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The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

Board of Trustees nominates first black female chair

File Photo by Donna Armstrong | Contributing Photo Editor
LeBlanc said earlier this year he expected the two naming task forces to finalize their recommendation this spring.

The secretary of the Board of Trustees is poised to become the first woman and the first African-American to head the group.

Grace Speights, who graduated from the law school in 1982, was nominated as the group’s first chairwoman Friday and will likely be confirmed for the position at the Board’s May meeting. Speights would replace two-term Chairman Nelson Carbonell, whose term ends on May 31.

“I welcome the opportunity to lead the board as we continue to provide our oversight duties in support of President [Thomas] LeBlanc and the university’s vision for preeminence as a comprehensive global research university,” Speights said in a University release Friday.

Speights is a partner at Morgan Lewis – a law firm with about 2,000 lawyers worldwide – and manages more than 250 individuals as the head of the firm’s labor and employment practice. Speights also investigated organizations and recommended improvements to company culture in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

She was named attorney of the year by The American Lawyer Magazine last year.

Before graduating from the law school, where she delivered a commencement address in 2017, Speights attended the University of Pennsylvania.

“Her leading our board is absolutely fabulous in every dimension,” LeBlanc said in an interview Friday. “I am looking forward to working with her more closely and when she assumes the role. I am going to do everything I can in the next few months to help with the transition so it goes smoothly from chair Carbonell to chair Speights.”

Carbonell said Speights has played an important role in Board leadership in her position chairing the governance and nominations committee.

“She’s absolutely the right person for the job,” he said. “I think there was consensus across all of the board members.”

The Board also nominated Ellen Zane for re-election as vice chair and trustee Ave Tucker as secretary.

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