May 30, 2018

Virginia’s First Indian American Judge Receives Dunnaville Award

Rupen ShahThe Honorable Rupen R. Shah of Staunton has been selected for the 2018 Clarence M. Dunnaville Jr. Achievement Award, given by the VSB Diversity Conference to a Virginia lawyer who sets an example that exemplifies the conference’s goal of encouraging diversity and inclusion in the bar, the judiciary, and the legal profession.

Judge Shah, a native of northwest India, was running three restaurants and a newspaper route in Staunton when his wife, Shruti, encouraged him to follow his passion and attend law school. Judge Shah graduated from Syracuse University Law School and went to work as a prosecutor in Augusta County, where he worked for 20 years. In 2017, Shah was elected by the General Assembly to be the district judge for the 25th district, becoming the first Indian American on the bench in the commonwealth.

Edward L. Weiner of Weiner Spivey & Miller in Fairfax, nominated Shah, noting his service to the bar as 2009 “Bar Leader of the Year,” and his role as president of the Augusta County Bar Association. Judge Shah also served as chair of the VSB Diversity Conference and oversaw the Millennium Diversity Initiative.

In the community, Judge Shah personally created and endowed a fund for The Valley’s Children’s Advocacy Center that counsels and assists children who have been victims of sexual crimes. Weiner wrote of Judge Shah, “He exemplifies excellence in promoting and working for diversity and ‘serving the underserved.’ As a role model, Judge Shah lights the way for young people to see the possibilities.”

The Dunnaville Award, which commemorates the life of civil rights leader Clarence M. Dunnaville Jr. and his unceasing devotion to improving diversity and equality in our commonwealth, will be presented on Friday, June 15 at the 80th Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach.