With the emergence of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1971, black staffers began receiving new opportunities for professional development both on and off Capitol Hill. Twenty years ago, to accommodate the needs of this growing group of individuals, a hand-full of black lobbyists assembled to create an association to connect, uplift and empower African Americans in the field of government relations. The called themselves the Second Wednesday Group.
David Warr, the Washington representative for the International Trademark Association, remembers the early days. “After completing nearly eight years on the Hill, I couldn’t wait to become a part of the premier black lobbyist organization, the Second Wednesday Group…. As fate would have it, just months after I joined, the group disbanded. I wasn’t about to let that happen. So I called a few fellow lobbyist friends together in an attempt to save the Second Wednesday Group.
“Needless to say,” he went on, “the Group was saved from an untimely death — thanks to the efforts of John Chambers, Sheryl Webber Washington, Adrienne Gray Rhone, Luddy Hayden, Yvonne McIntyre and others. Several months later, and after many rounds of debate over whether the Group should be transformed into a formal versus an informal organizational structure, the Washington Government Relations Group was formed. WGRG, I hope, will continue to inspire and offer support to African American lobbyists as it did for me as I began my career in government relations.”
Currently, WGRG members represent corporations, financial institutions, law firms, trade associations and non-profit organizations on a broad range of policy areas in the state, federal, and international arenas. Tonight, they’re hosting their Second Annual Tin Cup Awards to honor stellar performance in the government relations field.
The event will be 5:30—9 p.m. at The House of Sweden, 2900 K Street NW, in Washington.
Danielle McBeth, WGRG vice president and a partner at Alcalde & Fay, says that “the WGRG Tin Cup Awards Dinner is perhaps the only event of its kind where we honor our peers in the government relations arena. The creation of the event is a testament to the leadership and vision of our President Marcus Sebastian Mason.”
“We are thrilled,” she said, “to have a repeat performance from last year with this Second Annual Tin Cup Awards Dinner, which has sold out and has a lengthy waiting list!”
Reflecting upon tonight’s event and what it symbolizes for the organization, Anita Estell, a Tin Cup Award honoree, shareholder at Polsinelli Shughart, and early founder of WGRG notes that “after approximately two decades in existence, WGRG has established itself as a formidable organization that continues to reshape the Washington lobbying landscape indelibly and profoundly. For those associated with this effort, the successes are significant, holding great promise for the future.”
This year’s Tin Cup Award Honorees include:
Adam Clayton Powell Award (Leadership in Diversity — Member of Congress)
- The Honorable Harry Reid, Majority Leader, U.S. Senate
- The Honorable John Lewis, Senior Chief Deputy Democratic Whip, U.S. House of Representatives
Augustus F. Hawkins Award (Leadership in Diversity — Congressional/Administrative Staff & Lobbyist)
- Jackie Parker, Deputy Legislative Director, Senator Carl Levin
- The Honorable J.C. Watts, Watts Partners
Lucile Harris Bluford Spotlight Award (Journalism Highlighting Efforts in Diversity)
- Donna Byrd, Publisher, TheRoot.com
The Atlas Award
- Joyce Brayboy, Goldman Sachs – Lobbyist of the Year
- Anita Estell, Polsinelli Shughart – Lifetime Achievement
The President’s Award (Career Achievement — Leadership & Excellence)
- Gina Adams, FedEx
- Stephanie Childs, Avaya Communications
- Howlie Davis, CH2MHill
- Reginald Gilliam, Sodexo
- Fred Humphries, Microsoft
- Jake Jones, Daimler
- DeDe Lea, Viacom
- Lucia Riddle, Principal Financial Group
The Washington Government Relations Group is a non-partisan, independent, volunteer association founded to enrich the careers and leadership abilities of African-American government relations professionals.