Awards & Recognition

WBA recognizes excellence in the legal profession with the following awards:

Woman Lawyer of the Year Award

The Woman Lawyer of the Year Award is given annually by the WBA at its Annual Dinner, held in May. The award recognizes a woman for her exceptional achievements in the legal profession and/or for her extraordinary contributions to the advancement of women in the profession.

2025 Woman Lawyer of the Year Nominations

The theme for the 2025 Woman Lawyer of the Year is “Strong Communities, Strong Careers.” This theme recognizes the pivotal role professional communities like the WBA play in developing meaningful, fulfilling, and successful careers.

The WBA is looking for nominees who embody the theme of tireless commitment to advancing women lawyers in the profession. The nomination narrative should describe how the nominee has helped further the principles of the WBA mission by advancing and protecting other women lawyers, promoting their improvement, and encouraging friendship.

The deadline for 2025 Woman Lawyer of the Year nominations is 5:00 PM ET, Monday, September 30, 2024.

Click here for nomination requirements and nomination form.

WBA Woman Lawyer of the Year Recipients

2024 Ellen Jakovic
2023 Jo-Ann Wallace
2022 Hon. Anita Josey-Herring
2021 Grace Speights
2020 Jeannie Rhee
2019 Laurie Robinson Haden
2018 Hon Anna Blackburne-Rigsby
2017 Ana C. Reyes
2016 LTG Flora Darpino
2015 Judith Scott
2014 Judy Smith
2013 Hon. Vanessa Ruiz
2012 Katia Garrett
2011 Sherri N. Blount and Debra L. Lee
2010 Nancy Duff Campbell
2009 Justice Elena Kagan
2008 Mary Kennard
2007 Kim M. Keenan
2006 Judith Miller
2005 Hon. Noel Anketell Kramer
2004 Cory M. Amron
2003 Hon. Annice M. Wagner
2002 Carolyn Lamm
2001 Hon. Delissa Ridgeway
2000 Eleanor Acheson
1999 Patricia D. Gurne
1998 Hon. Norma Holloway Johnson
1997 Judith Winston
1996 Marcia Greenberger
1995 Pauline Schneider
1994 Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
1993 Jamie S. Gorelick
1992 Elizabeth Dole
1992 Elaine Ruth Jones
1992 Hon. Patricia McGowan Wald
1992 Hon. Patricia Schroeder
1991 Sara-Ann Determan
1990 Hon. Judith Rogers
1989 Judith Lichtman
1988 Patricia Price Bailey
1987 Betty Southard Murphy
1986 Jean Ramsay Bower
1985 Marna S. Tucker
1984 Hon. Patricia McGowan Wald
1983 Hon. Gladys Kessler
1982 Florence King
1981 Brooksley Born
1980 Hon. Helen Nies
1980 Hon. Edna Parker
1979 Hon. Joyce Hens Green
1978 Jean Dwyer
1977 Suzanne V. Richards
1976 Ruth Hankins-Nesbitt
1975 Hon. Roslyn Bell
1974 A. Patricia Frohman
1972 Margaret A. Haywood
1972 Louise O’Neil
1970 Margaret H. Brass
1969 Catherine B. Kelly
1968 Burnita Shelton Matthews
1967 Una Rita Morris Quenstedt
1966 Elizabeth Bunten
1965 Hon. June L. Green
1964 Marguerite Rawalt

Janet Reno Torchbearer Award

The Janet Reno Torchbearer Award recognizes exceptional women lawyers, their achievements, and the trails they have blazed for those women who have followed. The Torchbearer Award is not expected to be given annually. It is reserved for those rare occasions when the accomplishments of an individual are so extraordinary that they should be recognized. Recipients are recognized by the WBA at its Annual Awards dinner, held in May.

Recipients of the Janet Reno Torchbearer Award

2016   Honorable Loretta E. Lynch
2012   Sheila Bair
2011   Dovey Johnson Roundtree
2008   Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
2007   Judith Areen
2001   Honorable Wilma Lewis
1998   Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton
1997   Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (click here for C-SPAN’s coverage of Justice Ginsburg presenting the award to Justice O’Connor)
1996   Honorable Janet Reno

The Stars of the Bar reception is the WBA’s largest no-cost networking event and kicks off the WBA’s program year. It is typically attended by more than 300 attorneys, including judges, law students, and leaders in the DC legal community. Stars of the Bar offers a professional and friendly environment to network with other attorneys, including WBA members and WBA leadership. Each year at Stars of the Bar, the WBA honors and publicly salutes star-quality local attorneys. Attendees also have an opportunity to meet the WBA’s committee and forum co-chairs, who plan numerous substantive programs that address the professional and practical needs of our membership and of the greater DC legal community. Co-chairs and representatives from the WBA Foundation leadership, are present to answer your questions, alert attendees to upcoming events, and help members get more involved in the WBA and the WBA Foundation.

