The Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys

GABWA celebrated the 10th Year Anniversary of its award-winning Professional Development Academy (PDA) on Thursday, April 12, 2018, at Park Tavern. Founding committee members, PDA alumni, faculty members, and supporters gathered to celebrate a decade of inspiring and empowering new lawyers. Tori Silas, the immediate Past President for 2017, presented Samuel S. Woodhouse with the Visionary Award for envisioning the academy and spearheading its early success. The honorable Kimberly M. Esmond Adams presented the Torchbearer Award to Joy Lampley-Fortson for launching the program during her tenure as GABWA President  and serving as its Dean. Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, Mawuli Mel Davis, and John Lewis, Jr. were presented with the Pillar award for their significant contributions to the academy. Guests held back tears as the honorees and presenters gave inspiring and heartfelt testimonies of PDA’s impact on their lives and their inspiration to give so generously to the program. The guests in attendance, many of whom were PDA alumni, were a visual representation of the enduring legacy of PDA’s founders and honorees.


Launched in 2008, the PDA’s purpose is to provide intense professional and personal development to GABWA members beginning their careers in the legal profession. Since its inception, more than 500 new lawyers have graduated from the PDA.. These graduates have gone on to lead local bar associations, become partners in large law firms, start their own successful law practices, and much more. PDA alumnus Christian Fuller describes his PDA experience as follows: “GABWA’s Professional Development Academy represents the highest quality of training for newly minted lawyers. The greatest part of PDA for me was the exposure to the wealth of knowledge and experience of seasoned leaders, both in the legal profession and the community at large. I am forever grateful for being selected to participate in PDA, and for the friendships and mentorships that have continued to be my source of inspiration as a young lawyer. I am excited about PDA continuing to shape young lawyers for generations to come.”


We are tremendously grateful to Visionary Sponsor, The Cochran Firm, for its financial support of the academy’s anniversary event and to Founding Committee members Samuel S. Woodhouse, Joy Lampley Fortson, Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, Hon. Kimberly M. Esmond Adams, E. Jewelle Johnson, Kristen Hall, Sonja Brown, Enjolique Aytch, Sheena Forts, and Hon. JaDawnya Butler, without whom the academy would not exist.


The fall session of PDA will begin in late September 2018. Visit to learn more.