March 15, 2022

Williams College Establishes Social and Racial Justice Fellowship in Honor of Gordon Davis

3 min

Washington, DC (March 15, 2022) – Venable LLP is pleased to announce that Williams College has established a social and racial justice fellowship in honor of Gordon J. Davis, an alumnus who is a partner in the firm’s New York Real Estate Group. The fellowship provides an opportunity for students to advance racial and social justice in American society, and to restore the environment and protect constitutional democracy.

The Gordon J. Davis ’63 Social and Racial Justice Fellowship is designed to be flexible, allowing students to propose internships, research projects, partnerships with community-based organizations, community service, and other opportunities, provided that the specific focus is on racial or other social justice issues and expressions. Students may propose opportunities that are located in or beyond their home communities, or take advantage of local, regional, or national opportunities. In some instances, engaging in international opportunities may be possible. The Davis Center provides oversight for the selection process and administers the awards upon selection. The Gordon J. Davis Social and Racial Justice Fellowships are generously funded by classmates James B. Blume ’63 and Harry R. Hagey ’63.

Mr. Davis said, “It is a great honor to be recognized by Williams College in this way. My family has a rich history of advancing civil rights and social justice issues within the Williams community and beyond. It is my hope that this fellowship will provide students with both the inspiration and resources they require to continue this legacy and effect meaningful change throughout our society for years to come.”

Mr. Davis has been a prominent leader in New York City's public, civic, and legal affairs for four decades. Reared on Chicago’s South Side, he is the son of W. Allison Davis ‘24 and the nephew of John A. Davis ‘33, extraordinary African American brothers for whom the Davis Center at Williams College is named. He was one of only four Black students his first year at Williams. During his time at the college, he was a member of the basketball team, a junior advisor, vice president of the Gargoyle Society, a co-founder of the Williams College Civil Rights Committee, and a signatory of the Grinnell Petition, which led to the abolition of fraternities in his senior year. Mr. Davis went on to attend Harvard Law School (‘67), where he was a principal founder of the Harvard Black Law Student Association—the first BALSA chapter in the country.

Mr. Davis began his career as an assistant to New York City Mayor John V. Lindsay. After serving as a commissioner of the New York City Planning Commission, he was appointed by Mayor Ed Koch as commissioner of parks and recreation in 1978 and is considered the city's most successful parks commissioner of the modern era. He was one of the first African Americans to become a partner in a major New York corporate law firm in 1983, and subsequently spearheaded efforts to compel New York’s major law firms to hire and promote significant numbers of Black and traditionally underrepresented lawyers (the Vance Committee). Since 2012, Mr. Davis has been a New York resident partner at Venable LLP, where he counsels nonprofit organizations and cultural institutions, notable public/private developments, and major New York revitalization projects on various real estate and financing issues.


Venable LLP is an American Lawyer Global 100 law firm headquartered in Washington, DC that serves as primary counsel to a worldwide clientele of large and mid-sized organizations, nonprofits, high-net-worth entrepreneurs, and other individuals. With more than 850 professionals across the country, including in California, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Virginia, and Washington, DC, the firm strategically advances its clients' objectives in the United States and around the globe. Venable advises clients on a broad range of business and regulatory law, legislative affairs, complex litigation, and the full range of intellectual property disciplines. For more information, please visit