Special Honors 2023

Recap: 2023 WABJ Special Honors & Scholarship Gala

WABJ successfully hosted another sold-out, Special Honors & Scholarship Gala on Saturday, Dec. 2. with a crowd of more than 300 media professionals, newsmakers and supporters at Armour J. Blackburn Center on the campus of Howard University.

We presented awards to seven distinguished professionals and an organization for excellence in journalism, communications, newsroom leadership, and community service:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award – Pat Lawson Muse (retired news anchor, NBC4 Washington)
  • Journalist of the Year – Kristen Welker (moderator, NBC News’ “Meet the Press”)
  • Legacy Award – Sonya Ross (founder and editor in chief, Black Women Unmuted)
  • Young Journalist of Excellence Award – Phil Lewis (senior front page editor, HuffPost)
  • Excellence in Communications Award – Erica Loewe (chief of staff, White House Office of Public Engagement)
  • President’s Award – Denise Rolark Barnes (publisher, The Washington Informer)


DC News Now’s Anna-Lysa Gayle and WUSA9’s Lorenzo Hall served as emcees for the organization’s second annual gala. Hall is an alumnus of WABJ’s annual Urban Journalism Workshop for DC area high school students, which is now in its 37th year.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha N. Braveboy, and National Association of Black Journalists Co-Founders Sam Ford, Allison Davis and Joe Davidson were among the night’s special guests. Others included Dorothy Butler Gilliam, who in 1961 became the first African American female reporter at The Washington Post, and Dr. Sheila Brooks, the founder and CEO of SRB Communications.

A special tribute was made to Ford, who is retiring at the end of this month. He is currently the DC bureau chief for WJLA/ABC7 after working at the station for 36 years. He’s been a broadcaster for 50 years.

In addition, WABJ also awarded $5,000 in academic scholarships at the gala to two local college students.

WABJ is genuinely grateful for the enthusiasm surrounding this annual event and fundraiser that aims to sustain our scholarship programs for aspiring journalists, year-round professional development activities, and community initiatives. 

There are several ways for members of the general public to contribute to help make a lasting impact. Click HERE to learn about our various funding areas. WABJ is a 501(c)(3) tax-deductible organization. Receipts will be provided. 

For information on sponsorship/partnership opportunities for 2024, please email WABJ President Khorri Atkinson at president@wabjdc.org