Fred Abramson's Lasting Legacy
The death of beloved DC lawyer Fred Abramson in 1991 inspired his friends to launch an organization that helps deserving DC students succeed in college and beyond. Last night, the Abramson Foundation celebrated its 21st annual Scholarship Reception.
DC Attorney General Karl Racine gave the keynote in Covington's new One CityCenter office. Since the Foundation started in 1993, it has helped more than 270 students through college with financial support and mentoring. Many return to become mentors themselves—including Cinnamon McCann, left (now an Abramson Foundation executive committee member) and Jeneese Lewis (second from right). Charlene Smith, second from left, is a third-year scholar at GW.
Fred was a talented lawyer who also emphasized service and mentoring. At one time a DC Bar president, he spent a decade on the DC Judicial Nomination Commission, including four years as chair. Many of his friends in the judiciary were in attendance yesterday. We snapped US District Court Judge Paul Friedman—a founding member of the Abramson Foundation and its first president—flanked by retired DC Superior Court Magistrate Judge Joan Goldfrank, who spent more than 15 years on the Foundation's board, and Gibson Dunn DC office founding partner John Olson. Behind them is Fred's photograph. "That smile captures him," Joan tells us. "He was just a great person."
It was an upbeat evening (mixed with some teary eyes while speakers discussed the scholars' accomplishments). We snapped Senior US District Judge for the District of Columbia Gladys Kessler with Arnold & Porter senior counsel and former DC AG Irv Nathan and Irv's wife, Judith Walter. Judge Kessler and Irv are longtime board members.
Irv has also been a mentor through the Abramson Foundation—including to Aaron Jenkins, right, the current head of the Foundation's mentoring program (and one of the best public speakers we've come across). We snapped Aaron and US District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle with a scholar they mentored: Yasmine Arrington, who recently graduated from Elon University. While still in high school, Yasmine founded the nonprofit ScholarCHIPs to raise tuition for students with incarcerated parents.
Elaine Hammond is the Abramson Foundation's executive director; we snapped her with DC Superior Court Judge Hiram Puig-Lugo.
We spotted Foundation board member and US District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Emmet Sullivan catching up with DC Superior Court Presiding Magistrate Judge Pamela Gray, a former board member. Like the Foundation's scholars, Judge Sullivan graduated from a DC public school.
Abramson Foundation president Addy Schmitt, counsel at Miller & Chevalier, smiles with Dickstein's Reginald McKnight and Woody Peterson. "Fred always found time to give back to the community in countless ways," said Addy during her remarks.
Sally Levie, Galin Brooks, Matt Logan, Josh Levie, retired DC Superior Court judge Richard Levie, the Foundation's nominations chair, and Foundation scholarship chair Sally Gere. Many of the students chosen for scholarships are the first in their families to be accepted to college. Fred himself grew up in a tough neighborhood before attending Yale and the University of Chicago Law School. He spent his career at institutions including the DOJ, AT&T, EEOC, and Arnold & Porter, and served as DC Bar Counsel, DC Bar president and a Georgetown Law adjunct.
Current and former scholars in a group shot. There are eight new Scholars heading into their freshman year in the fall, 17 working their way through college and three who recently graduated (Georgetown, GW and Elon). When a couple of students expressed an interest in studying law, the DC AG passed them each a business card and insisted that they apply next summer for an internship in the OAG.