Monthly Archives: June 2017

Diversity Conference Chair’s welcome (Invictus)

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Dear Virginia State Bar Diversity Conference Members and Friends,  

I am honored and humbled to serve as the Chair of the Virginia State Bar Diversity Conference for fiscal year 2016-2017.  I follow a strong legacy of leaders who have laid the foundation for furthering the Diversity Conference’s mission of 1) fostering and encouraging diversity and inclusion in admission to the bar, advancement in the profession, and in the judiciary; 2) facilitating diversity and inclusion in professional leadership opportunities; and 3) ensuring that Virginians’ changing legal needs are met. Over the years, like other organizations with a similar mission, the Diversity Conference has faced numerous challenges and perceived setbacks.  However, I am encouraged that we can look back and say that we are better because of the trials that we overcame together to make the Diversity Conference what it is today.  Throughout it all, the Diversity Conference’s leadership and members have been an encouragement and resource to lead the way for the future.

This is a very unique and rewarding year for the Diversity Conference as it is our first year as a funded Conference of the Virginia State Bar (“VSB”).  Prior to this year, the Diversity Conference survived as a result of successful sponsorship and grant initiatives, as well as many generous out-of-pocket contributions from Board members. This critical financial status change has enabled the Diversity Conference the opportunity to think more strategically about how we can best serve within the Commonwealth of Virginia moving forward.  Upon receipt of this wonderful news, the Diversity Conference’s Board of Governors tasked itself with outlining several new and continuing programs that align with both the Diversity Conference’s mission stated above and the VSB’s mission that includes, but is not limited to, advancing the availability and quality of legal services provided to the people of Virginia and assisting in improving the legal profession and the judicial system.  Some of these programs include:

  • CLE at the Conference of Local Bar Association’s Solo and Small Firm Practitioner Forum: Understanding Diversity: The Changing Realities and Considerations in the Practice of Law in the Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Co-sponsor of the following CLE’s at the 2017 VSB Annual Meeting:  Grace and Justice on Death Row; How Attorneys Can Promote and Advance Access to Justice; Autism and the Practice of Law
  • Law School Mentor/Mentee Initiative at the 2017 VSB Annual Meeting
  • 7th Annual Fore Diversity Golf Tournament at the 2017 VSB Annual Meeting
  • 2017 Oliver Hill/Samuel Tucker Pre-Law Institute

For more information about these programs and other initiatives, please visit the VSB Diversity Conference website at

As we move into a new year, the Diversity Conference has its eyes set on, among other things, strengthening its membership involvement, establishing a signature program/event, and continuing to partner with like-minded organizations with an emphasis on advancing our mission and respective goals.  

I look forward to continue to serve as a champion for diversity and inclusion in the legal profession in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  If you have any suggestions as to how the Diversity Conference can better serve our legal community, please do not hesitate to contact me. 



Autism Speaks U brings Autism Awareness to Colleges and Universities

The Autism Speaks U program supports students, faculty members and alumni in their awareness and fundraising efforts to support Autism Speaks and its mission. Autism Speaks is enhancing lives today and accelerating a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow. Since its inception at Penn State in 2006, Autism Speaks U has raised millions of dollars to help fund the mission of Autism Speaks through student-organized events and Walk Teams.

Our chapters, led by their president(s) and vice president(s), are made up of students on the spectrum, students who have family members or friends on the spectrum, or students who want to make a difference in the autism community. Throughout the semester, chapters:

  • Have one-on-one advisement calls with the Student Initiatives Team in the beginning of each semester
  • Attend three webinars hosted by Student Initiatives
  • Host fundraising events, volunteer within their local autism community, and host other events to provide a greater understanding and acceptance of autism
  • Fill out a semester report to summarize the work they did and provide feedback on the Autism Speaks U program and how it can continue to grow.

