Stacey Plaskett (F’88) Honored with Samuel A. Halsey Jr. Award

Stacey Plaskett, John J. DeGioia, Patrick Healy Awards Dinner

On January 16, Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands) (F’88) was honored with the 2016 Samuel A. Halsey Jr. Award, presented at the annual Patrick Healy Awards Dinner. The award, created in honor of Samuel A. Halsey Jr., the first African American undergraduate of Georgetown University, celebrates the accomplishments of notable African American Georgetown alumni. Past awardees include Malcolm D. Lee (C'92), Marcus Johnson (L’97, MBA’97), and Ronald E. Blaylock (B'82), among others.

“When I found out that I was going to be presented with the Samuel Halsey Jr. Award, it was a tremendous honor. There is nothing like your alma mater giving you an award for your accomplishments, because it is coming from both your peers and from people you have admired and respected for a long time,” she said.

‘Truly Inspired’

As a student, Rep. Plaskett was particularly influenced by one of her Georgetown professors in the School of Foreign Service. “When I had Dr. Gwen Mikell as my anthropology professor, it was the first time I had ever had a Black teacher in my life,” she said. “I was watching a Black woman outside of the traditional places that we see women of color, and yet she completely commanded her knowledge of her field. It truly inspired me.”

After receiving her undergraduate degree, she attended law school at night while working full time during the day with the lobbying arm of the American Medical Association and then with the law firm Jones Day. After law school, she worked as an assistant district attorney in the Bronx, New York, before returning to Washington, D.C., where she served as counsel in several important roles, including the U.S. House of Representatives' Ethics Committee, the Department of Justice, the Terrorism Litigation Task Force, and the September 11th Victims' Compensation Fund. She was also one of the lead attorneys on U.S. v. Phillip Morris.

Later, Rep. Plaskett relocated to her ancestral home, the U.S. Virgin Islands, working first in the private sector and then with the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority. While there, she worked tirelessly to bring economic growth to the development of the territory.

“When I was younger and I would see pictures from the White House, I always thought the people who were on the couch advising the president seemed to be the most interesting,” she explained. Though she wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to do yet, she knew the path she would take to get there.

“My parents explained to me at a young age that although they didn’t have a lot of money--my dad was a New York City cop and my mom worked in court system--my greatest inheritance from them would be my education,” she said.

Community and Service

Currently, Rep. Plaskett represents the at-large district of the U.S. Virgin Islands in the United States House of Representatives and is the 165th Georgetown graduate or faculty member to have served in the U.S. Congress.

“I have found that Georgetown has always advanced two notions: community and service,” said Plaskett. “Some of my closest relationships are people that I’ve met at Georgetown, and I find that so many of us focus on giving to others, whether in our private lives or in the corporate arena.”

In October, Rep. Plaskett helped to kick off Georgetown’s inaugural Black Alumni Summit by taking part in a discussion with President John J. DeGioia and D.C. Public Schools chancellor Kaya Henderson (F’92, EML’07) on the Black alumni experience at Georgetown and how it helped shape their respective careers.

Rep. Plaskett also noted that she was pleased to learn of President DeGioia’s recent announcement of new commitments around Georgetown’s future engagement on race and racial injustice in America.

“To me, this announcement speaks to the fact that Georgetown is really committed to continuing to be part of not just the academic education but also the social education of its students,” she said.

This summer, Rep. Plaskett will speak to participants in the Community Scholars Program during their visit to the Hill. This group is comprised of incoming students, most of whom have significant financial need and are the first in their families to go to college. She will share her experience with students on the many directions in which a Georgetown education can take them and the value of connections that are made here.

“Nearly 20 years later, the people I went to class with are my children’s godparents. The church I visit when I am in the D.C. area is led by Rev. Barry Hargrove (C'88), who was a fellow resident in New North. Also, when I am in town, my roommate, Aleta Williams (F’88), is the same roommate I had as an undergraduate. At Georgetown, I made lifelong friends,” she said.