human Rights Award. He was recognized for his work in promoting equality, social justice, and human rights.
Simão (Sim) J. Ávila, was born in the island of São Jorge, Azores (Portugal). Sim immigrated to the United States as a teenager with his parents and five siblings to join his father's side of the family who already lived in California for many years. Sim was the first of his family to attend college. He earned his Bachelor's of Arts degree in Philosophy from Saint Patrick's College in 1977. He then joined the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) where he worked at Casa de los Niños in Tijuana and Tecate, Mexico. This experience led him to become a lawyer instead of a priest. Sim obtained his JD degree from the University of Santa Clara, School of Law in 1983. He began his practice with the National Labor Relations Board in San Juan, Puerto Rico representing workers, unions and employers alike as a field attorney for Region 24. Sim then returned to the Bay Area where he practiced for 16 years at Littler Mendelson and became a shareholder.
At Littler, Sim represented many private and public sector clients on nearly all aspects of employment and labor law during that period. In 2001, Sim became labor and employment counsel for the Office of General Counsel, University of California. He is currently Senior Counsel, Legal & Government Relations for Kaiser Permanente, a position that he accepted in 2007. At Kaiser Permanente, Sim serves in the Diversity Committee where he and his colleagues continue that company's commitment to diversity and inclusion in the practice of law. Sim lecturers at Stanford University, School of Law and at University of California, Boalt Hall, on negotiations and ADR. In furtherance of his commitment to community service, Sim has been a board member with Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, the Alameda County Community Food Band and St. Vincent's Day Home, which offers comprehensive child development programs and services for children in East Oakland.
Sim and his husband David Holy have been together for 11 years and live in the East Bay. Prior recipients of the Santa Clara Law Social Justice and Human Rights Award include Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, former HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch, and former National Hispanic Bar President Victor Marquez.