Legends & Leaders: Honoring Alumni Leadership, Service, Generosity, and Impact

American University Washington College of Law Recognizes Alumni with Awards for Philanthropy and Distinguished Leadership 

Left to right: The Honorable Jeannie J. Hong '88, 2022 Distinguished Alum Award winner; Dean Roger A. Fairfax, Jr.; Joiava Thomas Philpott '90, 2023 Distinguished Alum Award winner; The Honorable Dorothy Beasley '64, Lifetime Philanthropy Award winner

American University Washington College of Law (WCL) recognized three path-breaking women at the Legends & Leaders Awards Reception on April 14, 2023. The Lifetime Philanthropy Award was presented to the Honorable Dorothy Beasley, while the Distinguished Alumnus Award was given to Joiava Thomas Philpott and the Outstanding Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) Award was given to Emily Brait.

The Honorable Dorothy Beasley '64 received the Lifetime Philanthropy Award for her generous and meaningful support of WCL. Beasley received a scholarship while earning her J.D. from the Washington College of Law in 1964. This inspired her to endow the Stephen and Beatrice Dodd Toth Scholarship Fund, named in honor of her parents, to provide need-based support for women in the top 20 percent of their class. The scholarship is awarded to students committed to public service who earn a B-average or above, with a preference for women.

Dean Roger Fairfax congratulates The Honorable Dorothy Beasley '64 who received the Lifetime Philanthropy Award for her generous and meaningful support of AUWCL.

"I was not a star student," Judge Beasley said. "I had to work hard, and while top achievers are deserving, diligent students need help, too. There are so, so many people who are doing the same kind of thing, and to be selected for this honor, I have to regard it as representing all of them, too."

Beasley was the first woman on the state court of Fulton County and was appointed to the Georgia Court of Appeals in 1984, where she was the first woman and was re-elected during her 15-year tenure. She is retired and serves as an instructor for the Red Cross in international humanitarian law and promotes the use of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's i-Civics Program. Beasley's endowed scholarship fund continues to help talented women interested in pursuing legal careers that advance justice, equality, and positive change.

"It’s a privilege and a joy," she said. "We hear directly from the Dean and share ideas for new things on the horizon. I also get to know some of the other alums this way."

Joiava Thomas Philpott '90 received the Distinguished Alumnus Award for exceptional leadership and accomplishments in her professional field, which brought personal distinction and honor to the law school.

"I am grateful for the foundation that I received from WCL," said Philpott. "It propelled me to focus on leadership and service while in the pursuit of excellence in the legal profession."  

Joiava Thomas Philpott '90, 2023 Distinguished Alum Award winner and Dean Roger A. Fairfax, Jr.

Philpott serves as senior vice president and general counsel for Cox Communications, Inc., the largest privately held broadband company in the country. She oversees compliance, legal operations, and regulatory and government affairs, and leads policy and advocacy efforts. Philpott has served in various leadership and board roles for the American Corporate Counsel Association, National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications, Federal Communications Bar Association, and the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential. She is also a founding member of the Sister2Sister Teen Mentoring Program, an initiative of the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys that supports and trains troubled teens.

Emily Brait '17 received the Outstanding Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) Award. The GOLD Award is presented to an alumnus who graduated within the past ten years and has shown exceptional professional achievements and volunteer service to the Washington College of Law community.

Brait, who is currently an associate at Baker McKenzie, was nominated for the award by Jonathan Ratchik ’97, a fellow chapter leader. She is the leader of WCL’s largest and most active regional alumni chapter, the New York City Alumni Chapter, where she has overseen significant growth in membership and the organization of successful events for alumni, recent graduates, and prospective students.

Emily Brait '17 received the Outstanding Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) Award

Brait expressed her gratitude for being recognized as an outstanding graduate, acknowledging the positive impact that the WCL community has had on her professional development. She hopes to continue to foster connections and networking opportunities for WCL alumni in New York and beyond.

"I’m honored to receive the 2023 GOLD Award," she said. "The further along I get in my career, the more I see how the WCL community positively impacted my professional development, and I am so grateful to be recognized as an outstanding graduate." 

Through her leadership and the collective efforts of other chapter leaders, the success of the NYC Alumni Chapter will likely serve as a template for creating other regional chapters and strengthening community networks.

Eric Huang '05 served as emcee for the 2023 event

The Legends and Leaders honorees have made a lasting impact on the legal profession and beyond, inspiring future generations to continue their work toward a more just society. Their contributions serve as a reminder of the power of leadership and the importance of using it to effect positive change. As we look toward the future, we can take inspiration from the achievements of these remarkable individuals and strive to follow in their footsteps.

Learn more about Legends and Leaders, including past winners here.

~Story by Erika Hartings. Photos by Anthony Washington. See the full photo library here