June 2019Volume 12Number 1PDF icon PDF version (for best printing)

From the president: Diversity matters

James F. McCluskey

In the beginning of my presidential year at my installation, I quipped that Vince Cornelius was the first African-American president of the Illinois State Bar Association, Umberto Davi was the first immigrant president of the Illinois State Bar Association, and I had the pleasure of being installed as the 102nd Irish American president. Although this was stated in jest, it sent a definite message that the Illinois State Bar Association needed diversity in order to endure and survive.

This year for the first time, the process for the president’s selection of a diversity board member changed. Based upon a newly adopted policy by the Board of Governors, we worked in collaboration with the Diversity Leadership Council to select a well-qualified diversity candidate for the Board of Governors. We were able to accomplish this positive step towards a more inclusive ISBA this year. The Board now consists of a majority who are women and members of color.

The ISBA, which has talked the talk for years, is actually walking the walk.

Diversity, in my mind, is not only based upon gender and ethnic background, but also age, religion, and sexual identity. However, the most important factor of diversity is that there must be diversity of thought, no matter the ethnic, gender, or sexual identity of a person. Only with diversity of experience, skills, and independent thoughts can the ISBA be more successful in the years to come. Every member can contribute to the mission of the ISBA. The mission’s focus is to assist Illinois lawyers in the practice of law and to promote improvements in the administration of justice. Unless we embrace the contributions of thoughts and ideas of all members of the ISBA, this mission cannot be fulfilled.

I hope all future leaders of the ISBA embrace these ideals.

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