August 2022 Newsletter
Join BWLA at the 93rd Annual
Bud Billiken Parade
Join BWLA as we walk in the parade and distribute school supplies on Saturday, August 13, 2022! Family and friends are welcome and all participants will receive a FREE 2022-2023 BWLA t-shirt!

If you are unable to attend the parade but would like to assist with our efforts, you are invited to help us pack school supplies on Friday, August 12, 2022. If you are interested in making a donation, please send an email to the BWLA administrator email account at: or make a financial donation here

To RSVP for the parade or sign up for school supply packing, click here. More details to follow for those who sign up to attend. Hope to see you there!

BWLA 2022-2023 Board of Directors and BWLA Scholarship Fund Board Installation
On June 13, 2022, BWLA installed its new President, Elsa Andrianifahanana, the Board of Directors and the Scholarship Fund Board for the 2022-2023 bar year. The installation event was sponsored by Jones Day Chicago at their beautiful new office space.

During the event, Immediate Past President Nakhia Crossley presented awards to several individuals in recognition of their leadership and exemplary service during the 2021-2022 BWLA bar year.

BWLA Founder, the Honorable Ann Claire Williams (ret.) gave the keynote address and Justice Candace Jackson-Akiwumi swore in both boards.

The 2022-2023 BWLA Board of Directors is as follows: President Elsa Andrianifahanana, Vice President Era Laudermilk, Parlimentarian Weeya Young, Treasurer Christian Conway, Recording Secretary Kina Arnold, Corresponding Secretary Joan Akalaonu, Board Members at Large Maggie Mendenhall-Casey, Renai Rodney, Shannon Stokes, and Ashley Varnado, and Ex-Officio Nakhia Crossley.

The 2022-2023 BWLA Scholarship Fund Board is as follows: Chairwoman Jasmine Fannell, Kina Arnold, Joan Akalaonu, Amber Carpenter, Djenne Clayton, Mariska Richards, Merili Seale, Nakhia Crossley, Elsa Andrianifahanana, Era Laudermilk, Christian Conway, Ashley Varnado, and Weeya Young.
2022-2023 Board of Directors
2022-2023 Scholarship Fund Board
Congratulations to the 2022 winners of the Agnes McGirth and LSAT Scholarships
Every spring, long time BWLA member Violet Clark funds a scholarship for a law school student in honor of her mother, Agnes McGirth. This year in honor of her retirement, Violet's firm, Laner Muchin, matched the scholarship amount and the BWLA Scholarship Fund Board was able to award two (2) law students $1,000.00 each.

This year marks the first year that the BWLA Scholarship Fund Board awarded undergraduate students assistance with LSAT prep classes and testing fees. Below are the six (6) BWLA scholarship recipients:
Tonesha Townsel
North Carolina Central - 1L
Agnes McGirth

Totiana J. Sudduth
Northern Illinois University School of Law - 3L
Agnes McGirth
Camryn Clanton
Howard University
LSAT Preparation Course and Test Fee
Angela Opoku Dapaah
University of Notre Dame
LSAT Preparation Course and Test Fee
Chaya Figueroa
University of Notre Dame
LSAT Examination Fee
Malia Nix
University of Southern Florida
LSAT Preparation Course and Test Fee
Past Events
2022 Spring General Meeting and Elections
On May 24, 2022, BWLA membership gathered at Clark Hill for its annual Spring General Membership Meeting to hear from the 2021-2022 Board of Directors and to elect the 2022-2023 Board of Directors.

The 2021-2022 Board of Directors led by then BWLA President Nakhia Crossley presented a Year in Review report on the various programming and achievements of the organization during the bar year. The 2021-2022 Scholarship Fund Board also provided an overview of its fundraising efforts and accomplishments over the year.

Following the annual reports and elections, members were able to network and learn more about the many opportunities to get involved with BWLA.
"The Blueprint to Big Law" Workshop Series
Part I: How to be a Stellar Summer Associate
On Friday, June 10, 2022, BWLA hosted Part I of its workshop series, "The Blueprint to Big Law," for diverse law students who are interested in seeking a career at a law firm. This first session covered "How to be a Stellar Summer Associate." The workshop and networking opportunity brought together summer associates and attorneys from practicing firms across Chicago for an open and in-depth discussion about big law firm life and how to turn a summer associate position into an offer.

Thank you to Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP for sponsoring the event.
Part II: Unlocking On-Campus Interviews Workshop
On Friday, July 29, 2022, BWLA hosted Part II of "The Blueprint to Big Law" workshop series, this time focusing on "Unlocking Your On-Campus Interview." In this session, a panel of law firm attorneys and in-house counsel, all with experience interviewing law students for summer associate positions at firms, provided diverse law students with candid advice and tips on how to prepare for and excel during on-campus interviews with big law firms.

Thank you to Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP for sponsoring the event.

Stay tuned for details about the future workshops for this series!
Events Around Town
Installation of Cook County Bar Association's 2022-2023 Board of Directors
On Friday, June 23, 2022, BWLA attended the Cook County Bar Association's 108th Installation and Awards Banquet. Congratulations and best wishes to CCBA President Natasha Jenkins and all members of the CCBA Board for a wonderful event and bar year.
BWLA celebrates the the new Board of Directors of the Womens' Bar Association of Illinois
On Thursday, June 16, 2022, BWLA Board of Directors celebrated with others at the installation of the new Board of Directors of the Women's Bar Association of Illinois (WBAI).
BWLA Attends CBA and CBF
Pro-Bono & Public Service Awards Luncheon
On Friday, July 29, 2022 members of BWLA's Board of Directors attended the 2022 Chicago Bar Association's and Chicago Bar Foundation's Pro Bono & Public Service Awards Luncheon at the Hilton Chicago.

