(written by Alisha Juran and CLI)
“All persons held as slaves are and henceforward shall be free.”
While slavery ended with these words written by Abraham Lincoln during his famous Emancipation Proclamation, slaves living in Texas would not experience freedom until over two years later.
Juneteenth’s origin dates back to Galveston, Texas in the summer of 1865. On June 19th, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston to tell enslaved African Americans that they were free, the civil war was over, and that President Lincoln had ended slavery. Juneteenth marks the celebration of the emancipation from slavery where every slave could finally be free.
The Emancipation Proclamation did not free enslaved people right away. They had to rely on union soldiers to travel from town to town and make sure slave owners were not violating the law and holding slave’s captive, contrary to the very essence of the Emancipation Proclamation. There were not enough union soldiers in Texas to enforce the freeing of enslaved peoples and because of this, during the war, many slave owners sought refuge in Texas. The slave owners attempted to evade the Emancipation Proclamation at every turn. They believed that the lack of union presence in Texas and lack of battles would allow them to disregard the President’s Proclamation and continue to illegally enslave.
When President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in January of 1863, it only applied to enslaved people under the confederacy, not bordering states that stayed loyal to the union. Four states in particular, Maryland, Missouri, Kentucky, and Delaware, had not seceded from the union and were therefore exempt from the proclamation. The Emancipation Proclamation was not a grand speech given by the president and seen by all, instead it was printed and disseminated in slave-owning states slowing the spread of information to slaves in lower parts of the south, including Texas. Even though slave owners knew of the Emancipation Proclamation, the fall of the confederacy, and the end of the war, many kept this vital information from their slaves.
The first formal celebration of Juneteenth did not take place until the summer of 1866. Freedmen gathered in Texas with their families to celebrate with music, food, and prayer. As Black people migrated to other parts of the country, the celebration of Jubilee Day, Black Independence Day, or Freedom Day, now known as Juneteenth, was established.
Over the last several decades, states have widely celebrated Juneteenth as a holiday. In the wake of 2020, many corporations, law firms, and legal organizations are recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday where employees are given the day off. This push began with Texas in 1980. Since then, 47 states and the District of Columbia have recognized Juneteenth as a holiday or day of observance.
Over the last two years, there has been a greater push for Juneteenth to become a national federal holiday. Congress members, large corporations, tech giants, and many activist groups have advocated for the federal government to finally recognize Juneteenth as the federal holiday it should become. During the last several congressional sessions, bills have been introduced in Congress, but none had successfully passed the senate floor. Finally, on June 15th, 2021, the Senate unanimously passed a bill officially establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday. The bill will be sent to the House next and then to President Joe Biden to become law. This comes on the heels of the racial reckoning happening in America that has rightly brought more visibility to Juneteenth and the hardships Black people encounter at the hands of systemic racism and police brutality, in addition to the long-standing inequities in our country’s history.
The atrocities of slavery cannot be forgotten during the celebration and learning of Juneteenth. It is simply unacceptable that enslaved peoples were held captive for another two and half years after they were legally freed, or that slavery existed in the first place. Many slaves spoke about not being able to leave their plantations because they feared retaliation, not having anywhere to go, or being killed. While slavery was abolished with the ratification of the 13th amendment, these fears are still very real for so many Black Americans today. The momentum cannot be lost on recognizing how important Juneteenth is and what it represents: immense suffering, the power of Black resiliency, and hope for a better future. Acknowledging Juneteenth as a federal holiday is a cause for celebration and another step in the right direction as the country attempts to right the wrong of systemic racism.
