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Richard Bland College Announces Esteemed Judge Cleo Powell Commencement Speaker

Justice Cleo E. Powell, who has served on the Supreme Court of Virginia since 2011, will deliver the keynote address at Richard Bland College of William & Mary’s 58th Commencement Ceremony on May 20, 2021. Due to the global coronavirus pandemic, this year’s ceremony will be held virtually.

Justice Powell is a powerful role model and inspiration for RBC’s 2021 graduates,” said President Debbie Sydow. “The College is honored to have her deliver this year’s Commencement address.”

Before her appointment to the Supreme Court of Virginia, Justice Powell was a labor and employment law associate at Hunton & Williams from 1982-1986. She served as Senior Assistant Attorney General for the Equal Employment Opportunity and Personnel Section from 1986-1989 in the Office of the Virginia Attorney General. Justice Powell began her judicial career on the Chesterfield/Colonial Heights General District Court in 1993.

Graduation is a special time,” said Justice Powell. “It is a time for looking back and simultaneously looking forward. It is a time to reflect on the past and to anticipate the future. I look forward to sharing this special time with each of the Richard Bland College graduates.”

Justice Powell is a recipient of numerous awards, including Virginia Women in History (2013); Strong Men & Women Excellence in Leadership (2011); Virginia Women Attorneys Association 2010 Leader in Diversity; Virginia Lawyers Weekly Influential Women of Virginia (2010); Metro Richmond Women’s Bar Association, Woman of the Year 2009; and the YWCA’s Outstanding Women of the Year (2001).

Justice Powell received her undergraduate degree, with distinction, from the University of Virginia and her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.



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