Posted in: Lawyers › Young Lawyers Division
Driven, dedicated, and passionate. These are just some of the words used to describe Sutania A. Fuller and Teckla S. Henderson. Though Fuller and Henderson come from different backgrounds, they are both public servants who embrace the legal profession while working to better their communities. Fuller and Henderson now have something else in common, as they jointly received the YLD Young Lawyer of the Year award for 2021.
Sutania Fuller: Living a life of service
At the 11th Circuit Solicitor's Office, Sutania Fuller works as an assistant solicitor dedicated to prosecuting some of the most violent criminals in the area while supporting and giving back to her community. As a former judicial law clerk for Judge Clifton Newman, Fuller assisted with complex cases and made a lasting impact during her year long clerkship. Her commitment to public service and leadership are just part of the reason she is being honored. Her selflessness has benefited those around her said Eleventh Circuit Solicitor S.R. “Rick” Hubbard, III in a letter of support for Fuller’s nomination.
"It was obvious to many of her colleagues that she would not only become an outstanding prosecutor but that she genuinely cared about giving back and being a positive role model for the community she served," Hubbard said. "Sutania has exceeded even our expectations of the quality and amount of selfless giving that she has provided not only for our local citizens but for citizens across South Carolina."
Fuller's record of service and dedication to YLD and Bar leadership is extensive, with involvement in the SC Bar Diversity Committee and serving as co-chair of the Leadership Academy as well as YLD’s Make-A-Wish Committee, Color of Justice Committee, Protecting Our Youth Committee, and serving as the Membership Events co-chair.
Some of Fuller's recent notable work was the planning and execution of the Diversity Committee's programming for the 2021 SC Bar Convention and planning a new series, "Virtual Fireside Chats: Beyond the Robe," on behalf of the Diversity Committee.
“Sutania and four other lawyers organized and led a lawyer protest to stand against racial injustice in our community in the summer of 2020. Her work galvanized almost one hundred lawyers from across the state to attend and participate in the protest and inspired similar protests in other parts of the state,” said nominator Johanna C. Valenzuela. “In late 2020, Sutania put her passion into action, organizing and hosting an incredibly popular webinar series named ‘Virtual Fireside Chats: Beyond the Robe,’ where diverse members of the judiciary shared their experience and knowledge in a virtual platform. Sutania truly sets the standard for a young lawyer; she serves her community selflessly while also succeeding in her profession. Our Bar is better for her service and leadership.”
Fuller's efforts to help all South Carolinians are far-reaching. As the former chair, her work on the Protecting Our Youth committee benefited numerous children and schools across the state. During the 2018-2019 Bar year, the number of students served more than doubled due to Fuller restructuring the program.
Her enthusiasm and dedication to the committee are what led to this accomplishment, La'Jessica Stringfellow said in a letter of support.
"As the recent former chair of this committee, Sutania revamped the program and increased the number of schools that were serviced each year. Sutania challenged the committee to provide programming to all 46 counties in the state," Stringfellow said in her nomination letter. "The committee was only a couple counties shy of fulfilling such a lofty goal. However, compared to previous years, Sutania more than doubled the number of schools and students served. In addition to school outreach, Sutania spearheaded the first-ever Protecting Our Youth Mass day."
Fuller says she will continue her passion for public service.
"I am deeply honored and humbled to be recognized as a YLD Young Lawyer of the Year. The fact that others saw enough in me to nominate me for this recognition is what blesses me the most," Fuller said. "I live a life of service, and everything that I do is with a goal to make the world around me a better place while walking in my passion and purpose. I truly hope that I continue to live up to what it means to be a recipient of this award."
Teckla Henderson: “Superhero among us”
Teckla Henderson is no stranger to public service. As the director of executive affairs with the South Carolina Department of Public Safety and the former city prosecutor for the City of Columbia, she displays impressive work that benefits the community. However, she is also being honored for the lives and communities she has helped outside of the office and courtroom.
Her work has prepared her for the excellence she exhibits, Judge Clifton Newman said.
"Ten years ago, Teckla served admirably as my judicial law clerk. These clerkships helped nurture Teckla in the law and prepared her for the excellence she exhibited as city attorney and now demonstrates as director of executive affairs for the SC Department of Public Safety," Newman said in his letter of support. "Noteworthy is the contribution Teckla is making to the Midlands community and the SC Bar through her leadership in YLD activities, including her stellar performance as the current Diversity Committee chair."
Henderson's work as chair of the SC Bar Diversity Committee increased engagement among members through her ability to address important topics and showcase the contributions of diverse members to the legal profession. In addition to serving on the YLD Diversity Committee, Color of Justice Committee, SC Bar Nominating Committee and the Continuing Legal Education Committee, Henderson also serves as co-chair of YLD Voices Against Violence committee.
"During the pandemic, Ms. Henderson reached out to help ensure that the SC Bar was informed of the capacity limitations of our various shelters and supportive services," said Patricia Ravenhorst, general counsel for the SC Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. "The committee's efforts to have the entire SC Bar support our member program was such an uplifting moment during a challenging time."
Also, a volunteer for the Cinderella Project and the Mock Trial program, Henderson works hard to provide service to her community in numerous ways. Many would think that a person with this much responsibility would not have time for others, but not Henderson, nominator and 2018 YLD Young Lawyer of the Year Lyndey Bryant said.
"If there were a superhero among us, it is Teckla. Her contributions to the legal profession and community are endless. She has a seemingly infinite source of energy and enthusiasm. Her time and schedule are constantly in order and seem to have room for anyone and anything," Bryant said in her nomination letter. "In addition to being a loving wife and devoted mother to three beautiful children, she carries a heavy workload and works exceptionally hard."
Henderson says she will continue her enthusiasm and passion for service even after her time with the YLD ends.
"It is an honor to be recognized by the SC Bar for my service to the YLD and the community, and while my time as a young lawyer is nearing its end, I do not intend to dampen my enthusiasm for civic engagement and opportunities for our profession to grow," Henderson said. "Indeed, being named the Young Lawyer of the Year only further solidifies my commitment to remain in Bar service for many years to come."
Fuller and Henderson received the awards during the YLD Leadership retreat in May in Greenville and will be honored at the House of Delegates in-person meeting in July in Beaufort.