Michael A. Ponto, a partner at Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, has been named one of 20 honorees to receive a Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal 2012 Diversity in Business award. Ponto and the other honorees are being recognized for making a difference in their professions, their companies and the local community.
Ponto is an experienced litigator who focuses on commercial litigation and land use disputes. His practice involves appearances in federal and state courts nationwide, as well as before a variety of arbitration and mediation forums. In addition to helping clients resolve many disputes out of court, he has successfully represented clients in full litigation victories. He also counsels clients faced with Civil Investigative Demands, litigation subpoenas and other governmental investigations.
"I am honored to receive the Diversity in Business award," commented Ponto. "The Minneapolis/St. Paul region has a rich tradition as a welcoming and progressive community. Civic-minded and forward-thinking business leaders helped to build that tradition. I am proud to be recognized today among those who care deeply about our community and are working to build upon the strong foundation we have inherited."
Ponto graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School, magna cum laude, and received his M.A. from Brown University and his B.A. from the University of Minnesota, summa cum laude.
Ponto led the firm's collaboration with the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Center for Lesbian Rights to address concerns about anti-gay policies and harassment in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, the largest school district in Minnesota. In July 2011, a team led by Ponto filed action in federal court on behalf of five individual students of the District, each the target of pervasive harassment based on his or her identity as LGBT and or/gender non-conforming. A sweeping settlement of this case was announced by the parties on March 6, 2012, and included a consent decree that requires the District to implement new protections designed to prevent harassment of students who are or are perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender non-conforming. This groundbreaking settlement provides a model for advocacy on behalf of LGBT students nationally.
Ponto has also provided pro bono representation to multiple clients in a range of matters involving LGBT civil rights and holds a strong record of pro bono advocacy for protection of wilderness areas.
All Diversity in Business award winners are profiled in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Partial text is available here. Full text is available by subscription only.