Strautmanis (’94) receives James Seaberry Award for Excellence

Monday, March 10, 2014

Michael Strautmanis ('94), vice president of citizenship and strategic programs at The Walt Disney Company, has been honored with the 2014 James Seaberry Award for Excellence by the University of Illinois College of Law Black Law Students Association (BLSA). He was recognized at the 21st Annual BLSA Alumni Banquet on March 8 at the I Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign.

"Mr. Strautmanis embodies what the Seaberry Award has represented for the past twenty-one years," says Joyce Otuwa (2L), president of BLSA. "He was at the center of a monumental moment in the country by contributing to the Obama campaign, and then continuing on to the White House. This is what we all strive to do: to make bold decisions, and to make impactful contributions to our community through our legal careers. He is an inspiration for where we want to go as BLSA members. We are so honored and humbled by the opportunity to recognize an alumnus of such great accomplishment."

Since 1993, the James Seaberry Award has honored each year an outstanding lawyer in the African-American legal community. At the time of its inception, Seaberry was the oldest living black attendee of the University of Illinois College of Law. 

Prior to joining The Walt Disney Company as vice president of citizenship and strategic programs, Strautmanis worked at the White House as deputy assistant to the president and counselor for strategic engagement to the senior advisor. His work with the White House dates back to the president's election as the junior U.S. senator from Illinois, serving as then-Senator Obama’s chief counsel and deputy chief of staff. He continued serving Obama on the campaign as senior counsel for Obama for America, playing a leading role in political outreach as a member of the Congressional Relations team. Upon the president’s election, Strautmanis joined Obama’s presidential transition team as chief counsel and the director of public liaison and intergovernmental affairs.

Previously, Strautmanis practiced complex litigation and employment law in Chicago at Sidley Austin. He then joined the Clinton Administration as chief of staff to the general counsel at the United States Agency for International Development.

A double Illini, he received his B.S. and J.D. from the University of Illinois.