| August 2022 |

Annual Diversity & Inclusion Champion Award Gala|October 27, 2022

The annual New York City Bar Association Diversity & Inclusion Champion Award seeks to recognize individuals whose actions and activities within New York City's legal community embody and advance the New York City Bar’s Statement of Diversity Principles. Diversity champions are critical for creating lasting change in organizations and establishing an inclusive work environment. 

The New York City Bar Association presents the Diversity & Inclusion Champion Awards at its Annual Diversity and Inclusion Celebration Dinner.

We are currently accepting nominations in the following areas thru Monday, August 15:

  • Academia
  • Government
  • Non-Profit

For more information on nomination, please contact Mary Ellen LaRosa, Diveristy & Inclusion Cooridnator.

To learn how you or your firm can become involved, reach out to Angie Avila, Development & Communications Manager. 

Nominate a Diversity Champion
Become a Diversity Advocate

Canaan Hermonstyne, ODEIB Intern


My name is Canaan Hermonstyne I am an intern for the office for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging. Otherwise known as ODEIB I am a senior at John Jay College of Criminal justice who is aiming at becoming the greatest legal mind out there. I am from Rockaway Queens and My goal besides attaining personal achievements is to help the youth and disadvantaged members of my community prosper.

The word Diversity means to some people and hegemonic structures think of it as adding a token character or puppet. To me it’s about keeping a perspective and a voice inside the room to make balanced, equitable, and intuitive decisions. Throughout my time here as an intern I have been blessed with the opportunity to work for the Bar and its staff, but I have been recognized and my voice made important I am thankful for the efforts and the dedication of my team and the powerful culture changing work they do to shape the profession. My hope is to take what has been given to me from the office and it’s environment and multiply my efforts and abilities to make sure that I can raise the standard. 

Theodora Fleurant, ALI LITE Alum

ALI LITE alum Thoedora Fleurant of Cowan, Liebowitz, and Latman, P.C speaks on her experience with the program as well as what diversity means to her:

Participating in the 2022 Associate Leadership Institute (ALI) LITE Institute was a great opportunity for me. Due to the New York City Bar Association's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion's excellent social media promotion for its ALI program, I was curious as to whether there might be any future programs for junior attorneys like myself. I stumbled upon ALI LITE, reached out to the DEI team, was encouraged by one of my mentors to apply, and enrolled in the six-week program with my firm's support and sponsorship, Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman, P.C. One word that best describes my experience as an ALI LITE Fellow, would be plentiful. The DEI team organized an incredible virtual experience gathering panelists of leaders in the profession in various practice areas to teach critical professional development skills vital to the early stages of a junior associate building her career. They also provided a welcoming space for my colleagues and I to ask questions and network with one another. Reflecting on my journey with ALI LITE, I was relentless in honing necessary soft skills to develop the crucial habits needed to help me perform professional and deliver excellent results for clients. There was a wealth of information to take away, but ultimately, what I found foundational were the following:


1.      Always perform excellent work.

2.      Understand the client's business (I found this helpful especially tied to diversity)

3.      Be a good firm citizen to all individuals in your firm.

4.      Embrace feedback and be strategic about soliciting and leveraging it because it is essential to your growth as a junior attorney.

5.      Build the right group of mentors and sponsors necessary for your success professionally and personally.

6.      Network organically---- develop relationships over time when it is genuinely authentic.


As an ALI LITE Fellow, I not only learned these actionable "to-dos" but realized my cohort and I developed a new set of skills (and connections!) and we each have had a chance each week to put what we learned into practice at each of our respective firms.


What diversity means to me: Diversity is representation from all facets of life. As a child of two Haitian immigrants, one a nurse and the other, an engineer, living in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, the chances of becoming a type of professional were probable, but becoming an attorney in a law firm setting seemed limited. If it wasn’t for amazing academic pipeline programs such as the TEAK Fellowship or CUNY Law’s Pipeline to Justice program, my access to opportunities in the legal profession would have been stunted. However, programs like these helped pique my interest, ultimately leading me on my path to IP law and developing strong relationships with various practitioners. The best legal representation for a client is assuring the client that the lawyer responsible for handling their matters can bring a fresh perspective to the case, substantively and often culturally, and is empathetic to their needs at all times. Diversity in legal representation is even more critical to this duty because what we do as attorneys is essential, but why we do our work matters even more. There needs to be a co-existence of respect, belonging, and acceptance. Clients need to see firms represented from all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds because it exemplifies inclusiveness, equity and fairness. Prospective clients will hire firms if they see legal representation presented in all forms inclusive of one's creed, color, or gender. I hope the legal field realizes that diversity spurs innovation, creativity and a variety of opinions. This is especially important in particular fields of the law such as the massive intersection between law and tech. As an attorney who concentrates on trademark and copyright law, it is imperative to show competency in an ever-evolving area that requires immersing oneself in how brand protection is changing and how to advise clients strategically. If there is anything the pandemic and renewed focus on social justice is teaching us, it’s that clients want to see meaningful change. Meaningful change begins with not just seeing tangible results from work product but knowing that the work is produced by a diverse set of talented attorneys who can bring a wealth of perspective to matters and their colleagues.