1 Alex Wong, “Emancipation Proclamation,” History.com Editors, January 25th, 2021, accessed June 10th, 2021, https://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/emancipation-proclamation
2 Henry Louis Gates, Jr., “What is Juneteenth?” PBS, accessed June 10th, 2021, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cross/history/what-is-juneteenth/
3 Congressional Research Services, “Juneteenth: Fact Sheet,” Congressional Research Service Report, June 3, 2020, accessed June 10th, 2021, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R44865.pdf
4 Elizabeth Nix, “What is Juneteenth?” History News, June 14th, 2021, accessed, June 15th, 2021, https://www.history.com/news/what-is-juneteenth
5 Dr. Kimberly Kutz Elliot, “The Emancipation Proclamation,” Khan Academy, accessed June 10th, 2021, https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/us-history/civil-war-era/slavery-and-the-civil-war/a/the-emancipation-proclamation
6 Congressional Research Service Report, 1.
7 Doug Criss, “All but four US states celebrate Juneteenth as a holiday,” CNN, June 19th, 2019, accessed June 10th, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/19/us/juneteenth-state-holidays-trnd/index.html
8 Geoff Whitmore, “What is Juneteenth? And What Cities Are Having Events?” Forbes, June 18th, 2020, accessed June 10th, 2021, https://www.forbes.com/sites/geoffwhitmore/2020/06/18/what-is-juneteenth-and-what-cities-are-having-events/?sh=11b1a2a85122
9 Congressional Research Service Report, 3.
10 Igor Bobic, “Senate Passes Bill Establishing Juneteenth As A National Holiday,” HuffPost, June 15th 2021, accessed June 15th, 2021, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/senate-passes-juneteenth-national-holiday_n_60c915dde4b09ba204a9d24b
I have been thinking a lot about what needs to happen from an operational perspective for a legal organization to implement or augment its DEI efforts. That is, of course, my job. It came to me that one can go through the steps; however, if there is no transition in thinking – and actual transformation in leadership – DEI efforts will likely fail. This is not about checking off boxes or implementing mandatory training; instead, it is about shifting from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.
I am sure many of you are familiar with these terms and read Carol Dweck’s book Mindset, but it becomes really interesting when you think of mindsets related to DEI efforts and the legal field. Dweck writes, "In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort." (Dweck, 2015). She then describes a growth mindset as “[i]n a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” (Dweck, 2015). Don't get me wrong, those with a fixed mindset can work hard and put in the long hours, but they never believe their talents will exceed what they naturally are, and they continuously try to prove themselves as worthy. Simultaneously, those with a growth mindset believe that they can change their abilities through learning and hard work and are less focused on proving themselves and are more focused on the growth piece.
How many of those in senior leadership apply a fixed mindset as it relates to less experienced attorneys? How many of those leaders put those attorneys in a box soon after they start working at a law firm or organization using a fixed mindset model. Attorneys, I purport, categorize new attorneys as either high potential attorneys or low potential attorneys. What might it look like if some leaders applied a growth mindset to newer attorneys? Sure, they may still put them in a box based on what the leaders may assume are their abilities on day one, but they do not leave those attorneys in those boxes. Employing a growth mindset approach would be to brainstorm ways to ensure that attorneys gets the support necessary to develop and reach their potential. An example would be to hire a legal writing tutor to work with that attorneys when writing is an issue, instead of simply placing them in a low-potential category. That is inclusivity.
Now let's apply the fixed and growth mindset models to the DEI efforts in your organization. When I consult and train and provide examples of bringing a more robust DEI plan into an organization, I hear way too often that my suggestions are aspirational in nature and probably will not work. Talk about a fixed mindset. Adopting a growth mindset would be willing to consider my advice and at least give it a try.
While I am not a fan of the Socratic method, I believe strongly in this quote by Socrates: The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. That growth mindset allows room for the change that needs to happen with DEI.
(this post was composed by CLI's Kedzie Schuster)
November is National Native American Heritage Month. This time is dedicated to recognizing the many sacrifices, contributions, and history of Native Americans and celebrating their culture and heritage, that has deeply enriched the character of our nation.
