McGuireWoods partner Cheri Beasley, the first African American woman to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina, has been honored by two civil rights organizations for her leadership and advocacy for equal justice throughout her distinguished career.
North Carolina Advocates for Justice, a nonpartisan association of legal professionals, presented Beasley with its inaugural Annie Brown Kennedy Award during the organization’s June 11, 2021, convention. The award is named for the first African American woman to serve in the North Carolina General Assembly and the second to be licensed to practice law in the state. The award recognizes individuals for their commitment to acquiring “full freedom” for all North Carolina citizens and exceptional advocacy that protects individual liberties.
The Urban League of Central Carolinas honored Beasley with the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award during its June 9, 2021, awards gala. The awards program recognizes individuals and corporations for efforts to create opportunities for those in under-represented communities and for championing diversity, inclusion and philanthropy.
“I am grateful to these respected organizations for these honors,” Beasley said. “It is especially rewarding to be associated with civil rights pioneers Annie Brown Kennedy and Whitney Young Jr., who have done so much to advance the cause of equal justice in North Carolina and throughout the country.”
“Cheri Beasley has dedicated her career to making the promise of equal justice a reality for all,” said Mary Nash Rusher, managing partner of McGuireWoods’ Raleigh office. “We are proud to be her colleagues and thrilled to see her recognized for her service.”
Beasley joined McGuireWoods’ litigation practice in Raleigh in January 2021 after serving for eight years on the state’s highest court. Gov. Roy Cooper appointed Beasley Chief Justice in March 2019.
As head of the state’s Judicial Branch, Beasley initiated reforms to improve efficiency, fairness and accessibility in the state’s court system. Under her leadership, state courts began adoption of electronic filing and cloud computing systems to make court services available remotely and expanded access to specialty treatment and family courts. Beasley implemented the Judicial Branch’s first parental leave policy. She also launched North Carolina’s Faith and Justice Alliance, bringing together legal and religious leaders to address the legal needs of those living in poverty.
Beasley has held several leadership roles and served on committees in the American Bar Association and the North Carolina Bar Association to promote access to legal services. She has received numerous awards and honorary doctorates for distinguished leadership and public service. She recently announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate, seeking the Democratic nomination in the 2022 election.