November 2020 Newsletter
President's Message
Greetings BWLA Members, Sponsors, and Friends,

Is it me, or did the month of October fly by? Just like that we are in the month of November and today is Election Day 2020.

Leading up to the election, BWLA launched a robust Voting Rights Education initiative to educate our community about their rights regarding eligibility to vote, registering to vote, and how to address issues on Election Day. We hope that you found our #BlackWomenVote videos, informational pamphlets, and informational cartoon video useful in spreading voting rights education throughout your networks. We hope that our participation in the Illinois Department of Corrections Summit of Hope provided guidance to hundreds of returning citizens regarding their right to vote. We also hope that our Judicial Ratings Voter's Guide (which can be found here) made the daunting task of selecting Cook County judges less scary. BWLA has so many hopes, but the biggest hope is that no matter what, you exercise your right to vote today and let your very important voice be heard. No matter the length of the line--stay in it!

Last month, BWLA hosted two virtual programs as part of the Civil Rights Action Committee's Virtual Town Hall Series and I was thrilled with the level of engagement our membership showed during those important discussions with city and state public officials. BWLA's Scholarship Fund Board also continued to support a Chicagoland domestic violence shelter by providing Halloween goodie bags to children living at the shelter. We hope that our carefully crafted bags brought a smile to the children's faces.

On November 12, 2020, the Scholarship Fund Board will continue to serve our community by virtually hosting our annual Sips for Scholarships fundraiser event. BWLA will announce our Fall Book Award Scholarship recipients at Sips--just one of the many ways we support Chicagoland law students. Sips will also be a great 'party for a cause' event as it includes a virtual wine tasting, live entertainment, and a silent auction! I am super excited about the silent auction which includes awesome items such as restaurant gift cards, a huge basket of premium spirits (I call dibs on this one), art, virtual makeup tutorials, spa packages, photography packages, and so much more! Knock out your Christmas shopping while helping the BWLA Scholarship Fund Board continue to serve our community. Check out the newsletter for details on registering for Sips and ordering your wine and food!

Until next time, VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!

Kenyatta S. Beverly
2020-2021 BWLA President

Upcoming Events
BWLA Scholarship Fund Board presents Sips for Scholarships 2020 - Virtual Edition

The BWLA Scholarship Fund Board is proud to present its signature event, Sips for Scholarships, in a brand new virtual format on Thursday, November 12 2020 from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. 

This year, we will provide a certified sommelier-led wine tasting featuring Black and female-owned wine providers, entertainment, raffle prizes, and a silent auction that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home! We will also announce our 2020 Fall Book Scholarship recipients!

Purchase your ticket here!

Sips for Scholarships Silent Auction

The Sips for Scholarships Silent Auction is officially live! Click here to view and bid on exciting auction items such as a NARS cosmetics basket valued at $350, a family photography session, beautiful artwork by Black creators, fine dining packages, spa services, and so much more!

Items will continue to be added, so check back often!

The silent auction will close on November 12, 2020 at 10:00 p.m.

Law Student Exam Writing and Research Workshop

BWLA's Law Student Outreach Committee is hosting a virtual Exam Writing and Research Workshop. The event will be held via Zoom and is scheduled for Saturday, November 21, 2020 from 9:00am-12:00pm.

Register for this event here!
Please Donate to the Salvation Army's Angel Giving Tree

BWLA's Community Service and Outreach Committee is partnering with the Salvation Army's Robert Stern Red Shield Center to purchase gifts for children in need who reside in Englewood.

If you are interested in helping to make the holiday season a bit brighter for these children please visit BWLA's personalized Angel Tree webpage here and create an account. Next, choose an Angel from the Virtual Tree that you would like to adopt.

Gifts may be purchased in-store or online, and delivered to the Adele and Robert Stern Red Shield Center at 945 West 69th Street, Chicago, IL 60521. Please contact the Center at 773-358-3200 if you would like to schedule an in-person gift drop off.