More than 570 federally recognized tribes are in the United States, all with their own customs and traditions. Each tribe has its own governing principles. In fact, the United States Constitution is based on the Iroquois Constitution, also known as the Great Law of Peace. In 1988, the U.S. Senate recognized the Great Law of Peace as inspiration for the U.S. Constitution, stating, "The confederation of the original 13 colonies into one republic was inﬂuenced by the political system developed by the Iroquois Confederacy, as were many of the democratic principles which were incorporated into the constitution itself."
Despite their contributions to our nation’s guiding principles (and beyond), Native Americans are wildly underrepresented in legal professions. A 2014 study from the American Bar Association found that there were only 2,640 Native American attorneys, which compromises 0.2% of the 1.2 million total attorneys in the U.S. In 1980, 0.32% of law students were Native American compared to 0.82% in 2010. These 2010 numbers may be over-representative, however, as there is a phenomenon of checking the Native American box when individuals are actually not Native American.
A contemporary example of systemic racism as it relates to Native Americans is COVID-19. COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted indigenous communities. In 23 states with sufficient race/ethnicity data, Native Americans were 3.5x more likely to have contracted COVID-19 than a non-Hispanic white person. Even this is a "gross underreporting," comments Abigail Echo-Hawk, the director of the Urban Indian Health Institute. At the end of April, the Navajo Nation had the third-highest per capita rate of COVID-19 in the country, behind New Jersey and New York. This is dangerous given other systemic issues, such as Native Americans being less likely to have health insurance, being lower on the socioeconomic ladder, and the exclusion of indigenous communities from data sets and analyses used to make health policy decisions.
COVID-19 has also had economic consequences for Native Americans. For example, the Hualapai tribe decided to close down the Grand Canyon horseshoe skywalk to keep in line with CDC regulations; however, that was their primary income source. Also, there is no single Native American-owned casino open, and many other tribal businesses are closed. Joseph Kalt, a politics professor at Harvard, said, "The economic impact of COVID-19 on Native American communities could be devastating.”
The American government removed many indigenous peoples from their land and confined them to reservations, which cut them off from traditional diets and lifestyles. As a result, Native Americans are not only being infected and dying from COVID-19 but are also suffering from higher rates of obesity, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease [than white Americans]. They also have higher rates of suicide. In a socioeconomic vein, the median income for a Native household is $39,700, nearly a third less than the overall American average of $57,600. So, while it is essential to have a Native American Heritage Month to recognize the contributions and struggles of indigenous communities, it is arguably more important to acknowledge that we are honoring a group of people that are still actively being oppressed.
What can you do?
Here are some best practices and organizations to donate to/get involved with:
Native American Inclusivity: Native Americans are underrepresented in most professional realms. This should be recognized and righted within your organization. The INAERP (listed below) is an excellent resource if you do not know where to begin.
Indian and Native American Employment Rights Program: The Indian and Native American Employment Rights Program (INAERP) advances awareness of employment rights and job opportunities for American Indians and Alaska Natives. INAERP accomplishes this mission through compliance assistance and outreach to federal contractors and coordination with tribal representatives, community-based organizations, apprenticeship programs, workforce development agencies, and other national stakeholders. INAERP can help your company with affirmative action efforts by researching Native American recruitment sources that match your organization's unique employment needs.
Network with Tribal Colleges and Universities: 37 accredited Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) in the United States. So, there is a pipeline of approximately 30,000 full-time and part-time students seeking post-secondary education in over 350 educational programs.
(this blog was authored by the CLI's Kedzie Schuster)
Each year, Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15 to commemorate and celebrate American Latinx and Hispanic communities’ culture, history, and contributions.
The timing of Hispanic Heritage month coincides with the Independence Day for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. These Latin American countries declared independence from Spain on September 15, 1821. Mexico, Chile, and Belize celebrate their independence days on September 16, September 18, and September 21, respectively.