Each year the WBA honors star-quality lawyers at this event.

2023 Rawle Andrews, Jr. Executive Director American Psychiatric Association Foundation
2023 Nicole Cober Principal Managing Partner Cober Johnson & Romney
2023 Jessica Herrera-Flanigan Partner Monument Advocacy
2023 Esther Lim Partner & Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP
2023 Elaine Spector Partner Harrity & Harrity, LLP
2022 Reta Jo Lewis, Export-Import Bank of the United States
2022 Michele Craddock, Craddock Law PLC
2022 David Jaffe, American University Washington College of Law
2022 Amy Nelson, Whitman-Walker Health
2021 Hon. Judith W. Rogers, U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
2021 Hon. Anita Josey-Herring, Superior Court of the District of Columbia
2021 Vanita Gupta, U.S. Department of Justice
2021, Dean Risa Goluboff, University of Virginia School of Law
2021, Hon. Judith E. Heumann, International Disability Rights Advocate
2020 Kristen Clarke, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
2020 Belva Ann Lockwood (posthumously)
2020 Congressman John Lewis (posthumously)
2019 Hon. Cornelia T.L. Pillard
2019 Hon. Neomi Rao
2019 Hon. Tanya S. Chutkan
2019 Hon. Dabney L. Friedrich
2019 Hon. Beryl A. Howell
2019 Hon. Ellen S. Huvelle
2019 Hon. Amy Berman Jackson
2019 Hon. Ketanji Brown Jackson
2019 Hon. Colleen Kollar-Kotelly
2019 Hon. Robin M. Meriweather
2019 Hon. Deborah A. Robinson
2018 Natalie Roisman
2018 Wendy Young
2018 Michael Lukens
2018 Paula Fitzgerald
2017 Stasia Kelly
2017 Therese D. Pritchard
2017 Angela B. Styles
2017 Cristina A. Carvalho
2016 Dean Daniel F. Attridge
2016 Dean Katherine S. Broderick
2016 Dean Danielle Holley-Walker
2016 Dean Blake D. Morant
2016 Dean Camille Nelson
2016 Dean William Treanor
2015 Karen Barker Marcou
2015 Jenny Brody
2015 Kristin A. Campbell
2015 Hon. Patricia Millett
2015 Monica G. Parham
2015 Marla Spindel
2015 Joanne W. Young
2014 Hon. Anna Blackburne-Rigsby
2014 Leslie T. Thornton
2014 Mary Reding Smith
2013 Hon. Diane M. Brenneman
2013 Paulette E. Chapman
2013 Lorelie S. Masters
2013 Holly E. Loiseau
2012 Hon. Mary A. Gooden Terrell
2012 Brigida Benitez
2012 Marjorie O’Connell
2012 Claudette M. Christian
2012 Lisa Horowitz
2011 Hon. Kaye Christian
2011 Hon. Stephanie Duncan-Peters
2011 Hon. Brook Hedge
2011 Hon. Noel Anketell Kramer
2011 Hon. Cheryl M. Long
2011 Hon. Inez Smith Reid
2011 Hon. Judith Retchin
2011 Hon. Vanessa Ruiz
2011 Hon. Odessa Vincent
2011 Hon. Joan Zeldon
2010 Beverly Burke
2010 Robert Stern
2010 Simone Wu
2009 Shantelle D. Wright
2009 Jenny Brody
2009 Karen Barker Marcou
2009 Marla Spindel
2009 Doran Flowers
2009 Tina Hsu
2009 Jason King
2008 Hon. Ruth C. Burg
2008 Geraldine Gennet
2008 June Jeffries
2007 Hon. Vanessa Ruiz
2007 Hon. Inez Smith Reid
2007 Hon. Noel Anketell Kramer
2007 Hon. Anna Blackburne-Rigsby
2007 Hon. Phyllis Thompson
2007 Hon. Annice M. Wagner
2006 Cythia Thomas Calvert
2006 Karen Lockwood
2006 Michael Nannes
2006 Karen Popp
2006 James Sandman
2005 Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
2004 J. Weilie Cheng
2004 Devarieste Curry
2004 June Dehart
2004 Andrea Bear Field
2004 Pamela Garvie
2004 Elizabeth Sarah Gere
2004 Tara Giunta
2004 Judith Harris
2004 Ann Kappler
2004 Mary E. Kennard
2004 Martha JP McQuade
2004 Laura Miller
2004 Rhonda Orin
2004 Leslie Owsley
2004 Lloyd Leva Plaine
2004 Mary Ellen Powers
2004 Virginia Patton Prugh
2004 Karlyn Stanley
2004 Susan Stewart
2004 Barbara Wall
2004 Cynthia Clarke Weber
2003 Cory M. Amron
2003 Kathleen Behan
2003 Katherine Shelley Broderick
2003 Hon. Ruth C. Burg
2003 Cheryl Burke
2003 Dara Corrigan
2003 Diana Daniels
2003 Jamie Gorelick
2003 Judith L. Lichtman
2003 M. Elizabeth Medaglia
2003 Jennifer Porter
2003 Michele A. Roberts
2003 Sandra H. Robinson
2003 Martha Purcell Rogers
2003 Hon. Patricia McGowan Wald
2003 Karen Hastie Williams
2003 Judith Richards Hope
2002 Brooksley Born
2002 Kim Gandy
2002 Geraldine Gennet
2002 Patricia D. Gurne
2002 Shirley Ann Higuchi
2002 Hon. Noel Anketell Kramer
2002 Carolyn Lamm
2002 Wilma Lewis
2002 Linda Madrid
2002 Judith Miller
2002 Betty Southard Murphy
2002 Hon. Delissa A. Ridgway
2002 Joan Strand
2002 Marna S. Tucker
2002 Hon. Annice M. Wagner

