The trophy, given to those who bring “honor and dignity” to writers, will be presented at the WGA East Coast ceremonies on Feb. 1 in New York City.
Schamus was nominated for an Oscar for “Crouching Tiger,” Hidden Dragon” and won the best screenplay award at Cannes in 1997 for “The Ice Storm.”
Schamus departed from Focus as president in October as part of a restructuring.
The WGA East noted in the announcement that as the co-founder of Focus, Schamus championed writers with original voices and projects that tackled thought-provoking subject matter such as “Brokeback Mountain,” “Milk,” “Lost in Translation” and “Dallas Buyer’s Club.”
Burkey helped create the Writers Guild of America East in 1953 and was the executive director until her retirement in 1972.
“As a writer, teacher and studio executive, James Schamus has honored the art of screenwriting and championed the work of his colleagues with commitment and taste, making him an excellent choice to receive the Burkey Award,” said WGA East president Michael Winship. “As a friend and associate, I am especially delighted that James is receiving this honor. The films he has written and overseen combine great style and substance, entertainment and purpose.”