Hispanic Heritage Month was initially a week, but in 1987 U.S. Representative Esteban E. Torres proposed the current 31-day period so that the United States could “properly observe and coordinate events and activities to celebrate Hispanic culture and achievement.” Torres also said, “We want the American people to learn of our heritage. We want the public to know that we share a legacy with the rest of the country, a legacy that includes artists, writers, Olympic champions, and leaders in business, government, cinema, and science.” Hispanic Heritage Week was expanded to a full month under Ronald Reagan in 1988. On September 14, 1989, George H.W. Bush became the first president to declare September 15 – October 15 National Hispanic Heritage Month.
As of July 2019, the United States’ Hispanic population is 60.6 million, second only to Mexico. Their ancestor’s influence spreads far and wide. America’s oldest city, St. Augustine, Florida, was founded by Spaniards more than 25 years before the Jamestown settlement. Mission Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion in San Antonio, TX, is one of America’s oldest standing stone churches. Hispanic legacy is found in every nook of the American Southwest, but their impact does not end there.
“We are not a monolith. We come from Texas and Mexico. Brazil and Belize. Cuba and Costa Rica. We are diverse and dynamic. We contain multitudes. Our identity cannot be easily defined. And it shouldn’t. It’s part of what makes us, and our culture, our accomplishments, our struggles and our triumphs, so incredibly unique.” – Raquel Tamez
The Hispanic and Latinx legacies are tough to put into words. Their contributions have enriched every facet of our society. So, this month, we celebrate the resilience of Hispanic and Latinx people. We celebrate the close-knit family structure and proud communities. We honor those who have shaped American culture and history and those who continue to do so.
(the post was authored by CLI's Kedzie Schuster)
For months anti-racism books, like White Fragility, So You Want to Talk about Race, and How to Be Antiracist, were at the top of book lists as thousands committed to educating themselves about race and racism in the United States. Social media was flooded with infographics about history that had been whitewashed, links to petitions and other resources. People were researching unjust laws that allow for legal corruption, like prosecutorial discretion and qualified immunity.
All in all, it seemed as though the non-Black world was collectively realizing that what is happening right now did not happen out of thin air but rather is the predictable outcome of systemic racism.
A term you have probably heard very frequently in the last few months is “ally.” What does it mean to be a good ally?
As a general rule, being a good ally means not centering yourself when it comes to racial issues. It means you stand with marginalized communities and commit to learning about racism and how it infects each facet of society. It means questioning your own implicit biases.
An ally stands up against racial injustice. But time and time again, self-proclaimed allies do not extend their efforts when it comes to their career or when their own relationships with friends and family are on the line. They will let racial microaggressions or blatant racism slide because “Uncle Sal will never change”. Or it’s their boss so they stay silent as to not ruffle any professional feathers. Allies can attend protests, sign petitions and work to dismantle injustice, but at any time revert back to the systems and status quo that serves only to benefit themselves.
That is why social justice advocates have started making the distinction between allies and accomplices. An accomplice is willing to disrupt their lives to dismantle racism, even if it means personal or professional backlash. An accomplice intentionally spends their money at organizations and companies that align with their views. Whether it be explicit or implicit racism, accomplices recognize that both forms allow oppression to continue.
This is not to bash the journey of ally-ship. But it is just that: a journey. As allies continue to grow and gain confidence in what they believe, they will (hopefully) transition into accomplices. They will hopefully have recognized the privileges that they benefit from and use those privileges to speak out against racism and injustice whenever and wherever.
As Malcom X writes, “I have these very deep feelings that white people who want to join Black organizations are really just taking the escapist way to salve their consciences. By visibly hovering near us, they are "proving" that they are "with us." But the hard truth is this isn't helping to solve America's racist problem. The Negroes aren't the racists. Where the really sincere white people have got to do their "proving" of themselves is not among the Black victims, but out on the battle lines of where America's racism really is—and that's in their own home communities; America's racism is among their own fellow whites. That's where sincere whites who really mean to accomplish something have got to work.”
While I don’t see accomplice-ship replacing the word ally-ship in the near future, it is important to make the distinction between passive and active activism. The point is not to be able to say that you are an accomplice versus an ally. Rather, the distinction between the two words should be an opportunity to look inward and reflect on what more you can be doing.
