PLDIC Selects Ena Lebel as Its Next Executive Director
The Board of Directors of the Pittsburgh Legal Diversity & Inclusion Coalition (PLDIC) has selected Ena Lebel to serve as its second Executive Director, succeeding Susan Yohe, who helped form the Coalition and has led it since 2017. The Board selected Lebel after she was unanimously recommended by the ED Search Committee, led by the Honorable J. Nicholas Ranjan, U.S. District Court Judge in the Western District of Pennsylvania, who also helped form the Coalition. The eight-person committee considered 13 applicants for the position, conducted initial screening interviews with eight candidates, and invited three finalists to submit references and a statement setting forth their vision for the future of the Coalition. After extended interviews with the finalists, Lebel emerged as the Committee’s top pick.

Judge Ranjan hailed the hours of thoughtful deliberation put in by the Search Committee, describing it as a “great team” that he was proud to be part of. Other members of the Committee were: Don Bluedorn, Managing Partner of Babst Calland and PLDIC Board Chair; Dean Amy Wildermuth of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and Dean April Barton of Duquesne University School of Law, both members of the PLDIC Board; Andrea Clark-Smith, Associate Chief Legal Officer of UPMC; Keith Whitson, Managing Partner of the Schnader Pittsburgh office; and Mark Phillis, Shareholder at Littler.

Bluedorn described the three finalists for the PLDIC position as all “highly qualified” and echoed Judge Ranjan’s gratitude for the thoughtfulness of the deliberations leading to Lebel’s selection. On behalf of the Board, he stated, “We look forward to continuing to further the Coalition’s mission under her leadership and guidance.”
Get to Know Ena Lebel, the PLDIC’s New Executive Director
Growing up in Cleveland, Ena Lebel lived simultaneously in two very different worlds. With her family, she was part of a robust Indian immigrant community. At her elementary school, she was the only ethnically diverse child and remembers her schoolmates asking her what kind of Indian she was and having to explain that she was not the kind of Indian they thought she was. Although her family moved after she completed eighth grade to a somewhat more diverse school district, it was not until she went off to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania for her undergraduate years that she found herself in a truly diverse environment. Yes, it was “culture shock,” but after experiencing the riches of diversity, she found it impossible to turn back.

Ena met her husband at Wharton and found herself in Pittsburgh after a stint at Deloitte in NYC, law school at American University in D.C., and five years at Faegre Drinker in Philadelphia when her husband was offered a position in the Katz Business School at the University of Pittsburgh. She was not unfamiliar with the ‘Burgh, having come here monthly as a child to visit her father’s brothers and her cousins and go to the Hindu temple. Ena threw herself enthusiastically into her new home, volunteering with several community-based organizations and eventually landing a job as a corporate attorney with Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky, a Coalition member.

Since coming to Pittsburgh, Ena has participated in the ACBA’s minority mentoring program, been named a member of the Women in the Law Division’s Gender Bias Subcommittee, and joined a committee encouraging the incorporation of implicit bias training into every CJE program. But wait, that’s not all! She also serves on the board of Healthy Start, Inc., Western Pennsylvania’s preeminent organization supporting maternal and child health, serving as president of the board for the last three years, as a 3 Cups of Coffee mentor for PA Women Work, and a mentor for new moms for NurturePA, a text messaging-based platform focused on promoting infant mental health and early literacy by way of maternal support. But wait, there's more! She’s also on the board of the Women’s Law Project and even found time when she was a stay-at-home mom to volunteer to research and draft a report on the disparate impact of the assignment process in law firms on women and diverse lawyers for the University of California Hastings College of the Law, Center for WorkLife Law and its director, Professor Joan Williams.

After leaving Strassburger McKenna in 2020, Ena has worked for Common Impact, Inc., serving as an engagement manager facilitating relationships between non-profit organizations and multinational corporations through skills-based volunteerism.

Reflecting on her path to the position of PLDIC Executive Director, Ena explained, “My passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion stems from the fact that I have always worked in environments where my colleagues’ and clients’ backgrounds were dissimilar from my own. Most of the time, I am the only person of color in the room or the meeting, and very often, I am the only woman in the room.”

Ena sees the PLDIC poised to move from education to action. She wants to reinvigorate the PLDIC’s committees after the long Covid hiatus and bring similarly-situated members together to share best practices. “I believe through candid discussions, sharing through thoughtful and regular follow-ups … in conjunction with practical training from experts, we will tangibly move the needle on diversity efforts in our law firms and law departments.” Ena also hopes to expand the Coalition’s cooperation with other diversity-focused organizations throughout the city.

Ena lives with her husband and two children in Squirrel Hill. There’s lots to share between spouses about diversity, equity and inclusion as Ena’s husband is the co-chair of the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Task Force for the Katz Business School!
Please Join Us in Welcoming Ena to the Coalition
Members: please take a few moments to fill out the survey linked below and offer a welcome message for Ena, any feedback about the PLDIC, and ideas for future programming. We also encourage you to email her and connect with her on LinkedIn.
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