April 2021 Newsletter
President's Message
Happy Spring, BWLA Family!

I hope you take a moment to get outside today because the weather is absolutely glorious! I love the Spring season, and not just for the warm weather and blooming flowers. For me, it is also beautiful because Spring symbolizes new beginnings and renewed energy. I hope you are feeling energized and ready to experience new adventures and attack challenges with enthusiasm.

Last month was a super fun month for BWLA! While BWLA always provides our membership with stellar professional development programming, we also know how to let our hair down and have a great time! We did just that with the BWLA Scholarship Fund Board's inaugural virtual Ladies' Night In social fundraiser event. At a time when many are fatigued with attending virtual events, attendance was phenomenal and we had a blast chilling in our comfy pajamas while making cocktails, appetizers, learning makeup application tips, and just hanging out! This event was good for the soul while serving the dual purpose of raising money to support law students and the Chicago community. I am fortunate to have so many sisters in BWLA and I truly enjoyed everyone! Thanks for allowing me to be one of your amateur bartenders!

Speaking of fun, BWLA is EXCITED to announce our FIRST IN-PERSON event of the bar year, a private and socially distanced Sip & Paint on Thursday, April 15th at Museica's Sip & Paint Art Studio! Drinks, paint, and canvas will be provided to in-person attendees. This event will also have a virtual option for those who would like to pick up their materials from Museica's and enjoy the event from the comfort of their homes. I don't know about you, but I am ridiculously excited to begin gathering in small and socially distanced groups after over a year of virtual events! Check out the newsletter for additional details and instructions on how to secure your ticket today!

BWLA knows how to bring the fun, but we also know how to bring the professional development (also fun!). Join us on April 22nd for our virtual event, Black Partner Panel: Building and Sustaining Your Business Development Network. Check out the newsletter for more details on this event, including our lineup of stellar Black women attorneys who will sit on the panel. CLE credit will be provided for this event.

As always, I encourage you to review the Employment Opportunities located at the end of this newsletter. At last count, the section contained nearly 40 opportunities from employers who are interested in BWLA's accomplished members. Speaking of accomplished members, be sure to check out the BWLA Member Achievements section because our members are killing the game--no surprise there!

Kenyatta S. Beverly
2020-2021 BWLA President

In Loving Memory
Attorney Briana Jenee Mayes

December 8, 1990 - February 28, 2021
The Black Women Lawyers' Association of Greater Chicago, Inc. celebrates the life of Attorney Briana J. Mayes. Briana was a beautiful, intelligent, and kind young woman. This is a tremendous loss and we offer our sincerest condolences and prayers to Briana's family and friends. BWLA will always remember Briana's bright smile and appreciate her service to our organization.

Briana always loved to travel and was exposed to the world at an early age with her parents working in the travel and hospitality industries. As a result, Briana grew up traveling around the world. She continued her travel adventures as an adult, visiting amazing countries such as Amsterdam, Turkey, Aruba, Greece, Bali, and France in addition to many others.

In memory of Briana's life, her law firm, Seyfarth Shaw LLP, is collaborating with The Make A Wish foundation to provide a critically ill child with an adventure of a lifetime to a chosen destination. We encourage you to support this endeavor by donating HERE. You may also plant a memorial tree in Briana's honor HERE.
Upcoming Events
2021 Spring Essay Scholarship
The application deadline for the 2021 Spring Essay Scholarship is fast approaching.

Please submit your application by THIS FRIDAY!

Help BWLA to support our law students through spreading the word to eligible law students!

Application and submission instructions can be found
Sip and Paint

Thursday, April 15, 2021
6pm - 9pm

Museica's Sip & Paint Art Studio

2052 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL 60647
The BWLA Member Services Committee cordially invites you to an evening of fun and creativity!

We are partnering with a minority owned business, Museica's Sip & Paint, to host a private in-person and virtual Black woman lawyer inspired sip and paint class!

The goal for the night is to have lots of fun, while mixing and mingling and exploring your creative side. No prior artistic skills or experience required! The class will be beginner friendly, and you will be sure to come away with a painting you can be proud of.

If you plan to join us in-person, there is no need to BYOB as drinks will be provided. For all in-person attendees, your paint and canvas will be provided for you onsite.

For all virtual attendeesMuseica's Sip & Paint provides free store pickup for your paint and canvas.

Purchase your ticket HERE!
Black Partner Panel: Building and Sustaining Your Business Development Network
Please join us for a powerhouse panel of Black Women Partners discussing diversity in the legal profession and their individual paths to partnership, highlighting the career and business development strategies that keep them at the top of their game.

Thursday, April 22, 2021
5:00pm - 6:00pm

Register HERE today!

If you have any questions, please contact Julianne Holdsberg at jholdsberg@seyfarth.com and reference this event.

*This program is pending for CLE credit in CA, IL, and NY. All other jurisdictions will be applied for as requested, but please note that not all states allow for distance learning, so some states will be ineligible.

To request CLE credit, please fill out the attendance verification form and return it to CLE@seyfarth.com.

