The Tennessee Justice Center, a non-profit public interest law and advocacy firm serving families, has honored Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Holly Kirby as a Community Mother of the Year for her dedication to her family and families across Tennessee.
The recognition salutes Justice Kirby's efforts for years on behalf of her son, Scott Lillard, who has Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder.
Because of Scott’s autism, he has always struggled with social awkwardness and understanding others' social cues and non-verbal communication. However, these difficulties have not kept him from accomplishing goals that would make any mother proud: Scott has both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in history. He has lived and worked abroad and participated in autism research and advocacy. Scott credits his success to his mother’s unwavering support and guidance.
"Without my mother standing up for me, I wouldn't be where I am. I want to spend my life standing up for other kids," Lillard said.
In a press release, the Tennessee Justice Center noted Justice Kirby’s tremendous devotion to Scott and to her daughter, Brooke Lillard, which has created ripple effects that reach wider communities.
"When my son, Scott, was young, it was very hard to get him the diagnosis and care that he needed, and to get the accommodations in school that were essential for him. I didn't know of any organizations to look to for guidance or help, which meant I just had to figure it out as we went along," said Justice Kirby. "In college and graduate school, Scott had to learn to advocate for himself, to enable him to realize his full potential. I'm so proud of his efforts now to advocate for others.”
The release goes on to say that Justice Kirby is not only an extraordinary mother, but also a true public servant.
“In my 20 years on Tennessee's appellate courts, I've seen many cases involving families who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in terrible circumstances - fine people facing incredible challenges. I may be a judge, but I'm a mom too, and it is heartbreaking to see the struggle these families go through. We need to connect Tennessee's families with the resources that are available to help them," Justice Kirby said.
More details are available on the Tennessee Justice Center's website.