George B. Vashon Innovator Award

The MCCA is pleased to announce it has opened nominations for the George B. Vashon Innovator Award. The award is presented to smaller companies (not in the Fortune 1000) and law firms (less than 500 attorneys) that have led the way with innovative best practices to assist diverse attorneys. It is named for scholar, abolitionist and lawyer George B. Vashon, who was the first licensed African American attorney in New York State (1848) and one of the first admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court (1867).

The criteria selection and application process have changed this year, so please review the application carefully. MCCA will select six national finalists (3 law firms and 3 corporate law departments) and they will have an opportunity to showcase their diversity and inclusion efforts in a 60 second slideshow, to be shown at the 2017 Creating Pathways to Diversity Conference in New York. The finalists will also be profiled in Diversity & the Bar magazine, the official magazine of the MCCA. The winners (1 law firm and 1 corporate law department) will be announced at the Creating Pathways to Diversity Conference on October 3, and the award will be presented to the winning company’s General Counsel or firm’s Managing Partner who will accept on behalf of their organization.

The deadline for all applications is August 4, 2017.

About George B. Vashon

George Boyer Vashon was a noted African-American legal scholar and abolitionist. He twice sought admission to practice law in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, but was rejected in both cases because of his race. In October 2010, after Vashon’s great-grandson, Duane Morris Chief Diversity Officer Nolan N. Atkinson, Jr., and others petitioned the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Vashon was officially admitted posthumously to the bar of the courts of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

As a teenager, alongside his father who was an abolitionist and well-respected leader in the black community, Vashon co-founded the Pittsburgh anti-slavery society in 1838. He attended Oberlin College, where he was the first African-American to receive a bachelor’s degree. After he was denied the right to practice law in Allegheny County, he moved to New York and became the first licensed African-American attorney in that state. Later returning to Pittsburgh, Vashon became a principal at the African-American public school and served as president of Avery College. Vashon moved to Washington, D.C., where he was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and, in 1867, became one of the first black professors at Howard University. Vashon died in Mississippi in 1878 during a yellow-fever epidemic.

2016 George B. Vashon Innovator Award Honorees

WGL Holdings Inc., and Washington Gas
(Diversity Initiatives)

Winston & Strawn LLP
(Women’s Initiatives)

Past Honorees List

MCCA is proud to honor and distinguish firms that tried something new and succeeded, whether in recruitment and retention, mentoring, pipeline initiatives, LGBT initiatives, or client inclusion feedback. Here is the complete list of our past George B. Vashon Innovator Award honorees.


Exelon Corporation
(Pipeline Initiatives)
Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc.
(Recruitment and Retention Initiatives)
Kozyak Minority Mentoring Foundation
(Mentoring Initiative)


Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell LLP (WTO)
(Women’s Initiatives)
McDermott Will & Emery LLP
(Retention Initiatives)
New York City Bar Association, Alliance of Securities and Financial Educators (ASAFE), Guggenheim Partners and Morgan Stanley
(Pipeline Initiative)


Prudential Financial, Inc.
(LGBT Initiative)
Pepper Hamilton LLP
(Pipeline Initiative)
Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe
(Mentoring Initiative)


Prudential Financial, Inc.
(Diverse Attorney Spotlight Program)
Duane Morris LLP
(Recruitment and Retention)
Target Corporation
(Recruitment and Retention)
Goldberg Segalla LLP
(Pipeline Initiative)
Winston & Strawn LLP
(Mentoring Initiative)

 Strategic Members 2017

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