Chantal Kazay and Shelisa Thomas were among this year's award recipients. Chantal Kazay, Director and Senior Counsel for Litigation at Discover Financial Services, was awarded the Exelon Outstanding Corporate Counsel Award, which celebrates the significant pro bono contributions of outstanding attorneys in the corporate sector. And Shelisa Thomas, an associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, was awarded the Edward J. Lewis II Pro Bono Service Award, which honors attorneys who display a deep commitment to the fundamental principles of equal protection and equal justice in the community through outstanding pro bono service.

Congratulations Chantal and Shelisa!
BWLA's President Elsa Andrianifahanana Wins Award at National Bar Association Convention and Exhibits
BWLA attended the National Bar Association's (NBA) 97th Annual Convention and Exhibits held in Memphis, Tennessee from July 24-29, 2022. The National Bar Association's Women Lawyers Division celebrated its 50th Anniversary as a part of the NBA at the convention with the theme "Celebrating Our Past and Chartering Our Future: 50 Years of Excellence in Service, Impact, and Transformation."

At the convention, BWLA President Elsa Andrianifahanana was awarded the National Bar Association Women's Division - Outstanding Young Lawyer Award. Congratulations Elsa!
BWLA Member Achievements
Congratulations to BWLA Corresponding Secretary Joan Akalaonu on her co-authored article for The Circuit Rider: Celebrating the Historic Service of Judge Ilana Rovner and Retired Judge Ann Claire Williams on the Seventh Circuit! Click here for full article.
Congratulations to BWLA Past President Kenyatta Beverly on being appointed to serve on Girls Inc. of Chicago's Associate Board and being named a Top Women in Law Award Nominee by The Law Bulletin Media.
Congratulations to BWLA Immediate Past President Nakhia Crossley on her recognition as a Rising Star by the Women's Energy Summit as well as her published op-ed in Crain's Chicago Business. Click here for full article.
Congratulations to Sherina Maye Edwards on her new position as Chief Strategy Officer for MasTech.
Congratulations to BWLA Lifetime Member Tiffany Ferguson on her new position as Vice President L&E Investigations and Information Governance for Allstate.
Congratulations to Past BWLA Board Member Camile Lindsay Kumi on her new position as First Assistant Deputy Governor for the State of Illinois.
Congratulations to BWLA Board Member Margaret Casey Mendenhall on her promotion to the Supervising Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago.
Congratulations to BWLA Board Member Shannon Stokes on being selected to be a part of the Culture of Health Leadership Institute for Racial Healing, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Program.
Congratulations to BWLA Board Member Ashley Varnado on her new position as Assistant Public Defender for the Juvenile Division for Cook County Public Defenders' Office.
Do you or someone you know have an achievement that you'd like us to highlight in our monthly newsletter? We want to celebrate our members! Send your latest achievement addressed to BWLA Corresponding Secretary, Joan Akalaonu, at
Interested in Becoming Active With BWLA?
Are you interested in becoming more active in BWLA during the 2022-2023 bar year? If so, we have plenty of opportunities you may want to consider, including:

  • Joining BWLA. If you haven't yet renewed your BWLA membership for the 2022-2023 bar year, please register here!

  • Serving as a Committee Member. BWLA has several committees that members can join. If you're interested in serving on a committee, please fill out this brief survey here!

  • Serving on the Judicial Evaluation Committee. The Judicial Evaluation Committee (JEC) evaluates the qualifications of those who seek election, appointment to or retention to judicial office. The work that the committee does is vital to making sure candidates are just and fair, knowledgeable about the law and are not biased. If interested sign up here!

Register for the
Ray Garrett and Corporate Counsel Institute
The 42nd Annual Ray Garrett Jr. Corporate & Securities Law and 61st Annual Corporate Counsel Institute is being held September 21-23, 2022 at Northwestern Law in Chicago. This three-day, in-person CLE event combines two of our popular annual programs, the Ray Garrett and Corporate Counsel Institutes, which provide private practitioners and corporate counsel with a timely analysis of current legal issues and developments confronting corporations.
Northwestern Law Professional Education is committed to increasing diversity in the legal profession and, as part of that effort, we are pleased to offer three (3) diversity, equity, inclusion and engagement (DEIE) tuition scholarships for attorneys interested in attending but who might face financial or other obstacles preventing them from doing so.
JAMS Diversity Fellowship Program is Accepting Applications!
The JAMS Diversity Fellowship Program was created to provide training, mentorship, sponsorship, and networking opportunities to diverse professionalsJAMS is steadfast in pursuing increased diversity among ADR practitioners. We recognize the benefits of recruiting and retaining the most qualified ADR professionals, inclusive of varied ethnicity, race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation. This year we are expanding the fellowship program to the NYC, Chicago, St Louis and Southern California markets.
Please see the attached Diversity Fellowship Application. If you are interested, please submit your application no later than August 22, 2022
Employment Opportunities
BWLA constantly receives new employment opportunities that our members may be interested in. The ever expanding list has become too lengthy to share here, so please be sure to visit the BWLA Job Board to view all current employment opportunities!