The Presidential Precinct is pleased to announce the receipt of a $50,000 gift from McGuireWoods, given in memory of the late Leigh B. Middleditch, Jr. This generous lead gift will support the Mandela Washington Fellowship’s 2022 Leadership in Civic Engagement Institute at the Presidential Precinct.
The Presidential Precinct has served as a Mandela Washington Fellowship Host Institute each summer since 2014, bringing an annual cohort of 25 emerging leaders from sub-Saharan Africa to Virginia for six weeks of academic coursework, leadership training, networking, and local community service opportunities. The Precinct looks forward to welcoming Fellows back to the communities of Charlottesville and Williamsburg, Virginia during the summer of 2022, following a pandemic-related pause in 2020 and a fully virtual Fellowship in 2021.
“Leigh was among the most dedicated supporters of the Mandela Washington Fellows at the Presidential Precinct”, said Neal Piper, the Precinct’s Executive Director. “He championed our belief that these Fellows and their leadership journeys stand as the key to furthering human rights, good governance, and effective civic engagement across sub-Saharan Africa. We thank Leigh’s colleagues at McGuireWoods for making sure that Leigh’s advocacy for the Fellows will continue on.”
J. Hamilton Lambert, Executive Director of the Claude Moore Charitable Trust where Leigh served on the Board of Trustees, remembered Leigh’s enduring commitment to the programs and ideals that he believed in. “I knew Leigh Middleditch for over thirty years, and I never saw him stray from his beliefs of continually striving to help others and to fight for fairness. His quiet voice of reason will sorely be missed.”
Leigh earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia (UVA) in 1951 and graduated from the UVA School of Law in 1957. His tenure at McGuireWoods began in 1959, and he continued his career with the firm until his retirement in 2018. Leigh received many accolades during his time at McGuireWoods, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Bar Association. He was also repeatedly recognized as a “Lawyer of the Year” by The Best Lawyers in America.
“We are delighted to support this important program, and we are especially pleased to do so in honor of Leigh Middleditch,” said McGuireWoods managing partner Tracy Walker. “Leigh was a pillar of our firm for decades and a role model for generations of lawyers at McGuireWoods, but his greater legacy lies with the community outside our firm. Leigh participated in, supported, and shaped many civic organizations. Of those, the work of the Presidential Precinct and the Mandela Washington Fellowship were particularly important to him, and his legacy will live on through its Fellows.”
Leigh was deeply involved with the Precinct and several of its partner institutions. He was particularly interested in the Mandela Washington Fellowship and engaged continuously with the program from its 2014 beginning until his passing in 2021. He and his wife Betty Lou hosted a dinner at their home for the Fellows from Zimbabwe each year.
Rumbidzai Dube, a Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumna, met Leigh during her 2014 Fellowship and attended one of the dinners that he hosted. Leigh remained in ongoing collaboration with Rumbidzai through the subsequent years. She noted:
“He quickly bought into the idea I had of setting up the Law Hub in Zimbabwe as an online portal for distributing legal information, with an understating that citizens’ access to legal information in simplified forms was a key aspect of access to justice. I am sad he won’t get to see some of the work we have done with the grant he gave us, but that’s his legacy. He invested quietly in ideas he believed in and had no desire to be publicly acknowledged.”
Dzikamai Bere, a Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumnus and recipient of the Precinct’s 2019 Young Leader Award, said of Leigh: “He was a great human being, a caring father, and an active citizen. He taught me what it means to be a citizen – he was available for everyone. He was a humble man, a global citizen who loved beyond his own village. I am blessed to have met Leigh.”
More information on the Presidential Precinct’s 2022 Leadership Institute will be available at presidentialprecinct.org as the summer approaches.
If you are interested in contributing a gift of any size to support the Mandela Washington Fellowship’s 2022 Leadership in Civic Engagement Institute at the Presidential Precinct in memory of Leigh Middleditch, please contact Carrie Jordan, Director of Development at the Presidential Precinct.