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

Thank you for attending BWLA's virtual Fall General Membership Meeting last month! The turnout was great and I hope you enjoyed learning about BWLA's upcoming plans and programming. Thank you to our Committee Chairs who gave excellent presentations! Operating during a global pandemic presents unique challenges, but BWLA's membership continues to support us in all that we do. For that, I am so grateful.

I would also like to thank BWLA's membership for their donations to our Annual School Supply Drive. Due to the generosity of our membership the BWLA Scholarship Fund Board ("SFB") was able to not only donate school supplies to children at the Domestic Violence Shelter that we support, but we were also able to provide these children with winter essentials such as hats and gloves. But guess what? It did not stop there. BWLA's SFB took it a step further and also donated school supplies to students from two Chicago high schools.

BWLA is incredibly thankful for our membership who gives so freely and helps BWLA to serve our community!

Last month, BWLA held our first ever virtual Annual Fundraiser Panel, "Women of Color in Politics: Leading the Charge to Transform Democracy," and it was a huge success! Our panelists included Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, Alderwoman Maria Hadden, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, and U.S. Congresswoman Lauren Underwood. Andrea Zopp, President & CEO of World Business Chicago, moderated the panel and the discussion was informative, inspiring, and lively. If you missed the event, or simply want to experience it again, check out the newsletter for details on how you can watch video of the event.

This month BWLA is bringing more programming straight to your laptop. Be sure to check out the newsletter for more details on our upcoming Virtual Black Partner Panel and Parts 2 and 3 of the BWLA Civil Rights Action Committee's Virtual Town Hall Series.

Finally, BWLA is gearing up for our annual Sips for Scholarships fundraiser event on November 12, 2020, which will be virtual this year. The event will include a silent auction, wine tasting and food packages, entertainment, and other surprises! I made the ultimate sacrifice and tested the wine package for you, and trust me when I say you do not want to miss out on this event! We will also announce our Fall Book Award recipients at Sips and this is just one example of the many ways BWLA supports law students. Also, if you are a business owner who would like to contribute items for the silent auction please contact me at bwlakenyatta@gmail.com. If you would like to purchase items or gift cards for donation to the silent auction--that is an option as well.

Check out the rest of the newsletter to see what BWLA has been up to and what we have coming up in October. Also, take a look at our job postings if you are searching for a new position!

Kenyatta S. Beverly
2020-2021 BWLA President

Upcoming Events
BWLA Virtual Town Hall Series:
Parts Two and Three

The BWLA Civil Rights Action Committee is hosting 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.

Save the dates and register below for Parts 2 and 3!

Part Two:
Political Advocacy in the State of Illinois 

October 7, 2020 at 6:00 p.m.
In Part Two of this series, elected state officials will highlight current and proposed legislative (or other) efforts to address criminal justice reform and any other related efforts they have advanced in their respective districts/wards.


Era Laudermilk, Deputy of Legislative Affairs, Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender


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

Senator Christopher Belt, IL Senate, 57th District


Part Three:
Advancing Reform in Chicago

October 21, 2020 at 6:00 p.m.

In the final installment of this three-part series, city officials will highlight the current strategy to adequately address criminal justice reform, and BWLA members will seek guidance on how we can contribute to current efforts.


Tiffany Sanders Sostrin, Director of Legislative and Community Affairs, Chicago Park District


Alderman Chris Taliaferro, 29th Ward

Alderwoman Leslie Hairston, 5th Ward

Walter Katz, Vice President of Criminal Justice, Arnold Ventures

We hope you will join us for what will continue to be an incredible series!

Black Partner Panel: Building and Sustaining Your Business Development Network

Thursday, October 15, 2020
3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. (Virtual)

Join us for the Corporate Counsel Committee's Black Partner Panel event! This event will include a lively and enlightening discussion between Black partners from different law firms who will candidly share their unique paths to partnership.

Insight will be provided on business development methods, how to navigate the firm environment, and common pitfalls to avoid. You do not want to miss this event!

Keep an eye out for updates on this exciting event in future BWLA communications!


Hon. Patricia Brown Holmes, Partner, Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP

Gerald L. Pauling
Partner, Seyfarth Shaw LLP

LaKeisha C. Marsh
Partner, Akerman LLP

Bobby Earles
Partner, Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Consider Serving As An Election Judge!
The outcome of the fast-approaching November 3, 2020 election is essential to our country's future! Now more than ever, we should seek to be engaged in the process.

In addition to spreading the word on voters' rights, consider serving as an Election Judge. The application can be found here.
Past Events
Annual School Supply Drive

Thanks to the generosity of BWLA's membership the BWLA Scholarship Fund Board was able to purchase school supplies, gloves, and hats for distribution to the children of women housed at a Chicagoland Domestic Violence Shelter, as well as students from Victoria Soto High School and Major Hector P. Garcia M.D. High School.

BWLA could not support our community without the selfless donations of our membership. We are so grateful for your consistent support!

Donations to the Scholarship Fund Board help us to provide scholarships to law students and support the community through our School Supply Drive, our upcoming Coat Drive, and other service projects throughout the year. If you are interested in donating please contribute here.
Virtual Annual Fundraiser Panel

BWLA hosted its first-ever virtual Annual Fundraiser on September 3rd.

