John Grisham Receives 2024 Outstanding Virginian Award

Grisham and Solomon
John Grisham (left) with Dean Ian Solomon at the Virginia State Capitol.

Philanthropist and best-selling author John Grisham has been named as the 2024 recipient of the Outstanding Virginian Award. The General Assembly established the award to honor recipients whose distinguished contributions, outstanding achievements and dedicated leadership serve as an inspiration to all civic-minded citizens of the commonwealth. 

Grisham was honored yesterday at a luncheon at the Virginia State Capitol attended by members of the Outstanding Virginian Committee, including Ian Solomon, dean of the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia.  

“John exemplifies the leadership skill of shaping the ideas, the feelings and the imaginations of people around the globe. He held public office for two terms in Mississippi, and has continued to hold our attention through three decades of brilliant storytelling,” Solomon said. “It is truly an honor to recognize John with the Outstanding Virginian Award.” 

A native of Mississippi, Grisham received his law degree from the University of Mississippi and practiced law in his hometown where he served primarily working-class clients, often on a pro-bono basis. The experience gave him an understanding for the need for a strong legal aid system. In 1983, he was elected to the state legislature where he focused on education reform, elections, public health and the criminal justice system. In his second term, he was vice-chair of the Apportionment and Elections Committee and served on several other committees as well.  

A natural and gifted storyteller, Grisham began writing fiction in the late 1980s, and has since published dozens of best-selling legal thrillers, several of which have been adapted to film including The Firm, The Client, The Pelican Brief, The Rainmaker and The Runaway Jury. 

When he is not writing, he serves on the board of the Innocence Project in New York and the Centurion Ministries in Princeton, and on the Leaders Council of the Legal Services Corporation. He and his wife, Renee Grisham, are active in several organizations dedicated to eradicating childhood hunger. The couple moved to Albemarle County 30 years ago, where he is heralded by the local community for building baseball and softball fields that serve hundreds of youth each year. 

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Grisham received OVA
Grisham receives the Outstanding Virginian Award from Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears as OVA committee member Charlie Seilheimer and state Senator Creigh Deeds look on. 


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