The National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) will present its national Challenge Award next week to Northrop Grumman Corporation, and its annual Leadership Award to U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler of the District of Columbia.

Accepting the award for Northrop Grumman will be general counsel Sheila Cheston, who oversees all company legal matters and is a member of its corporate policy council.

“On behalf of the Northrop Grumman law department, and Northrop Grumman, it’s an honor to accept this award from the National Association of Women Lawyers,” Cheston told “I’m proud to work in a company and lead a law department that is committed to diversity and inclusion and understands the great value it brings to our business.”

NAWL said in a statement, “Northrop Grumman and Judge Kessler embody the mission of NAWL and inspire continued efforts for women’s equality, recognition, and opportunity.”

NAWL said the award goes to a corporate legal department that has adopted policies to meet the NAWL Challenge—that by 2015, women will represent 30 percent of law firm equity partners, 30 percent of chief legal officers and 30 percent of tenured law school faculty members.

Cheston, who joined the company in 2010, has built a legal department in which half the leadership team—five of 10 vice presidents—are women.

She also boasts a distinguished legal career. In 1994, Cheston was special associate counsel to President Bill Clinton, and she served as general counsel of the U.S. Air Force from March 1995 to October 1998.

After leaving government service, she became a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, where she chaired the firm’s international aviation, defense and aerospace group. In 2003, she became general counsel of BAE Systems, leaving that company to become general counsel at rival Northrop Grumman in June 2010.

Judge Kessler is a founding member and the first president of the Women’s Legal Defense Fund, as well as a member and former president of the National Association of Women Judges.

She receives NAWL’s Leadership Award, which recognizes individuals in the community whose personal contributions have helped to advance women lawyers and to promote diversity in the legal profession.

NAWL will present the awards at the group’s midyear meeting next week in Washington, D.C.

“NAWL is honored to be presenting these awards in recognition of their extraordinary contributions to the advancement of women in the legal profession,” the statement said.