February 2021 Newsletter
President's Message
Happy Black History Month, everyone!

The month of February provides an opportunity to be intentional in our appreciation of all that Black men and women have contributed to American society. The innovation and resilience of Black people has left an indelible imprint on this country, with Blacks contributing to society in every area. Our Black ancestors built this country in the midst of facing staggering inequities. We should never forget the impact of Blacks on the U.S.A., and always remember that Black History is American History. We should be proud and celebrate the Black Excellence that we and our ancestors exemplify, every day. Speaking of Black Excellence, we witnessed it last month as the first Black and Southeast Asian Vice President, Kamala Harris, was sworn in to serve with President Joseph R. Biden! What a powerful moment to witness Vice President Harris shatter the glass ceiling.

In January, BWLA celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. BWLA partnered with The Decalogue Society of Lawyers and the Cook County Bar Association to co-host a viewing of "Just Mercy" followed by an enlightening discussion of the legal and moral issues raised in the film. BWLA also started a donation drive to benefit a homeless shelter that we regularly support, Deborah's Place. The donation drive is ongoing and will conclude on February 19th. Check out the newsletter for details on how you can support the shelter and the BWLA Scholarship Fund Board by making inexpensive donation purchases using Amazon Smile!

BWLA members had a blast at the Winter Warm-Up event, co-hosted with other minority bar associations. Our members enjoyed keynote remarks from BWLA Founder Sharon Jones, learned more about the work of Just The Beginning - A Pipeline Organization, and sipped on gourmet hot cocoa provided as a surprise (along with cookies!) before the event.

To close out January, BWLA participated in DePaul University College of Law's Multi-Bar Association Fair. I truly enjoyed meeting so many law students and discussing all things BWLA with them--including scholarship opportunities!

Check out the rest of the newsletter to learn about upcoming events, opportunities, and the phenomenal accomplishments of our members. If you are in the market for a new job, head over to the Employment Opportunities section of the newsletter where tons of jobs have been listed! Also, if you are a law school graduate who will be taking the Bar Examination, the newsletter details an opportunity to receive $500 in financial assistance. There is so much great information in this month's newsletter--enjoy!

Kenyatta S. Beverly
2020-2021 BWLA President

Upcoming Events
BWLA's Solo & Small Firms Committee invite you to join us for

Thriving in a Pandemic

February 18, 2021
5:00 - 6:30 pm

Please join us for an informative panel discussion featuring Black women solo practitioners who will provide advice on how to ensure the success of a small law firm during these unprecedented times.


Ashonta Rice Akiwowo, Founder, Akiwowo Law Group, PC


Renea Amen, Partner, Bur-Men Law Group PC

Katrice Matthews, Partner, Sable Law Group LLC

Lisa McLeod, Founder, McLeod Law Group

Masah SamForay, Founder, The Foray Law Firm
Events Around Town
The National Forum for Black Public Administrators


A Virtual Public Policy Forum: Reforms that Matter

February 16, 2021
6:00 pm

The event will feature remarks by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Register HERE.
The National Association of Women Lawyers' Mid-Year Meeting: Finding Resilience and Protecting Your Purpose in 2021

March 25th and 26th, 2021
5:00 - 6:30 pm

Register HERE.

BWLA Members may use promo code "21MYBWLA" for 10% off!
Past Events
"Just Mercy" Viewing and Panel Discussion

In Honor
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On Thursday, January 14, 2021 BWLA joined the Decalogue Society of Lawyers and Cook County Bar Association to view "Just Mercy" followed by a discussion of legal, ethical, professional, and moral issued raised by the movie.

Many thanks to BWLA Scholarship Fund Board Chairwoman Chastidy Burns for representing BWLA during the discussion.
The Winter Warm-Up: Virtual Edition!

On January 21, 2021, BWLA, the Seventh Circuit Bar Association, Chicago Committee on Minorities in Large Law Firms, Lesbian and Gay Bar Association, and CBA YLS Racial Justice Coalition hosted the Winter Warm-Up!

Attendees enjoyed listening to remarks from BWLA Founder Sharon Jones, CEO, Jones Diversity and learning more about the work of Just The Beginning - A Pipeline Organization.

Attendees were also gifted a treat box to enjoy hot cocoa (spiked or not) and delicious cookies to enjoy during the event!
DePaul University College of Law's
Multi-Bar Association Fair

On January 29, 2021, BWLA President Kenyatta Beverly presented during DePaul's Multi-Bar Association Fair.

Law students learned about the history of BWLA, scholarship opportunities, professional development programming, and networking events!
Employment Opportunities
BWLA recently added the following employment opportunities to the BWLA Job Board:

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.
In honor of Black History Month check out a few "firsts" and examples of Black Excellence! Many of these inventions make our lives a whole lot easier!

