George B. Vashon Innovator Award

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.

2016 | George B. Vashon Innovator Award Honorees

The Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) has announced the recipients of its 2016 George B. Vashon Innovator Awards. This year’s awardees are WGL Holdings, Inc., and Washington Gas in the category of Diversity Initiatives; and Winston & Strawn LLP in the category of Women's Initiatives. The awards will be presented at the MCCA Creating Pathways to Diversity Conference Lunch Plenary on July 18, 2016 at the Renaissance Washington Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Diversity Initiatives

WGL Holdings Inc., and Washington Gas

WGL Holdings Inc., and Washington Gas –  WGL, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is a leading source for clean, efficient and diverse energy solutions. With activities and assets across the U.S., WGL consists of Washington Gas -- a publicly-traded, highly regulated natural gas utility serving Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia -- WGL Energy, WGL Midstream, and Hampshire Gas. WGL provides options for natural gas, electricity, green power and energy services, including generation, storage, transportation, distribution, supply and efficiency. Our calling as a company is to make energy surprisingly easy for our employees, our community and all our customers, whether you are a homeowner or renter, small business or multinational corporation, state and local or federal agency. Philanthropy, volunteerism and community service are also a core value of our company. Last year, our employees contributed more than 12,800 volunteer hours to over 40 community outreach programs focused on health, education and environment. It means a lot to us to give back to communities in ways that extend beyond energy supply. WGL is consistently in the top 25 of the Washington Business Journal’s annual corporate philanthropy ranking based total number of employee volunteer hours.

Women's Initiatives


Winston & Strawn LLP

Winston & Strawn LLP –  Winston & Strawn LLP is an international law firm with more than 850 attorneys among 18 offices in North America, Europe, and Asia. The exceptional depth and geographic reach of our resources enable Winston & Strawn to manage virtually every type of business-related legal issue. We understand that clients are looking for value beyond just legal expertise. With this in mind, we work hard to understand the level of involvement our clients want from us. We take time to learn about our clients’ organizations and their business objectives. And, we place significant emphasis on technology and teamwork in an effort to respond quickly and effectively to our clients’ needs. Visit us at if you would like more information about our legal services, our experience, or the industries we serve.



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 in the legal profession.

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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.

Pathways Conference

The George B. Vashon Innovator Award is presented at Creating Pathways to Diversity® Conference. Click below for more details about this event.

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