Autism Speaks’ Mission

Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. We do this through advocacy and support; increasing understand and acceptance of autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. Through partnerships and collaboration, we are committed to:

  • Increasing global understanding and acceptance of autism
  • Being a catalyst for research breakthroughs
  • Increasing early-childhood screening &  timely interventions
  • Improving the transition to adulthood
  • Ensuring access to reliable information & services throughout the life span

If you’d like to start an Autism Speaks U chapter at your college/university, please register at For more information on the program in general, please reach out to David Berenbaum, Sr. Coordinator, Student Initiatives, at

KPMG Foundation Business Higher Ed Initiatives

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The KPMG Foundation:

Creating a Pipeline to Diversity in Business through Higher Education

Since 1968, the KPMG Foundation has been exploring, supporting and developing programs to enhance and improve business higher education. The Foundation seeks to bring about systemic change in business and society-specifically, an increase in the diversity of ideas. That’s why they invest in business education and volunteerism at all levels, over the long term. Their programs aimed at business higher education include competitive faculty research grants, endowed scholarships and professorships, faculty professional development and many others (see side bar history). Their Matching Gift program is used strategically by conducting campus specific campaigns that restrict the aggregate giving to those areas that address the most critical needs of the university business school, and resonate with the passions and interests of the KPMG employees and partners who contribute to the campaigns.

Over 23 years ago, the KPMG Foundation became the creator, primary funder, and driving force behind The PhD Project, one of the most far-reaching and ambitious programs ever conceived to address the under-representation of African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and Native Americans in business, higher education, and the corporate workforce.  A landmark effort, The PhD Project aims to put more minorities on business school faculties, which will attract more minority students and create greater diversity among future business school graduates thereby increasing the pool of diverse candidates available to employers.

When the PhD Project began in 1994, there were just 294 minority business school professors (1% of all business school professors) in the U. S.  Today, that number has quadrupled to over 1,350 with 270 minority doctoral students on their way to becoming professors, and these numbers are increasing every day. Fewer than 60 of the over 1,600 business programs have a dean that is either African American, Hispanic American or Native American. The PhD Project is addressing that through conducting professional development programs and engagement with search firms.

Because of its success and the obvious, long-term need for such a program, The PhD Project became a separate 501©(3) public charity, with the Foundation continuing to be the lead Sponsor, which includes cash and the cost to provide all of the required administration.  

After creating The PhD Project, the Foundation focused on supporting programs that impacted the flow of minority students to college. Our KPMG Families for Literacy focuses on grades K-3 almost exclusively for disadvantaged students at inner city schools. KPMG’s support for Junior Achievement Finance Park addresses financial literacy at middle schools again with a heavy involvement toward the underserved. The Foundation has supported the National Academies Foundation for many years, where students in under resourced high schools attend career academies while fulfilling standard high school curricula that prepares them for college.

These programs, combined with support of The PhD Project, represent over 40% of the KPMG Foundation’s discretionary grant budget. It is obvious that KPMG and the KPMG Foundation are very serious about diversity.



Over the years, the KPMG Foundation has provided support and direction to a number of initiatives which have greatly impacted business higher education. This list highlights those programs, many of which are still supported by the Foundation.


Foundation Inception
Matching Gift Program

Direct Grants


KPMG Professorships


Research Opportunities in Auditing



Research Fellowships


Doctoral Scholarships
Consortium for Graduate Study in Management


Research Opportunities in International Business Information
Tax Research Opportunities

Faculty Fellowships


Minority Accounting Doctoral Scholarships
Historically Black Colleges and Universities


The PhD Project
The PhD Project Accounting Doctoral Students Association


The PhD Project Information Systems Doctoral Students Association
Points of Light Institute


The PhD Project Finance, Management and Marketing Doctoral Students Associations
Minority Information Systems Doctoral Scholarships

National KPMG Employee Volunteer Program


The PhD Project Association (launched as a 501©(3) Public Charity)


KPMG’s National Audit Case Competition Program


The PhD Project AHEAD – Achieving Higher Education Administration Diversity – is launched to encourage tenured minority faculty to explore positions in administration


National Academy Foundation (NAF)


Junior Achievement Finance Park (JA)


The PhD Project Faculty Alumni Association Sessions added to summer programming


KPMG Families for Literacy

Judge Shah Elected to the Bench

Congratulations Judge Shah!

Former Diversity Conference Chair Judge Rupen Shah was elected to the Augusta County District Court and began his six year term on February 1. Here, he is photographed with former Virginia State Bar President Ed Weiner.  Judge Shah served as president of the Augusta County Bar Association and was recognized by the Virginia State Bar as a local leader of the year 2009.