Annick Niyonsaba, TMSLIP Intern

My name is Annick Niyonsaba, and I currently participate in the Thurgood Marshall Summer Law Internship Program. When I discovered this program and learned about their efforts to diversify the legal profession by placing underrepresented, public New York City high school students with legal employers throughout the summer, it piqued my interest. I applied when I realized that the goals of this program aligned with my own, especially as an individual who belongs to minority groups that have been historically underrepresented in this field. My ultimate objective during my internship is to learn more about various legal professionals and their responsibilities in the legal field. Additionally, I will aim to develop my network and interpersonal skills through interacting in a professional environment. I have worked toward these goals since I was admitted into the program and placed at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP's New York Office. I am interning for the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion department, which strives to enhance diversity and inclusion in the firm through working alongside firm leaders, hiring diverse employees, furthering inclusivity, and collaborating with partners to achieve their goals. The DEI section works across all of the firm's departments, which helps me connect with various colleagues and lawyers, engage in conversations regarding their specific occupations and responsibilities, and obtain an understanding of the profession. Most importantly, I have learned about the value of diversity and why it is so essential in the legal field. 

I witnessed firsthand the impact of diversity at a law firm through some of the DEI department's initiatives. In celebration of International Women's Day, a U.K. partner spoke on a panel to reflect on the progress of women and the obstacles that continue to affect women in the legal profession. In June, as part of the firm's celebration of Pride Month, the Out & Allied Firmwide Resource Group hosted a firmwide webinar, which focused on a wide variety of issues concerning the LGBTQ+ community and the legal challenges that they encounter. This webinar aimed to address these issues and provide viewers with guidance on how to be an ally. Both of these events addressed essential matters and opened them up for discussion, allowing people who identified with these groups to amplify the voices of their communities.


Diversity ultimately means having a group of individuals from different racial, ethnic, social, and cultural backgrounds, with different ideologies, upbringings, and interests, who can support and magnify the voices of their communities. The firm's diversity, equity, and inclusion department promotes a culture in which members of underrepresented groups may openly speak about their professional experiences and creates a space where they can be heard. It also encourages the interactions between these groups to foster an environment that promotes inclusivity and recognizes and appreciates the differences amongst all to develop mutual understanding and collaborative learning, which are vital concepts in all professions.

I appreciate this program for allowing me to work at Akin Gump and for their professional development series, which sought to provide participants like myself with beneficial resources, including professional learning opportunities and relevant networks. I hope to take the significant lessons I have learned during my internship and utilize them to engage in more opportunities. I aspire to use my acquired knowledge to succeed in future work environments, as well!

ODEIB thanks Locke Lord LLP, our first Gold Advocate for the 2022 Diversity & Inclusion Champion Award Gala! To join Locke Lord in becoming an advocate, contact Angie Avila at aavila@nycbar.org 

Clifford Chance 

NY M&A Insurance, Transactional Risk Insurance
NY Midlevel Capital Markets Attorney
NY Midlevel Executive Compensation Attorney
NY Midlevel Funds & Investment Management Attorney
NY Midlevel M&A Insruance Attorney
NY Mid-Senior Level Private Funds Attorney
US Junior Technology Attorney


Commercial Counsel 
Commercial Counsel, Embedded Products 
Fintech Product Counsel 
Head of Compliance 
Head of Financial Services Compliance 
Privacy & IP Program Management
General Positions Directory

NYC Department of City Planning (DCP)

Associate Counsel
Associate Counsel
Researcher & FOIL eDiscovery Specialist

NYS Unified Court System

Court Analyst

Building Belonging: Relfections on What Comes Next 

James A. Lewis, V, outgoing Executive Director of the City Bar Office for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging speaks with Tanya Martinez-Gallinucci, Incoming ODEIB Executive Director, Angie Avila, ODEIB Manager of Development and Communications, and Mary Ellen La Rosa, ODEIB Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator.

They discuss what Belonging means to them, the future of DEIB, the challenging work ahead, and weaving Belonging into our work every single day.

Keep an eye (and an ear) out for our next episode. Leah Goodridge joins us to talk professionalism and the deep inequities embedded in the legal profession. 

Listen on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotify, or Stitcher.

View Our Committee List
Special NYCBA Memebership Offer

Don’t forget to join us next Thursday, August 25 from 4:00-5:00PM for our next DEI Drop-In!

This is a drop-in style forum for diversity professionals, committee leaders, and any interested parties to come together to discuss their latest projects and updates. It’s also a great time to connect, hear about upcoming programming, and learn how we can support one another’s initiatives.

Bring a friend, invite a colleague, any interested parties are welcome!

Register here to stay in the loop 

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