Original Female Cadet to Speak at VMI Graduation

Gussie Lord portrait

LEXINGTON, Va., Dec. 19, 2022—Virginia Military Institute will confer 22 degrees to cadets at its December commencement ceremony on Wednesday, Dec. 21 at 11:00 a.m. in Memorial Hall on post. 

To commemorate this year being the 25th anniversary of VMI’s first co-educational class, the commencement speaker will be Gussie Lord ’01, a member of the first class of females to attend the Institute. She currently serves on the VMI Board of Visitors, and is chairperson of the Academic Affairs Committee and sits on the Audit, Finance, and Planning committee, as well as the Nominating/Governance Committee.

Lord is founder and managing attorney of the Tribal Partnerships Program at Earthjustice, a nonprofit public interest environmental law organization where she represents Indian tribes and Indigenous communities in their efforts to protect the environment and sacred sites. Prior to joining Earthjustice, Lord worked at the New Mexico Court of Appeals. She also spent several years in private practice representing tribes in environmental, administrative, and jurisdictional matters, and representing public housing authorities in efforts to expand affordable housing opportunities.

She graduated with distinction from VMI with a degree in English, with a concentration in writing. Lord was a member of the Institute’s NCAA cross country and track and field teams. She also participated in cheerleading, soccer, the Promaji Club, and served as opinion editor of The Cadet newspaper and co-editor of the Sounding Brass. She graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 2006. She is a member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, and currently resides in Potomac, Maryland.

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