“Blindspot.” “Falling on deaf ears.” “Handicapped parking.” “This is insane.” These might seem like common phrases, but they are, in fact, some of the most common examples of ableist language. Ableist language is any language that offensive to people with a disability. While something like “blind spot” may seem innocuous, it can have a disproportionate impact on a blind person. The phrase itself implies that you are lacking or missing something. It is these common phrases in our lexicon that we need to reexamine and replace.
Further, as we discuss inclusion, many of us are well-versed on the appropriate standards and language, but dead angles, i.e., blind spots, can hinder us with as we use phrases that are all too common, yet incredibly disrespectful.
At its core, language both describes and tells a story. We choose words based on our experience. As such, there was a time when something like “wheelchair-bound” was an acceptable term. There is no nuance to this description. While it might be accurate, it is also reductive and possibly hurtful. Imagine living your whole life with a disability and to only be described by that disability.
We need to become more sensitive, and our language is where we can start. It is common for words to come and go from our vocabulary but changing ableist words will not happen without a conscious effort. That effort begins with all of us, one word and one phrase at a time.
Inclusion Means Everyone
When we use the ableist language, the implication is that we care about inclusion for some, but not for all. These outdated and derogatory terms have been widely used and in existence for many years, and while our own privilege may lead us to be desensitized to these hurtful words, we all have an obligation to get it right when it comes to using the right language. Pure inclusion means that everyone not only has a seat at the table but is invited to engage in the conversation. This must include people with physical or mental disability as well as traditionally disenfranchised and under-represented groups.
Being mindful of language sends the message that you value those you work with, interact with and our part of your community. As champions of inclusion, it is our responsibility to learn the appropriate language to refer to others in the community. Doing so is not only the right thing to do but serves as a clear signal that we are indeed talking about everyone when we speak about inclusivity.
If You Don’t Know . . . Ask
As we shift our thinking and lexicon, we will make mistakes. But it is learning from that mistake that will push us forward. If you don’t know, ask. And when you hear the answer, make that part of your new language. Your thoughtful inquiry is not hurtful, but your continued use of outdated language will be.
I challenge all of us to think harder about language and the words we use. To be honest, I never thought of ‘blind spot’ as provocative, but now that I understand ableist language, I get it. These small changes can bring us closer and increase diversity, inclusion, and equity for all. There is a seat for everyone at our table and a true desire to hear all of voices.
As we all move ahead in the uncharted territory of COVID-19, there is no more "business as usual" in the workplace, and how we all work together is changing – perhaps permanently. While it could be easy to want to put aside diversity and inclusiveness (D&I ) programs and focus on what may appear to be more pressing issues, we can't do that. In reality, strong D&I programs could be the bright light at the end of a dark tunnel of chaos and uncertainty that surrounds COVID-19.
Diversity experts are in consensus about now being the time to double down on these efforts. Many studies indicate companies invested in D&I programs are more innovative, efficient, and much more likely to hang onto diverse talent. This should cement the idea of D&I programs being "must-have" programs for any organization - for employees and clients .
Keep Your Goals in Mind
Often, as we face challenges, our initial reaction is to focus on the quick decisions and solutions to immediately right the ship, leading to the abandonment of some programs that create the culture and identity of a company. Do not let this happen to your D&I program. Keep diversity goals top of mind, as they are still important.
Vigorous, diverse teams often have different points of view and context, and bring varied perspectives on challenges, fosters creativity, and solutions to problems. Further, many studies have shown that well-balanced teams are more innovative and more efficient when faced with complex issues. This could put your organization in a better position to not only survive these challenging times but to be able to pivot and continue to thrive.
Diversity in Leadership
Equity and inclusiveness in a leadership team will serve your organization in times of crisis on many levels. An inclusive leader can see different perspectives while still aligning core values and keeping a remote workplace together. Studies have also shown that diversity in the leadership team positions your company for better complex problem solving as well as a better ability to hire and retain a diverse team. In turn, making your organization better equipped to offer strategies and solutions that will speak to a broader range of clients and employees.