If you have questions about jurisdictions, please email CLE@seyfarth.com. Please note that in order to receive full credit for attending each webinar, the registrant must be present for the entire session.
Women Everywhere and BWLA are Seeking Volunteers for Education Days!

Women Everywhere (“WE”) is seeking volunteers for its annual Education Days scheduled for April 20 and April 29.

BWLA is thrilled to continue its support of WE. Every year WE provides high school girls with a positive introduction to our judicial system. The students have the wonderful opportunity to engage with judges and attorneys. This year, Education Days are virtual, and your assistance in facilitating is appreciated!

If interested, please contact Weeya Young (weeya.young@gmail.com) or Sharon Ferguson (sachaten@sbcglobal.netby April 10, 2021 for instructions on the registration process. 
Events Around Town
Virtual Summit:
Driving Diversity in Law & Leadership

Wednesday, May 19, 2021
9:00 am - 4:00 pm

CenterForce Conferences USA, Inc. cordially invites in-house counsel and corporate executive leaders to attend its FREE Diversity & Inclusion conference! Join other attorneys as we explore the obstacles, risks, and rewards on the path to a fulfilling and productive career for women and minority leaders.

Speakers will include leading attorneys from JPMorgan Chase, Capital One, Uber, Accenture, Box, US Foods, Patterson Companies, Albertsons Companies and many other companies!

Learn more about the conference and register for FREE HERE !

3.75 HRS IL STATE CLE Approved
Past Events
Clips and Conversations

On March 3, 2021 BWLA had the honor of hosting Girlfriends star, Jill Marie Jones and Black-ish and How to Get Away with Murder star, Maahra Hill, during Clips and Conversations, a virtual screening of the new OWN television series, Delilah.

BWLA's members enjoyed the exclusive screening and interacting with Jill and Maahra!
BWLA Ladies' Night In

On March 25, 2021, BWLA's Scholarship Fund Board hosted a fun evening with the ladies! We enjoyed making signature cocktails and appetizers together and BWLA's very own Lora Whitticker taught us how to beat our faces for the courtroom or happy hour!

This was a wonderful event and we hope that our attendees had as much fun as we did! Shout out to Lori Roper for winning the pajama contest! We also hope that Sahara Bell, BWLA Board Member at Large Era Laudermilk, and BWLA Past President Mary Melchor enjoy their door prizes!

Proceeds from this event benefitted the Scholarship Fund Board which allows BWLA to provide scholarships and grants to law students, as well as serve the Chicago community!
Employment Opportunities
BWLA recently added the following employment opportunities to the BWLA Job Board:

  • Attorney at The Social Security Administration, Office of the General Counsel, Office of the Regional Chief Counsel

Law Student Opportunities

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 O. Hanna Badmus on her promotion to Senior Director, Global Employment Law at Upwork!
Congratulations to Sharon Barner for being promoted to Vice President, Chief Administrative Office & Corporate Secretary at Cummins, Inc.!
Congratulations to BWLA President Kenyatta Beverly on her selection by Girls Inc. of Chicago as a 2020-2021 She Shines Honoree!

Congratulations are also in order for Kenyatta being awarded the ACTION Award by the Glenn T. Johnson Chapter of the UIC John Marshall Law School's Black Law Students Association!
Congratulations to BWLA Past President and Scholarship Fund Board Chair Chastidy Burns on her new position as Counsel for the United States Senate Judiciary Committee under its new Chair, U.S. Senator Richard Durbin!
Congratulations to BWLA Immediate Past President Kalia Coleman on being awarded the ACTION Award by the Glenn T. Johnson Chapter of the UIC John Marshall Law School's Black Law Students Association!
Congratulations to BWLA Vice President Nakhia Crossley on being awarded the ACTION Award by the Glenn T. Johnson Chapter of the UIC John Marshall Law School's Black Law Students Association!
Congratulations to Tiffany Cunningham on her nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit by President Joseph R. Biden!

When confirmed, Tiffany will be the first Black judge on the D.C. based Federal Circuit, the only U.S. appeals court that never had a Black jurist. Tiffany is a trailblazer and BWLA is incredibly proud of her.
Congratulations to Suheily Natal Davis on being selected for NegociosNow's Latinos 40 Under 40 Chicago Class of 2020!
Congratulations to Rita McNeil Danish George on her appointment to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission!
Congratulations to Ava George Stewart on starting a new position as Chief of the Misdemeanor and Traffic Divisions at the Lake County State's Attorney's Office!
Congratulations to Ama Gyimah on starting a new position as a Healthcare Litigation Associate Attorney at Reed Smith LLP!
Congratulations to Justice Shelvin Louise Marie Hall, Ret. on receiving the 2021 CCBA Legends Award!

Congratulations are also in order for Justice Hall being appointed as the first African American Woman Chair of the First District Illinois Appellate Court's Executive Committee!
Congratulations to BWLA Past President Tiffany Harper on her new position as Lead, Strategy & Operations at Twitter!
Congratulations to Candace Jackson-Akiwumi on her nomination to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals by President Joseph R. Biden!

