George B. Vashon Innovator Award
The George B. Vashon Innovator Award is presented to companies (not in the Fortune 1000) and/or law firms (less than 500 full-time 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 2019 George B. Vashon Innovator Award was presented at the Creating Pathways to Diversity Conference on October 15 in New York. The 2019 Vashon winner was also profiled in Diversity & the Bar magazine, the official magazine of MCCA.
To see how nominations were evaluated, download the scorecard templates below.
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.
2018 George B. Vashon Innovator Honorees
2017 George B. Vashon Innovator Honorees
2017 George B. Vashon Innovator Finalists
Law Firm Finalists
Corporate Law Department Finalists
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. Click here to view the complete list of our past George B. Vashon Innovator Award honorees.