The Women’s Bar Association established the Mussey-Gillett Shining Star Award in 2007 to recognize WBA members who, through their vision and sustained and unflagging dedication to the WBA or to WBA committees and forums, have made extraordinary contributions that have advanced the mission of the association in the best tradition of leadership exemplified by the WBA’s Founders, Ellen Spencer Mussey and Emma Gillett.

Mussey-Gillett Shining Star Award Recipients

2023 Bridgette Stumpf
2022 Upnit Bhatti
2021 Renee-Lauren Ellis & Lauren Brown
2020 Janine Herring
2019 Sherlyn Johanson
2018 Kate Mueting
2017 Kandis Gibson
2016 Charlotte Kuenen, CFP®
2015 Cathy Pagano
2014 Colleen M. Yushchak
2013 Lynne Milne
2008 Jamie Abrams
2008 Christina Ayiotis
2008 Jenny Kim
2007 Trish Alatorre-Ridings
2007 Susan Kimmel

The Monica Parham Memorial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award was given by the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia at its 2021 Annual Dinner, held on October 6, 2021, at the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC.

Monica Parham served as WBA President during the 2011-2012 Bar year, and served as WBA Foundation President from 2016-2018. In addition to being a beloved member of the WBA community, she also was a dedicated and impactful diversity and inclusion professional. Monica’s passing in October 2020 was devastating, and in the months leading up to her passing she did not want others to focus on her illness and instead she directed focus to her life’s work to truly diversify the legal profession.

Monica was a mentor, an advocate, a sponsor, and a change agent.

In her memory, the WBA is recognizing two individuals for their meaningful and demonstrably impactful work to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession. This award is consistent with the theme for the 2020-2021 Bar year: The Importance of Allies and Friends.

We are pleased to announce our recipients, two women who, like Monica Parham, have successfully engaged allies and friends in their efforts to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Yolanda Hawkins-Bautista is Associate General Counsel, Litigation at Freddie Mac. Ms. Hawkins-Bautista is dedicated to helping other attorneys of color obtain a seat at the table in hopes of increasing diversity within the profession.

Since the beginning of her career, Yolanda has been a tireless advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession. After graduating from law school, she became the Scholarship Chair of the Elliott G. Heard, Jr. Memorial Fund, Inc., which awarded 40 scholarships to minority law students. During an 11-year tenure on the WBA Board, including as president, Yolanda spearheaded efforts to train and prepare young women of color lawyers. She helped to organize and actively participated in the WBA’s Bootcamp: Real World Training for Future Success. The Bootcamp consisted of a half-day training program followed by panel discussions that focused on meeting expectations, common pitfalls and solutions, and advancing in the legal profession. Yolanda was part of the Initiative Working Group for the Navigating the Corporate Matrix: Advancing Women in Corporate Law Departments. The day-long Summit tackled such issues as identifying the path to the top, securing mentoring and professional development opportunities, and achieving work/life balance. Working at the direction of Monica Parham and other WBA leaders, she assisted with drafting and editing the subsequent report. As president, one of her major initiatives involved increasing the number of women of color at the partnership level and senior-level positions within corporate law departments in the DC area. To that end, she created the Women of Color Task Force, which sponsored “Formula for Success: How In-House Counsel Can Advance Women of Color to Partnership,” an event that brought together senior law firm partners and general counsels to discuss the challenges that women of color face in big law firms and to propose possible solutions to overcoming those challenges. The Task Force also produced the “Dare to Make an Impact Conference: Advancing Women of Color.” The conference focused on dismantling the barriers to entry and success for women of color within the partnership ranks of law firms and law departments with specific emphasis on creating strategies and tools for overcoming those barriers.