This program will run through December 11th, and the Center must receive all gifts by December 12th.

If you have any questions contact Weeya Young ( or Sharon Ferguson (
Past Events
The BWLA Civil Rights Action Committee's Virtual Town Hall Series

The BWLA Civil Rights Action Committee hosted a three-part Virtual Town Hall Series to create a forum for BWLA members to engage directly with community activists and public officials to determine 1) the challenges facing the community; 2) the potential opportunities to address those challenges (via legislation, reform advocacy or some other legal effort); and 3) how BWLA can play a role in advancing those opportunities as related to the promotion of civil rights and liberties in our communities.

On October 7, 2020, in Part Two of the series, Era Laudermilk, Deputy of Legislative Affairs, Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender, moderated a panel which included Bria Scudder, Assistant Deputy Governor, Office of the Governor, State of Illinois; Senator Robert Peters, IL Senate, 13th District; Representative Carol Ammons, IL House of Representatives, 103rd District; and Senator Christopher Belt, IL Senate, 57th District.

The panel discussion was lively and informative as attendees learned about current and proposed legislative efforts to address criminal justice reform and other efforts advanced by the panelists in their respective districts/wards.

On October 21, 2020, in the final installment of the series, city officials highlighted the current strategy to adequately address criminal justice reform, and provided guidance on how BWLA members can contribute to current efforts.

This insightful panel was moderated by Tiffany Sanders Sostrin, Director of Legislative and Community Affairs, Chicago Park District, and the panelists included Alderman Chris Taliaferro, 29th Ward; Alderwoman Leslie Hairston, 5th Ward; Alderman Matt Martin, 47th Ward and; Walter Katz, Vice President of Criminal Justice, Arnold Ventures.
BWLA Provides Halloween Goodie Bags to Children at Domestic Violence Shelter

On October 28, 2020, the BWLA Scholarship Fund Board provided Halloween goodie bags to the children housed at a Chicagoland Domestic Violence Shelter that we regularly support.

BWLA could not support our community without our membership's generous and selfless donations. We are incredibly grateful for your consistent support that allows us to provide thousands of dollars in scholarships, school supplies, meals, winter essentials, and other means of support to our community.

If you are interested in donating to the BWLA Scholarship Fund to help us continue this work, please contribute here.
Mentoring and CLE Opportunities
The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism invites BWLA members to take advantage of its new lawyer mentoring program for free CLE credit and to build lasting and powerful mentoring relationships. 

Participants may engage in this program virtually. More information can be found here.

BWLA's membership is also invited to enjoy the following free online CLE: Advancing Women in Law Summit Course (1.0 Hours of Diversity and Inclusion CLE Credit in Illinois).
Employment Opportunities
BWLA recently added the following employment opportunities to the BWLA Job Board:

  • Bureau Chief - Civil Rights at the Office of the Illinois Attorney General

Current opportunities, including the positions identified above, can be found here.

BWLA updates employment opportunities on our website ( bi-monthly.

Email a direct weblink for all employment opportunities to

BWLA Member Achievements
Congratulations to Gail Bent on her new position as Transactional Attorney at BMGI!
Congratulations to Katie Gorham on her new position as Senior Manager, Technology Transactions (Global Office of the General Counsel) at PwC!
Congratulations to Josie M. Gough, Assistant Dean for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity at Loyola University Chicago School of Law on being selected by the WBAI as a 2020 Top Women Lawyers in Leadership Award honoree.

Register here to attend the virtual awards ceremony on December 1st!
Congratulations to Natasha Jenkins on her new adventure as General Counsel for Teamsters Local 700!
Congratulations to Tiffany Kay on her new position as Deputy General Counsel at Teamsters Local 700!
Congratulations to BWLA Past President Ngozi Okorafor on being selected by the WBAI as a 2020 Top Women Lawyers in Leadership Award honoree.