The panel discussion was a tremendous success! Nearly 300 attendees enjoyed hearing from the esteemed moderator and panelists as they discussed their roads to politics and how they leverage their unique role as women of color politicians to advocate for social, economic, and criminal justice reform.

Did you miss the Fundraiser?

Would you like to watch it again?

Click here and enter Passcode
!BWLA2020! to experience a wonderful moment in BWLA's history!
BWLA Fall General Membership Meeting

On Wednesday, September 16, 2020, BWLA held its Fall General Membership Meeting.

Many thanks to our members for showing up in great numbers, and a special thank you to our guest speakers Lindsay C. Jenkins, Criminal Chief of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of IllinoisJoy L. Monahan, Associate Director, Legal Diversity and Outside Counsel Programs at AbbVie Inc.; and Jane Reardon, Executive Director, Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism.

The Fall Meeting may be over, but it's not too late to get involved in BWLA!

Please click here to review BWLA's Committees. If you are interested in volunteering for a Committee, you can sign up here!

Part One: Community Activism

On September 23, 2020, BWLA's Civil Rights Action Committee hosted Part One of the Committee's three-part Town Hall Series.

In Part One of the Series, local community activists (Ameena Matthews, Tio Hardiman, and DuShaun Branch Pollard) provided their perspectives regarding the state of the City of Chicago, including how their efforts have made an impact, challenges they have encountered, and opportunities to engage with BWLA to advance strategic initiatives.
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:

  • Attorney Supervisor at the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender (2 positions available)

  • Director of Labor Relations at Acero Charter Schools, Inc.

  • Assistant Director, Legal Careers at Northwestern University's Pritzker School of Law

  • In-House Counsel opportunities at AbbVie Inc

  • Chief Diversity Officer at the Office of the Governor

  • Director of Legal Diversity, Equity and Inclusion - Senior Counsel at McDonald's Corporation

  • Transportation Bureau Chief at the Illinois Commerce Commission

  • Commissioner Assistant/Legal & Policy Advisor at the Illinois Commerce Commission

  • Paralegal at the Law Offices of Modupe A. Sobo P.C. (Contact Ms. Sobo Directly here)

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

BWLA updates employment opportunities on our website (www.bwla.org) bi-monthly.

Email a direct weblink for all employment opportunities to administrator@bwla.org.

BWLA Member Achievements
Congratulations to BWLA President Kenyatta Beverly on her new position as Labor and Employment Counsel at The Davey Tree Expert Company!
Congratulations to Judge Lashonda A. Hunt on being featured in the Chicago Bar Association's Young Lawyers Section's @theBar blog which profiles past winners of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin's 40 Under Forty awards. Check out the article detailing Judge Hunt's career journey here.
Congratulations to BWLA Past President Erica Kirkwood for being named to the 2020 Chicago Daily Law Bulletin & Chicago Lawyer 40 Under Forty list of attorneys to watch in Illinois!
Congratulations to Gray Mateo-Harris on joining Fox Rothschild LLP as an Equity Partner! Only 3% of equity partners in BigLaw are women of color. Way to go working to increase that number, Gray!
Congratulations to Nakhia Morrissette! She received the Energy News Network 40 Under 40 Award. Each year, this national publication highlights emerging leaders and their work in the United States’ transition to a clean energy economy.
Congratulations to Michelle Silverthorn on the recent release of her book Authentic Diversity: How to Change the Workplace! Get your copy here.
Congratulations to Judge Franklin Ulyses Valderrama! He was confirmed to serve as a federal judge for the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois. He is the first black male to be appointed to the bench in the NDIL in over two decades!
BWLA Member Spotlight
Samya Abdela

Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP
BWLA Scholarship Fund Board Member and Committee Chair, Samya, shares why BWLA matters to her:

"BWLA is important because especially during these times, a space for Black women attorneys to fellowship, grieve together and support one another is critical.

As one of the least diverse professions, it is career-altering to have a group of people that champion you, push you forward and elevate you to the next level.

As someone who moved to Chicago in 2018 with no family and only a couple of friends, BWLA has allowed me to find a community of like-minded women who have so graciously taken me under their wing and mentored me. I look forward to continuing to develop long-lasting relationships with the members of this fine organization."
Complete this APPLICATION!

Deadline October 14, 2020 at 11:59pm CST.

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

This is a 1-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 along 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 is Excited to Announce the Formation of the 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 michellesieger@gmail.com 
to express interest. 
Events Around Town
Monday, October 12, 2020

7-8:00 pm

One Magical Evening

Wednesday, October 14th

12-1:00 pm

Lawyers Rock Hall of Fame

Friday, October 16th

3:30-5:00 pm

Cocktail Hour Celebration

Kenya Jenkins-Wright
Dr. Mary Milano
David B. Sosin
Simmons Hanly Conroy

Click here to get your tickets!
Click here to download the above flyer.
Click here to download the above flyer.
Thank You To Our 
2020 Fundraiser Sponsors