Stars of the Bar: 2014

WBA Honors Women Stand Together at the 2014 Stars of the Bar

The 2014 Stars of the Bar networking reception was held in the lobby of the beautiful Columbia Square Building at 555 13th Street, NW, Washington, DC, with light hors d'oeuvres and beverages from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and a brief program beginning at 7:00 p.m.

This year, we honored illustrious women leaders who have embodied the theme of Standing Together. Our Stars have shown a commitment to furthering the advancement of women in the profession.. Honorees included: Hon. Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, Judge, District of Columbia Court of Appeals; Mary Reding Smith, President, Military Spouse JD Network; and Leslie T. Thornton, Vice President, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, WGL Holdings, Inc. and Washington Gas Light Company

Hon. Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, Judge, District of Columbia Court of Appeals
Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby was nominated by President George W. Bush to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in August 2006. Judge Blackburne-Rigsby chairs the District of Columbia Courts’ Standing Committee on Fairness and Access, and serves as Co-Chair of the District of Columbia’s Access to Justice Commission.  Judge Blackburne-Rigsby is the President of the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ). Prior to her appointment to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, Judge Blackburne-Rigsby was nominated by President Clinton to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and served from 2000-2006.  Judge Blackburne-Rigsby previously served as a Magistrate Judge on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia from 1995-2000. Judge Blackburne-Rigsby has taught Trial Advocacy at the Harvard Law School and teaches Professional Responsibility as an Adjunct Professor at the David A. Clarke School of Law at the University of the District of Columbia.  She has also taught Continuing Legal Education courses for the District of Columbia Bar.Judge Blackburne-Rigsby has held offices in several judicial organizations.  She is a former Chair of the Washington Bar Association’s Judicial Council.  In addition to her work with the National Association of Women Judges, she also serves as Chair of the Board of Managerial Trustees for the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ).  Through her work with these organizations, Judge Blackburne-Rigsby has sought to promote the rule of law and equal access to justice. 

Mary Reding Smith, President, Military Spouse JD Network
Mary Reding is the founder of the Military Spouse JD Network, a bar association for attorneys married to service-members. After founding the Military Spouse JD Network in 2011, Mary worked tirelessly to support her fellow military spouse attorneys. As President, she grew MSJDN from two members in Summer 2011 to over 1,000 in 2014, meeting hundreds of members in person along the way for coffee and mentorship. With early support from the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession, Mary travelled far and wide to petition state licensing authorities to change rules to make it easier for military spouses to maintain a legal career. She made sure that national legal organizations like the American Bar Association and the Conference of Chief Justices knew the stories and sacrifices of military spouse attorneys. She built relationships with leading military non-profits like the Military Officers Association of America and the National Military Family Association to connect and support more military spouses. MSJDN has grown to include pro bono support for our military widows and their families through a partnership with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. In her professional career, Mary is a Senior Advisor on financial policy for the US Government in Washington, DC. She is the very proud spouse of Lt. Col. John Smith and they have two daughters. 


Leslie T. Thornton, Vice President, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, WGL Holdings, Inc. and Washington Gas Light Company
Leslie T. Thornton has been Vice President and General Counsel of WGL Holdings, Inc. (“WGL”) and Washington Gas Light Company (“Washington Gas”) since January 2, 2012, having joined that company as Counsel to the Chairman in November 2011.  Ms. Thornton is responsible for developing, coordinating, and providing legal advice and counsel to WGL and all its subsidiaries on matters including, but not limited to, litigation, regulatory affairs, business transactions, employment and labor law, employee benefits issues, ethics, compliance, and cyber-threats/cyber-security, among others.  At the chairman’s request, Ms. Thornton also serves on WGL's Strategy Council, Risk Management Committee, Anti-Fraud Committee, and SOX Management Committee. Prior to joining the company, Ms. Thornton served as a partner with the law firm of Dickstein Shapiro LLP in Washington D.C. from 2004 until 2011 and as a partner with the law firm of Patton Boggs, LLP from 2000 to 2004. Beginning with the Presidential Transition of 1992 and until 2000, Ms. Thornton worked with U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, first as Deputy Chief of Staff and Counselor, and then as Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Education (“ED”). Ms. Thornton was selected by the White House in 1995 to serve on the President's White House Budget Working Group when the government shut down, and in 1996 she served in a senior role on President Clinton's presidential debate team.  Also, since 2005 Ms. Thornton has been a member of the board of directors of Career Education Corporation (“CEC”), a publicly traded company, where she is Chair of the Compliance Committee and a member of the Nominating & Governance Committee.  She has recently co-authored a treatise chapter on privacy and security in the 2013 Thomson Reuters/West Law series entitled Successful Partnering Between Inside and Outside Counsel.