Register here to attend the virtual awards ceremony on December 1st!
Congratulations to Chicago State University President and BWLA Past President Z. Scott on being awarded The Justice John Paul Stevens Award by the Chicago Bar Foundation and the Chicago Bar Association.
Congratulations to BWLA Past President Kenya Jenkins-Wright on receiving the Illinois Bar Foundation's inaugural 2020 Changemaker Award!
BWLA Member Spotlight
Brandi Burton

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani, LLP
Brandi shares why BWLA matters to her:

"One meeting—that’s all I needed to recognize the benefits this sisterhood would provide to my career and my life.

BWLA is a sounding board and a safe-space, one of few, for Black women lawyers.  Such dynamism foregrounds this organization of Black women; a group that has already connected me with Black women lawyers who have been trailblazers in navigating every aspect of our profession. Indeed, they have shown me that no dream is out of reach.  Demonstrably, BWLA has equipped me with the tools and resources required for self-advocacy and the traversing of a field where most people do not look like me.

Beyond professional growth, BWLA has provided me with unparalleled opportunities to serve our community and pay it forward to younger Black women lawyers who undoubtedly face the same challenges that I have faced.

In short, BWLA is my army of Black women attorneys who I can count on, unswervingly, to support and inspire me—that is why BWLA matters to me."

If you run into issues while trying to cast your vote please reference these phone numbers to receive assistance.

BWLA Judicial Voting Recommendations

BWLA has issued its ratings on judicial candidates, which you can find here.

Applications are now being accepted for the ACLU of Illinois Women's and Reproductive Rights Project ("WRRP") Legal Fellowship.

This is a one-year fellowship to advance access to reproductive health care and gender justice, including strategic litigation to enforce Illinois’ groundbreaking Reproductive Health Act, which protects access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion.

WRRP’s work recognizes that those facing barriers to reproductive health care and gender justice are often disproportionately impacted when they are young, people of color, poor, or experience marginalization involving another aspect of their identity. The Fellow will also have the opportunity to work on issues outside of reproductive health care and gender justice as part of the broader ACLU of Illinois legal team. 
Interested individuals are encouraged to apply ASAP. The position will be filled by January 1, 2021, if not sooner.

BWLA's Expungement & Sealing Committee 

Having a criminal record can seriously diminish a person's quality of life in many ways such as limiting employment opportunities, making it more difficult to rent, denial of educational financial aid, and other negative impacts.  

If you are interested in helping to provide members of the community with a fresh start, consider serving on this committee. Training will be provided and cases can be handled remotely. 

Please email Committee Chair Michelle Sieger at 
to express interest. 
Events Around Town
My Brother's Keeper | My Sister's Keeper 2020 Fellowship Summit | Leveling up: Becoming the Best Version of Yourself

November 13th, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm

BWLA members are invited to the 2020 Summit which will provide an opportunity for open dialogue about our shared experience as male and female attorneys of color.

This virtual and FREE event will serve as an opportunity to facilitate the development of new relationships, build on existing connections, and learn strategies for career management and advancement.  

Confirmed speakers include Ben Wilson (Chairman, Beveridge & Diamond, P.C.); Chad Walker (VP, GC, and Corporate Secretary, Morton Salt); LaTanya Langley (VP and GC, BIC International); Michele Meyer-Shipp (Chief People and Culture Officer, Major League Baseball); Paula Edgar (CEO, PGE LLC and Partner, Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC); Squire Servance (Senior VP, GC, and Corporate Secretary, Repligen Corporation); and many other phenomenal speakers.

RSVP here.

November 19, 2020 at 6:30 pm

The Illinois Holocaust Museum invites you to join their virtual program with Richard Rothstein, author of The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, Distinguished Fellow of the Economic Policy Institute, and Senior Fellow (emeritus) at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, as he outlines how residential segregation was created by racially explicit and unconstitutional government policy that openly subsidized whites-only suburbanization in the mid-twentieth century.
The program is free, but registration is required.
Thank You To Our 
2020 Fundraiser Sponsors