  • Charlotte E. Ray was the first Black woman lawyer in the US in 1872

  • Sarah Boone invented the ironing board

  • Garrett Morgan invented the three-light traffic light

  • Dr. Charles Drew invented the blood bank in 1940

  • Madame C.J. Walker was the first Black Millionaire

  • Judge Jane Bolin was the first Black female judge in the US in 1939

  • Frederick McKinley invented refrigerated trucks

  • Alexander Miles invented automatic elevator doors that open and close

  • Marie Van Brittan Brown invented the home security system

  • Toni Morrison was the first Black woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993

  • Constance Baker Motley became the first Black woman federal judge, 1966

  • John Mercer Langston was the first Black male lawyer in the US in 1854

  • Robert Johnson became the first Black billionaire in 2001

  • Philip Emeagwali invented the world's first super computer in 1989

  • Elijah McCoy invented a lubricating cup to make train travel more efficient in 1872. There were so many imitations of the lubricating cup that railroad engineers insisted on receiving the authentic device by referring to it as "The Real McCoy"
BWLA Member Achievements
Congratulations to BWLA Treasurer Amber Bennett on her new position as an Associate Attorney at Mayer Brown LLP!
Congratulations to BWLA Past President Kalia Coleman on her promotion to Deputy Chief in the General Crimes Section at the United States Attorneys'​ Office for the Northern District of Illinois!
Congratulations to Jennifer Ballard Croft on starting a new position as Chief Legal and Human Resources Officer at INTREN, LLC!
Congratulations to Kimberly Cross on her new adventure as a Judicial Intern at the Illinois Appellate Court, First District!
Congratulations to Leslie Davis on being named the Chief Executive Officer of The National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF)!
Congratulations to Shirley M. Dawson on her promotion to Associate General Counsel, Clinical Research, at Advocate Aurora Health!
Congratulations to L. Michael Flanagan on being named a 2021 Rising Star by Illinois Super Lawyers in the area of personal injury law for the second year in a row!
Congratulations to BWLA Past President Nathalina A. Hudson on her promotion to Chief of Staff at the Illinois Attorney General's Office!
Congratulations to Elaine L. Little on her new position as Inspector General at the Chicago Park District!
Congratulations to Jaylin D. McClinton on being selected as a law student mentor with Bridge Builders Esq.! Jaylin was also selected as a Legal Intern for the ACLU of Illinois Public Interest Law Initiative!
Congratulations to Ami Scott on her new position as Consultant and Coach at Volta Talent Strategies!
Congratulations to Savannah West on her new position as Law Clerk at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Affiliates!
Congratulations to Black Men Lawyers' Association Chairman Michael Wilder on being appointed to The Board of Directors for Littler Mendelson, P.C.!
Congratulations to Nicole Wright for starting a new position as Executive Director & Assistant General Counsel at JPMorgan Chase & Co.!
BWLA Member Spotlight
Sharon Ferguson

Senior Policy Advisor - Chief Procurement Office, Higher Education

State of Illinois Executive Ethics Commission
Sharon shares why BWLA matters to her:

"The Black Women Lawyers' Association exemplifies servant leadership. BWLA epitomizes what it means to give back to the community in every capacity. That is why I have been a proud member of this organization for over 15 years. 

Whether it is through its empowering programming, generous scholarship funding, or collaboration with other organizations that uphold the same principles, BWLA strives to equip women and men with the tools to not just survive, but to thrive.

Over the years I have had the privilege to participate in the BWLA family in a number of capacities, including as a Board Member and Scholarship Fund Board Member. I've had the honor of serving on a number of committees. Every experience has provided a wonderful opportunity to serve."
Deborah's Place Homeless Shelter Donation Drive Ends Soon!
BWLA’s Community Service and Outreach Committee honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy by supporting our local community. Please consider donating to Deborah's Place , an organization that provides housing and services to homeless women in Chicago. Donations will be collected starting today through February 19.

BWLA encourages supporters to purchase items using smile.amazon.com. If you do not have an Amazon Smile account, please create one at smile.amazon.com. Once logged in, search for and select “Black Women Lawyers Association Scholarship Fund” as your charity. Amazon will donate 0.5% of your purchased item's price to BWLA’s Scholarship Fund Board

Desired items include sanitary napkins, body wash, hand soap, deodorant, toilet paper, shampoo, conditioner, African-American hair care products, notebooks, pencils and pens.

When checking out, please use the following address for shipping:

Development Department (BWLA Chicago)
Deborah’s Place
2822 W Jackson Blvd
Chicago, IL 60612
If you have any questions contact the BWLA Administrator at administrator@bwla.org.
2021 BWLA
Directors Institute!
The mission of the BWLA Directors Institute is to assist seasoned Black women attorneys with raising their profile and preparing for roles as board members on city, county, state, federal, non-profit and corporate boards. 

Program participants will have a rare opportunity to engage with corporate board members, board recruiters, government executives and decision makers through intimate panels and skills-based workshops. 

Applications are in high demand and only a small number of fellows will be chosen.  
 Apply here by February 28, 2021.
Email completed applications to BWLADirectorsInstitute@gmail.

The Community Fund for Black Bar Applicants

Do you need help paying for 2021 Bar Examination costs? Are you Black, African-American, or Pan African?

If you answered "yes" to these questions, apply for $500 in financial assistance here!
BWLA T-Shirt Design Contest Winner Selected!

BWLA's T-Shirt Design Contest ended on January 22, 2021. Keep an eye out as BWLA will reveal the winner soon!
Thank You To Our 
2020 Fundraiser Sponsors
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