History & Purpose

Past MWLA Presidents

Terms(s) Name
1976-1977 Martha Gerald
1977-1983 No Information Available
1983-1984 Zenora Williams
1984-1985 Suzanna Baker
1985-1986 Julie Sneed
1986-1987 Anna Furr
1987-1988 No Information Available
1988-1989 Lynn Fitch
1989-1990 Joy Lambert Phillips
1990-1991 Leyser Q. Hayes
1991-1992 Linda Thompson
1992-1993 LeeAnn Neely
1993-1994 Betty Ruth Fox
1994-1995 Sandra Shelson
1996-1997 Susan R. Tsimortos
1997-1998 Kristina M. Johnson
1998-1999 Kellye R. Piro
1999-2000 Alleen McLain
2000-2001 Deanna Mosley
2001-2002 Christi Carroll
2002-2003 Aileen S. McNeill
2003-2004 Debra M. Brown
2004-2005 Mary Jacq Easley
2005-2006 Latoya Merritt
2006-2007 Latoya Merritt
2007-2008 Mary Clay W. Morgan
2008-2009 Amanda Green Alexander
2009-2010 Tiffany M. Graves
2010-2011 Melissa T. Carleton
2011-2012 Jennie S. Pitts
2012-2013 Tami L. Munsch
2013-2014 Jessica Dupont
2014-2015 Greta L. Kemp
2015-2016 Brandi D. Gatewood
2016-2017 Wendy H. Ellard
2017-2018 Catoria Martin
2018-2019 Jessica Murray
2019-2020 Catherine Bell
2020-2021 Ellen Patton Robb

Past Lifetime Award Winners

Year Name
2007 Justice Kay Cobb
2008 Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander
2009 Magistrate Judge Linda R. Anderson
2010 Judge Mary Libby Payne
2011 Shirley Norwood-Jones
2012 Prof. Carol West (posthumously)
2013 Constance Slaughter-Harvey
2014 Vicki Slater
2015 Cindy Mitchell
2016 Margaret Ellis
2017 Pshon Barrett
2018 Dean Patricia Bennett
2019 La’Verne Edney

Past OWLA Winners

Year Name
1995 Dr. Carolyn Ellis Stanton
1996 Pat Flynn
1997 Dr. Mary Ann Connell
1998 Justice Lenore Prather
1999 Judge Mary Libby Payne
2000 Amy Whitten
2001 Constance Slaughter-Harvey
2002 Prof. Patricia Bennett
2003 Margaret Williams
2004 Collette Oldmixon
2005 Prof. Deborah Bell
2006 Joy Lambert-Phillips
2007 Sharon D. Bridges
2008 Christy D. Jones
2009 Patti Gandy
2010 Judy Guice
2011 La’Verne Edney
2012 Lynn Fitch
2013 Tiffany Graves
2014 Justice Ann Lamar
2015 Amanda Alexander
2016 Rebecca Wiggs
2017 Judge Latrice Westbrooks
2018 Judge Tiffany Grove
2019 Jennie Eichelberger

History & Purpose of MWLA

Mississippi Women Lawyers Association (“MWLA”) is comprised of women representing all facets of the legal profession including private, corporate, and government practice, judiciary, academia, and law students. MWLA was founded in 1976 by a group of thirty women attorneys from throughout the State of Mississippi to enhance and develop the image of lawyers in Mississippi, promote fellowship among the members of the legal community, and advance women in the legal profession. Today, there are approximately 1500 women lawyers practicing in Mississippi in all sectors of the profession, many of whom are members of MWLA. Community involvement and philanthropy are significant parts of MWLA’s involvements. The Association emphasizes the importance of the attorney’s role in giving back to the community through projects that benefit charitable organizations, the provision of scholarships to outstanding law students, and pro bono work. The Association also awards the Martha Gerald/MWLA scholarship in honor of MWLA’s first president, Martha Gerald, to female law students at the University of Mississippi School of Law and the Mississippi College School of Law.

MWLA is proud of its Outstanding Woman Lawyer Award, given annually to honor the Mississippi female lawyer who has demonstrated the greatest accomplishments during the previous year.  Prior recipients include Dr. Carolyn Ellis Staton (1995), Pat Flynn (1996), Dr. Mary Ann Connell (1997), Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Lenore Prather (1998), Mississippi Court of Appeals Judge Mary Libby Payne (1999), Amy Whitten (2000), Constance Slaughter-Harvey (2001), Professor Patricia Bennett (2002), Margaret Williams (2003), Colette Oldmixon (2004), Professor Deborah Bell (2005), Joy Lambert-Phillips (2006), Sharon D. Bridges (2007), Christy D. Jones (2008), Patti Gandy (2009), Judy Guice (2 010), La’Verne Edney (2011), Lynn Fitch (2012), Tiffany Graves (2013), and Justice Ann Lamar (2014), Amanda Green Alexander (2015), and Rebecca Wiggs (2016).

In 2007, MWLA began the tradition of nominating a Lifetime Achievement Award, given annually to honor a Mississippi female lawyer has served as a trailblazer for women in the profession. Prior recipients include Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Kay Cobb (2007), U.S. Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander (2008), U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda R. Anderson (2009), MS Court of Appeals Judge Mary Libby Payne (2010), Retired Professor Shirley Norwood Jones (2011), Professor Carol West posthumously (2012), Constance Slaughter-Harvey (2013), and Vicki Slater (2014), Cynthia “Cindy” Mitchell (2015), and Margaret Ellis (posthumously) (2016).

Membership in MWLA also provides a unique means for fellowship and networking with other members, including bi-monthly lunch meetings from September to May with speakers on various topics, and gathering for socials. MWLA has also sponsored networking events with other women professionals, including a joint luncheon meeting with the Mississippi women legislators. The Association actively seeks opportunities to network with women in other professions. MWLA is proud of its accomplishments over the years, its renewed vitality and growth in the past several years, and the goals that it can achieve in the years to come.