Two former general counsel with the School District of Palm Beach County were honored during the 10th annual William M. Holland Scholarship Luncheon on Friday for their contributions to the school system.
Abbey Hairston, who served from 1988 to 1993, was the first African American and female serving in that capacity. Gerald Williams was the first African-American male; he served from November 2005 until his death in May 2010.
The luncheon took place at the National Croquet Center in West Palm Beach.
Hairston is a partner with Thatcher Law, a firm that specializes in labor and employment matters with a specialty in school law. She lives in a Maryland suburb while practicing law in the nation’s capital. While in Palm Beach County, Hairston also served as vice-president of the Florida School Board Attorneys Association and was president of the Executive Women of the Palm Beaches in 1992 – the first black woman in either position.
She was also a member of the executive committee of the Palm Beach County United Way and the F. Malcolm Cunningham Sr. Bar Association throughout her time in South Florida.
Williams served the community in several capacities. He was general counsel for the Virgil Hawkins Florida chapter of the National Bar Association and vice president of the Miami-Dade branch of the NAACP.
He was also co-founder and president of the Suncoast Chamber of Commerce in West Palm Beach and Sire Archon-elect and Grammateus secretary of the Alpha Rho Boule Chapter of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity.
Williams also served on the executive board of the Florida Bar’s Labor & Employment Section, the Florida Bar’s Committee on Judicial Independence and the board of the Florida Lawyers’ Legal Insurance Corporation.
He served also as a member of the executive board of the Urban League of Palm Beach County, the Gulf Stream Council of Boy Scouts of America and the Good Samaritan Hospital in West Palm Beach.
Hairston and Williams were also inducted into the the Palm Beach County Hall of Firsts which honors the first African American judges and attorneys hired to serve in various capacities in the county.
The William M. Holland Scholarship Luncheon is a fundraising event which benefits deserving law graduates from Florida law schools studying for the Florida Bar Examination.