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 http://www.vsb.org/site/conferences/dc.
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.