As I write this column, Lynn Grayson and I are putting the finishing touches on a comprehensive report to the Board of Governors detailing the activities of the Task Force on Diversity during the past two years and offering a plan of action to chart the course for the ISBA’s diversity efforts into the future.
The Task Force was appointed by Past ISBA President Joe Bisceglia in 2007 to develop a Diversity Pipeline initiative and to pursue other activities to promote greater diversity in the Illinois legal community statewide and within the ISBA. When it became apparent that the Task Force could not complete its ambitious agenda in one year, the Task Force was reappointed in 2008 by President Jack Carey.
Under Lynn Grayson’s leadership last year, the Task Force amassed an impressive list of accomplishments, which included: Completion of the first-ever statewide diversity survey; completion of the first-ever diversity survey within the ISBA, including the Board of Governors, Assembly, committees and section councils and professional staff; publication of the Diversity Matters newsletter; and creation of a diversity page within the ISBA’s Web site. An interim report detailing these activities can be found on the diversity Web page at <http://www.isba. org/diversity/index.html>.
The Task Force also made substan- tial progress on a Diversity Pipeline initiative during its first year. As detailed in the interim report, the Pipeline Subcommittee created a blueprint for a comprehensive, integrated, and institutionalized program to help students of diverse backgrounds traverse the educational pipeline into the legal profession. The proposal has several key elements:
(1) exposing elementary, junior high, and high school students to the law through the ISBA’s law-related education program; (2) creating a summer law camp to expose students to a variety of lawyering activities and to educate them about how to prepare for college and law school; (3) outreach and support to students in college and law school through the ISBA’s diversity-related committees and Young Lawyers Committee; and (4) developing a mentoring program for lawyers to help guide aspiring students through each step in the educational system.
During the past year, the Pipeline Subcommittee developed a plan to implement the Future Leaders program with existing ISBA resources and through partnerships with other organizations involved in pipeline activities. The Subcommittee ultimately crafted a multi- year implementation schedule, beginning with a Lawyers in the Classroom component in 2009-2010 and preparations for a law camp in the summer of 2011.
Three other major projects were on the Task Force’s agenda this year:
• Development of a Diversity Matters Award to recognize significant contributions by individuals or organizations in advancing diversity. This proposal won the support of the Scope and Correlation Committee and was before the Board of Governors as this article went to press.
•Development of a plan to reorganize the ISBA’s diversity-related committees, with the collective leadership of these committees forming a Diversity Leadership Council to coordinate committee work and outreach efforts. This proposal was also supported by Scope and Correlation and is before the Board of Governors.
•Development of a proposal for a Diversity Leadership Program to increase diversity within the ISBA by annually selecting five to ten lawyers from diverse backgrounds to serve as Leadership Fellows. Fellows would be appointed to the ISBA section council or committee of their choice and paired with an established com- mittee member who would serve as the Fellow’s mentor. The Task Force recommended that details of the pro- gram be refined in 2009-2010 by the Diversity Leadership Council, assum- ing that the Council is established as set forth in the restructuring proposal.
To find out more about these propos- als and other recommendations in the Task Force’s Diversity Action Plan, look for the Task Force’s full report on the ISBA’s diversity Web page later this summer.
It has been my privilege to serve as the Task Force’s chair this year. As Lynn Grayson noted in her column last year, the Task Force has pulled together an amazing group of attorneys with a shared vision of more diverse legal profession. The accomplishments set forth above are a direct result of the hard work, creativity, collegiality, and persistence of this extraordinary collective, whose names appear inside this newsletter. I thank them for sharing their talents and dedication to this project.
I would also like to thank the ISBA’s leadership for its support and ISBA’s pro- fessional staff for its guidance and assis- tance. It is hard to believe that three years have passed since Past President Irene Bahr first discussed with me her vision of pursuing a pipeline initiative during her term. Each ISBA President since then— Joseph Bisceglia, Jack Carey, and this year’s President-Elect John O’Brien—has enthusiastically embraced and support- ed the Task Force’s work, as have ISBA Executive Director Robert Craghead and Staff Liaison Janet Sosin.
I have great optimism that the foun- dation we have laid during the past several years will ultimately lead to greater diversity both within the ISBA and in the legal profession as a whole.
ISBA Task Force on Diversity
E. Lynn Grayson, Chicago, Chair David W. Austin, Chicago Karina Ayala-Bermejo, Chicago Larry Baldwin, Cairo
Patrice Ball-Reed, Chicago Thomas A. Clancy, Chicago Andrew P. Fox, Chicago Cynthia Greenleaf, Chicago Venu Gupta, Chicago Leslie A. Hairston, Chicago Patrick J. Kronenwetter, Glen Ellyn
Claire A. Manning, Springfield Raquel G. Martinez, Chicago James D. Montgomery, Chicago Hon. Leonard Murray, Chicago Cheryl Niro, Chicago
Alice M. Noble-Allgire, Carterville Jane D. Pigott, Chicago Tracy L. Prosser, Benton Gwendolyn Y. Rowan, Chicago Francine S. Soliunas, Chicago Sonni C. Williams, Peoria Zeophus J. Williams, Tinley Park Janet M. Sosin, Chicago, Staff Liaison
Alice M. Noble-Allgire, Carterville, Chair E. Lynn Grayson, Chicago, Ex-Officio David W. Austin, Chicago Karina Ayala-Bermejo, Chicago
Patrice Ball-Reed, Chicago Thomas A. Clancy, Chicago William T. Eveland, Chicago Andrew P. Fox, Chicago Venu Gupta, Chicago Leslie A. Hairston, Chicago Ebony R. Huddleston, Godfrey Kathryn A. Kelly, Chicago Patrick J. Kronenwetter, Glen Ellyn Raquel G. Martinez, Chicago
Hon. Leonard Murray, Chicago Cheryl Niro, Chicago Jane D. Pigott, Chicago Tracy L. Prosser, Benton