MCCA Announces Winners of George B. Vashon Innovator Awards

July 10, 2014


Minority Corporate Counsel Association Announces Winners 
of George B. Vashon Innovator Awards

Vince Heald ( – 858-453-9600
Adrian Aguilera ( – 858-453-9600


Washington, D.C. – The Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) has announced the recipients of its 2014 George B. Vashon Innovator Awards. This year’s recipients are McDermott Will & Emery LLP in the category of Retention Initiatives (Diversity Talent Development Initiative); Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell LLP in the category of Women's Initiatives (Women in Leadership Lecture series); and the New York City Bar Association, Alliance of Securities and Financial Educators (ASAFE), Guggenheim Partners and Morgan Stanley in the category of Pipeline Initiatives. 

The awards will be presented at the MCCA Creating Pathways to Diversity Conference Lunch Plenary on July 24, 2014 at the Washington Hilton and awardees will receive honorable mention at the MCCA Diversity Gala on July 25, 2014 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The George B. Vashon Innovator Award is given to in-house legal departments, law firms and bar associations 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). Vashon was twice denied admission to the bar in Pennsylvania, including once after having been admitted by the U.S. Supreme Court. His determination to overcome these obstacles helped propel his distinguished career.

“Every year champions for equality and inclusion step forward in the legal profession,” said Joseph K. West, MCCA’s President and CEO. “MCCA recognizes the progressive actions of these firms.  This year’s award recipients are following in the proud footsteps of George B. Vashon by extending opportunity to diverse people in the legal community. Their work deserves widespread recognition and MCCA is pleased to honor them.”

The 2014 honorees are being recognized for these initiatives:

McDermott Will & Emery LLPRetention Initiative: The law firm’s innovative Diversity Talent Development Initiative (DTDI) seeks to ensure that its talented, diverse associates are receiving opportunities to obtain the highest quality of work and career development. The program focuses on developing McDermott’s current lawyers of color to fully prepare them to represent the firm’s clients in its highest level matters, be promoted to partnership, and assume leadership positions within the firm.  DTDI pairs racially and ethnically diverse associates with a board of advisors to create and review progress, address concerns and monitor the quality of their work assignments and professional development opportunities, both internally and externally.

Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell LLP (WTO)Women’s Initiatives: The law firm was recognized for its Women in Leadership Lecture Series (WILLS), an innovative program designed specifically to address two fundamental challenges women attorneys encounter: (1) to be a partner and leader in a law firm; a process that requires women lawyers to establish themselves as rainmakers, and (2) to address obstacles that confront women attorneys due to often unconscious biases and perceptions. WILLS creates greater opportunities for WTO women attorneys to network and develop business opportunities with decision makers and referral sources.  It also creates a forum in which professionals from across the business landscape – including women and men – engage in open, intimate conversations about gender, culture and careers.

New York City Bar Association, Alliance of Securities and Financial Educators (ASAFE), Guggenheim Partners and Morgan StanleyPipeline Initiative: For the past two years, these organizations have collaborated on an intensive, one-of-a-kind, six-part series on securities and finance law for diverse students attending New York City area law and business schools. The program provides a core curriculum with notable faculty, strategies for professional development and access to develop relationships with practitioners known as “Advisor Volunteers”.  The series is designed to increase competitiveness of students exploring securities and finance careers and increase diversity and inclusion of traditionally underrepresented groups in these professions.


About MCCA

MCCA was founded in 1997 to advance the hiring, retention and promotion of diverse attorneys in legal departments and the law firms that serve them. MCCA accomplishes its mission through publishing, research and training, pipeline initiatives and networking. MCCA’s work has been recognized with awards from the National Minority Business Council, Inc., the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the National LGBT Bar, and the Association of Corporate Counsel. MCCA is headquartered in Washington, D.C. For more information, go to

About The Kennedy Center

Overlooking the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts produces and presents theater, dance, ballet, orchestral, chamber, jazz, popular, and folk music, in addition to multimedia performances for all ages. It is the busiest performing arts facility in the United States and annually hosts approximately 2,000 performances for audiences totaling nearly two million.

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