George W. Madison ’80
As the former general counsel at the Department of the Treasury, George W. Madison ’80 oversaw a staff of 2,000 lawyers and served as a key policy adviser to the Treasury secretary
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
The greatest influence in my life has been my grandmother, Dr. Lena F. Edwards, whose commitment to public service and to minority communities has always inspired me. She was a pioneer for both women and African-Americans, as one of the first African-American women to graduate from Howard Medical School in the early 1920s. For decades, as an ob/gyn, she provided health care services to minority communities in New Jersey and Washington, D.C., and she built, funded, and staffed a 25-bed hospital in Hereford, Texas, for Mexican migrant workers. In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of her work. Throughout her life, she championed the cause of public service.
How do you define success?
When people care enough about you to impact your life positively; and you have the good sense to do the same for others.
Why did you go to law school?
In high school, I became enthralled with the study of American history, the U.S. Constitution and its architects, and the pivotal role of lawyers in the founding and preservation of the Republic. I was most impressed with the process by which grand ideas were enshrined in the Constitution, alongside flawed compromises. It struck me as the paradox of liberty: slavery and freedom, discrimination and justice. I viewed lawyering as the noble profession at the crossroads of the protection of fundamental rights and social change, breathing life into the more perfect union envisioned by President Lincoln.
Who is your favorite lawyer of all time?
This one is easy: Thurgood Marshall. Like my grandmother, he was the grandchild of slaves who used his knowledge of the imperfect system and his core belief in the rule of law to combat the searing effects of discrimination and peacefully effectuate societal change in the public interest.
Finish this sentence: You wouldn’t catch me dead without . . .
My iPhone and my copy of the U.S. Constitution.
One thing you absolutely must do before you die?
The list is very, very long, professionally and personally, but one thing can be crossed off: a Presidential appointment after confirmation by the U.S. Senate (unanimously) to serve as general counsel of the U.S. Treasury.
Thing for which you are most thankful?
In addition to my family, I have been blessed with an enormously diverse and satisfying career, filled with wonderful clients and exceptional mentors, and an opportunity to serve the American people in a critical role at one of the most consequential times in the economic history of the nation.