If your organization has a formal mentoring program, now is the time to invest in this program intentionally. Employee engagement, equal access, improved communication, and innovation are just a few of the benefits of having a diverse mentoring program. This initiative is not something that would be 'nice to have.' It is a must to keep your organization competitive, especially in times of uncertainty. These programs foster employee engagement, which is paramount to having an inclusive team.
Inclusive Culture is Better Culture
As offices start to reopen, there is excitement and apprehension. We are excited to reconnect to the social component that we have been missing and apprehensive about physically being in the same space. Having a robust and inclusive culture in your workplace will quell anxieties and going back to the office will bring the feeling of normalcy and safety to help ensure that this step is comfortable for everyone. Inclusivity is never one-size-fits-all but rather adapting to individual needs and creating a safe space for everyone.
Diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace creates an environment where everyone can feel accepted and valued. The long-term effect is better engagement, longevity, and cost savings as lower turnover will impact the bottom line of all organizations and companies.
At its core, inclusion is placing value on each one of your team members, as well as the entire team. Your organization cannot wait for things to return to ‘normal’ to make diversity and inclusion a priority.
Judge Gary M. Jackson was awarded the inaugural Judge Wiley Daniel Lifetime Achievement Award by the Center for Legal Inclusiveness at its February 29, 2020 Ball for All Gala. Judge Jackson is a third-generation Coloradan and has been a pillar of the Colorado legal community since graduating from CU law school in 1970. He has worked in Colorado’s public sector, private sector, and the judiciary for 50 years. Among his many other accomplishments and endeavors, he co-founded and currently co-chairs the Steering Committee of the Diversity on the Bench Coalition.
It wasn’t until 1957 that Colorado had its first non-white judge on any level. Mayor William F. Nicholson appointed James C. Flanigan, the grandson of slaves, to the municipal court after serving eight years as Denver’s first black district attorney. Nine years later, Judge Flanigan became Colorado’s first African-American District Court Judge.
As of October 2018, 61 years after Judge Flanigan’s appointment, out of the 181 District Court Judges in the state of Colorado, there was still only one black District Court Judge, the Hon. William Robbins of Denver, and he had announced his retirement; and out of the 29 Appellate Court Judges, there was only one African-American judge, the Hon. Karen Ashby, and she announced her retirement shortly after Judge Robbins. The lack of judicial diversity extends to Hispanic-American, Native-American, and Asian-American communities as well as to women. The potential for zero black judges on the District Court and Appellate Courts was real in Colorado.
These demographic numbers are more than just an embarrassment to our bar association, to the legal profession, and to the citizens of Colorado. To maintain a representative democracy and a strong republic, all three branches of municipal, city, county, state, and federal government must reflect the diversity of its citizens. In most democratic countries, the Judicial Branch is not autonomous from the other branches. Of all three branches of government, the people have the most direct and frequent contact with the judicial branch, making diversity an absolute necessity under the First, Fifth, Sixth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments.
During my 50 years as a lawyer and judge, and as a citizen, I have witnessed first-hand the awful costs of racial and gender bias. As a graduate of CU Law School in 1970, Mike McKevitt hired me as a deputy District Attorney in Denver. Like, Judge Flanigan, I was the only black deputy District Attorney in the State of Colorado at that time. I was assigned to be a trial deputy in the Hon. Judge Zita Weinshienk’s courtroom, who was appointed to the bench in 1964, the only female judge in the state.
Being assigned to her court was a stroke of luck. Judge Weinshienk, a graduate of Harvard Law School and member of the Jewish community, possessed a superior intellect and innate wisdom. Her standard of fairness and equal justice for all helped shape my own practice as a lawyer and judge.
