The WBA Foundation Board of Directors created the WBA Foundation Champion Award in 2022. The purpose of the award is to recognize a devoted WBA Foundation champion.
2022: Marjorie O'Connell
Marjorie is a founding member of the Foundation and was its first president, from 1981 to 1983. She was also involved in forming the National Foundation of Women’s Bar Associations. In the early 1980’s, Marjorie was asked to chair the budget committee for the Women’s Bar Association, to consider new ways to fundraise for the Association. While serving on that committee, Marjorie asked, "Why do we not have a Foundation?" The response was that they had just never had one. Marjorie’s response? “We CAN and we SHOULD!”
Marjorie also served on the board of the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations, and—since she had already started a foundation—she was asked to help establish the NCWBA Foundation in 1984 and went on to lead that organization for years.
Marjorie has served on the ABA House of Delegates for almost three decades. After four years with a major DC law firm, she started her own firm in 1977—O’Connell & Associates—focusing on tax law. That was not without its challenges: she was told by a banker that she needed written permission from her husband and his permission to borrow money to finance the venture. The banker had met his match! Since the early 1970’s, Marjorie has worked with the National Organization of Women’s credit and taxes committee. As co-chair of the committee, Marjorie became involved on the national level, working on the Credit Fairness Act, a federal law making it illegal to discriminate against women when it comes to issuing credit. Ultimately, that banker approved non-collateralized single signature financing for her firm and generations of women have Marjorie to thank for access to credit without a man’s signature.