This is an incredible accomplishment and we could not be prouder of Candace! The Seventh Circuit currently has no Black judges. When confirmed, Candace will be only the second Black woman to serve the court after BWLA Founder Judge Ann Claire Williams, who retired in 2018.
Congratulations to Candace Jackson on starting a new position as Associate General Counsel, Corporate at Aerion Supersonic!
Congratulations to Precious Jacobs-Perry on being elevated to Equity Partner at Jenner & Block LLP!
Congratulations to BWLA Past President and Scholarship Fund Board Member Erica Kirkwood on being included in the NAAAHR Chicago Women in HR 2021 Honoree List!
Congratulations to BWLA Board Member at Large Era Laudermilk on here promotion to Chief of Staff at The Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender!
Congratulations to BWLA Roundtable Committee Co-Chair Jordan Matthews on her new position as Of Counsel at Jones Day!
Congratulations to Vy'Shaey M. Mitchell on her new position as a Labor & Employment Associate at Seyfarth Shaw LLP!
Congratulations to Markena D. Peavy on her promotion to Senior Counsel, U.S. Personal and Business Banking at BMO Financial Group!
Congratulations to BWLA Past President Z Scott on being named to the Board of Trustees at the Shedd Aquarium!
Congratulations to Katila Smith on starting a new position as Assistant General Counsel at American Family Insurance!
Congratulations to Erika Weaver on her new position as an Assistant State Attorney in Champaign County!
BWLA Member Spotlight
Jade Peeples, MS SPMT

Juris Doctor Candidate, May 2023

UIC John Marshall Law School
Jade shares why BWLA matters to her:

"BWLA means so much to me as a 1L.

I attended my first meeting during the pandemic and was encouraged by the virtual powerhouse of women in attendance. I am most inspired by the authenticity. I appreciate the fact that I can consistently show up as my true self while connecting with like-minded individuals. 

Staring law school as a first-generation student has not been easy but I have felt supported and uplifted by BWLA. The events feel inclusive and although I am just beginning this journey, I feel I am an important part of the organization as a student. The fact that many members of the BWLA community have willingly taken the time to speak with me one on one about my career path is empowering. I consistently thank God for connecting me to women willing to make positive contributions to my growth as an attorney. 

I look forward to continually being a giving member. The opportunities to give back are endless and I have found that BWLA consistently continues to help increase the pipeline of Black lawyers. Thank you BWLA for all that you do. Law students like me are forever grateful for your continued support."

JEC Needs You!

The Judicial Evaluation Committee (JEC) is in need of several volunteers to aid in the judicial evaluation process. Volunteers will attend judicial candidate interviews (virtually) and submit an evaluation form to Venus Brown, BWLA's JEC Chair. If you are interested in serving as a volunteer, please sign up here.

Additionally, JEC is in dire need of investigators to investigate applicants before the interview process begins. You must be a two-year or more licensed attorney and have completed investigator training to serve as an investigator. Investigator training is good for ten years. If you are a trained investigator or have interest in becoming one, please contact Venus M. at venusmercedes82@gmail.com.
The Force of Lawyers Against Sexual Harassment (FLASH)

BWLA is a proud member of FLASH, a taskforce of Illinois legal professionals united to study and make recommendations to and to combat the prevalence of sexism, sex-based discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual assault in the Illinois legal community through direct advocacy, policy implementation, education and peer support.

Click HERE to learn more about FLASH and how you can get involved!
Several Chicago area Bar Associations, led by BWLA, are joining together to demand that the University of Illinois Board of Trustees act swiftly to address and eradicate an environment at the University of Illinois at Chicago John Marshall Law School (UIC-JMLS) that has caused students of color to feel mistreated based on race and ignored by the UIC-JMLS administration.
Read the full joint statement HERE.
NELC In-House Counsel Accelerator Program

The National Employment Law Council ("NELC") invites applications to participate in the In-House Counsel Accelerator Program (“ICAP”)

NELC is a non-profit organization charged with enriching minority bar members who represent management in the field of labor and employment law

ICAP is designed to assist new in-house counsel of color in transitioning to and building a successful career as part of a corporate law department. ICAP is open to minority attorneys practicing management-side labor and employment law, with two years or less experience working in-house. 

ICAP will provide participants with career advancement skills in an intensive and interactive six-hour series of presentations and discussions with seasoned in-house practitioners while also exposing participants to the NELC’s national network of experienced minority labor and employment attorneys. All ICAP participants will be matched with more senior in-house mentors. Space in the 2021 ICAP is limited. The deadline to apply is Friday, April 23, 2021.

Application instructions can be found HERE!
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!
Property Tax Payment Deadline Extended and Details on Potential Refunds

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas recently announced that the deadline for payment of property taxes (first installment) has been extended to May 3, 2021 with no late fee. More information can be found HERE.

Additionally, homeowners should visit www.cookcountytreasurer.com for more details on their tax bills and potential overpayment refunds. More information can be found HERE.
Thank You To Our 
2020 Fundraiser Sponsors