When I became a Chief Trial Deputy at age 27, I had the honor of serving in the District Courtrooms of Judge Flanigan and Judge Donald Pacheco, the first Hispanic-American District Court Judge, while Judge Weinshienk continued her ascendency through the court system by becoming the first female state District Court judge, and thereafter, the first female United States District Court Judge in Colorado.
The Hon. Wiley Daniel recognized the immense responsibility bestowed upon him by President Clinton as the first black United States District Court Judge. Wiley was a dear friend who never stopped reminding me that it is our diversity that makes America great. His work was not in vain, as evidenced by the recent appointment by Governor Polis of Nikea T. Bland to the District Court.
As the first recipient of the Judge Wiley Daniel Lifetime Achievement Award, I call on all of us work together to assure that our judicial system reflects the diversity of our communities and that this branch of government draws upon the wealth of all of our collective experiences and wisdom.
The CLI Bench Dream Team (co-chaired by Judge Don Toussaint, Justice Melissa Hart, and Justice Monica Márquez) seeks to build a pipeline of diverse applicants for judicial officer positions across Colorado. We've undertaken several projects, including our Coffee Brigade, that serves as a resource to anyone who is interested in becoming a judge. The Coffee Brigade is a list of current and former judicial officers around the state who have made their contact information available and who are happy to meet for coffee (or lunch) with interested candidates to talk about life on the bench and offer advice about the application process. We have volunteers from county court, district court, the court of appeals, and the supreme court, as well as our federal district court. Curious about the day-to-day realities of being a trial court judge? Contact a Coffee Brigade volunteer and get the scoop from someone who is living it. Have questions about how to navigate the application process (particularly as a diverse candidate), nail the commission interview, round up letters of recommendation? Call up a Coffee Brigade volunteer and find out the answers. Want to know more about the joys and challenges of being a judge in Colorado? Let’s talk.
Those of us who are listed on the Coffee Brigade welcome your email or phone call. So reach out, don’t be shy! We are happy to connect over coffee or lunch to share our stories and answer your questions. Our goal is to demystify the process and level the playing field for all lawyers who are considering a career on the bench. We love our jobs and we are happy to share advice based on our own journeys. So give us a ring or shoot us an email. And if you’re a judge (or you know a judge) who would like to join the Coffee Brigade, please contact Sumi Lee, Head of Judicial Diversity Outreach at firstname.lastname@example.org and CLI at ceo@legalinclusiveness org. We update our list regularly.
Hello! My name is Ryann Peyton and I am honored to serve as your Board Chair for 2020. This is my seventh year serving on the CLI Board, having previously served as chair of its Development Committee.
Thank you to Immediate Past Chair Patrick O’Rourke for his passionate leadership of CLI, and to his Board and committee chairs who worked together for a very successful 2019 in which we saw much growth and transition for CLI.
As I take the gavel, I will support the mission of CLI and continue its legacy with spirit and enthusiasm. Chairing this dynamic organization is truly an honor for me. It resonates with my values and experience as a diverse lawyer and I have always believed in improving diversity, inclusion, and equity as a means to creating a thriving legal profession.
This year we will embark on selecting a permanent CEO for the organization, grow our nationally recognized Legal Inclusiveness & Diversity Summit, launch a brand new Diversity Engagement Survey for legal employers, build a robust Young Lawyers Division, and expand the value of our membership benefits. I am excited to work with our members, Board and leadership to advance this sustainable, growing, and thriving organization.
I encourage you to take advantage of CLI’s activities and networking events during which members exchange ideas, learn, and share. Through your steadfast support as members of CLI, each and every one of you can help support better education, tools, and programming for diverse lawyers and legal employers in Colorado’s legal community. Together we can ensure that CLI continues to provide our profession with cultures of inclusion.
I am excited about the many new possibilities ahead. We can all be proud of what CLI stands for and its legacy for providing services to all. As Chair, I am proud to build upon our organization’s history and look forward to getting to know you.
Thank you for your support, trust, and confidence.