At Freddie Mac, Yolanda serves as the Co‐Vice Chair of the Legal Division’s DE&I Council and the Legal Division’s Representative on the Company-wide Inclusion & Diversity Action Teams (“IDAT”). In 2018, Freddie Mac’s Legal Division rolled out its Engage Excellence Initiative. Yolanda was one of the principal creators of Engaged Excellence, a lawyer inclusion incentive program specifically designed to increase business opportunities for minority, women, disabled, veteran, and LGBTQ+ attorneys. As a result of this initiative, the Division hires diverse lawyers as lead counsel and requires that those lawyers receive origination credit. Freddie Mac attorneys ensure that new matters having more than two attorneys from outside firms include diverse teams. As of January 1, 2020, Freddie Mac in-house attorneys and professionals must obtain approval from the DE&I Council Chair and Vice-Chairs (which includes Yolanda) before a firm can be engaged. As a result of these efforts, Freddie Mac has increased its supplier diversity spend from 1% to approximately 17%.

In addition to her work with the WBA and Freddie Mac, Yolanda has moderated or spoken on countless panels with leading organizations, including the DC Bar Exceptional Women Lawyers Series — “Women in Law: The Importance of Mentors (Pt. 1);” Verizon 4th Annual Diversity & Inclusion Summit — “It’s Not That Hard: Just Do It;” “Banner Witcoff Diversity & Inclusion Speaker Series;” and “MCCA Equity Track Program.

Jill Yu is Branch Chief, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Jill advocates on behalf of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, including work on critical initiatives to increase awareness of and prevent bullying.

Jill’s tireless efforts for diversity, equity and inclusion began in 2014 when she established and led the Filipino American Lawyers Association of Washington, DC (FALA DC), an affiliate of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. FALA DC began when Jill and a colleague recognized a need for an organization in the DC metropolitan area where Filipino American attorneys could unite to serve the community and grow professionally. FALA serves as an “advocacy and professional development organization that brings together Filipino American attorneys, judges, and law students to serve the local community and develop programs to enhance legal knowledge so it can address the issues impacting the Filipino American community and serve as a unifying organization for legal professionals who pursue excellence in the practice of law.”

After Jill’s time with FALA DC, she went on to the National Filipino American Lawyers Association, where she served as regional governor, representing local affiliates from the eastern part of the U.S., and chair of the Public Sector Section. As chair, Jill worked on promotion of opportunities to share information about careers in the public sector for those that are typically underrepresented. Jill then took her talents to the White House, serving as an advisor to the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Through her work, she instituted critical initiatives including promoting enrollment for healthcare, organizing a philanthropic and public and private partnership event at the White House, working with senior federal agency executives on how their agency can better serve Asian American populations, and co-founding the Act to Change (a national public awareness campaign on bullying prevention, which has evolved to a national nonprofit working to address the challenges that the Asian Americans and Pacific Islander community experience).

Currently, Jill serves on the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, where she actively serves on the organization’s Hate Crimes Task Force. The task force discusses how civil rights organizations can work together to respond to any rise in hate crimes affecting its members, including the Anti-Defamation League, Sikh Coalition, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and Southern Poverty Law Center.

Jill has further demonstrated her leadership through her development of “The Racism is a Virus Toolkit,” in collaboration with the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership. Jill has worked with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and the Daniel K. Inouye Institute on a digital art exhibit called “Kindness Heals.”

Among her work advocating on behalf of the AAPI community, Jill has been an active speaker and educator in the government and private sectors. Jill has briefed senior federal officials with the U.S. Department of Justice, Deputy Attorney General’s Office on anti-Asian sentiment experienced by the youth and families. Jill also briefed officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Anti-Defamation League on methods law enforcement could utilize to rebuild trust amongst the AAPI community. Jill’s additional speaking engagements include serving as a uest speaker for an event hosted by Verizon entitled, “Step Forward: Careers & Community Conference — ’Digital Safety: How to Protect Yourself from Cyberstalking and Online Harassment’” and as a panelist for the Virtual Equality Lounge at Cannes Lions 2021 Awards event entitled, “Bridging the Divide and Driving Inclusion,” hosted by the Ad Council.


Maintaining the honor and integrity of the profession; promoting the administration of justice; advancing and protecting the interests of women lawyers; promoting their mutual improvement; and encouraging a spirit of friendship.