MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR

Vol. 16 No. 1

By

Forum Chair

As an organization, we have undertaken various worthy initiatives over the years. However, there has arguably been no more important initiative undertaken by the Forum than to increase the number of diverse members in the Forum and to encourage their participation in the various Forum activities. This initiative began in approximately 2004, spurred in part by the ABA’s Goal IX Report on racial and ethnic diversity, and in part by Phyllis Alden Truby, the then Governing Committee Liaison to the Women’s Caucus. It was at this time that Forum leadership tasked Phyllis with the job of reaching out to diverse members of the Forum to identify these individuals and encourage their involvement in the Forum. With the support of the Forum’s Governing Committee, Phyllis went about planting the seeds that would lead to the current Diversity Caucus. To that end, Phyllis spearheaded a diversity outreach effort at the 2005 Forum to identify individuals interested in serving on a diversity committee. At that time, the Forum Governing Committee also began an initiative to assist diverse members with identifying leadership opportunities in the Forum. These efforts continued during the 2006 Forum where a program was held on fostering diversity in franchise systems, and further outreach was conducted to those Forum members who self-identified as diverse.

In 2007, recognizing that enhanced diversity would require more of a full-time effort, Forum leadership tasked one of its members in leadership with the full-time job of spearheading Forum diversity efforts. Over the years, this individual has become known as the Forum’s Diversity Officer. At that same time, a committee was formally borne in an effort to assist the Diversity Officer in implementing activities to promote and encourage diversity in the Forum. The Forum has been lucky to have had dedicated individuals fill the position of Diversity Officer, including Kathy Kotel and the current Diversity Officer, Leslie Curran. Under Kathy’s leadership, the ever-popular diversity lunch was created. Under Leslie’s leadership, in October 2010, the Forum’s Governing Committee approved the formation of the Diversity Caucus—institutionalizing the diversity committee by recognizing it as a formal caucus. This Caucus currently includes a steering committee of six diverse individuals who assist the Diversity Officer. The Diversity Caucus now also co-hosts the community service event held each year at the Forum.

It is my honor to report that the Forum’s commitment to diversity has resulted in the Forum’s receipt of the 2012 Diversity Award by the ABA’s Center for Professional Development. The Diversity Award is given to the ABA entity with the highest percentage of diverse faculty members presenting in programs facilitated by the Center. As measured against the other ABA entities, the Forum won the 2012 Diversity Award with a 78% rating, which exceeds last year’s high of 61.54%. This honor was presented to the Forum in early November at a reception held at the ABA’s headquarters in Chicago. I would like to extend a special thank you to Kerry Bundy who, as the Forum’s Program Officer, has worked to ensure that our teleseminar and local programming panels reflect a diverse mix of presenters.

This recent award would not have been possible without the work of many over the last number of years, both in and outside of Forum leadership. Thank you for all of your efforts to date. Although much has been accomplished, there remains much to be done on this front. We must continue to ensure that diversity in leadership, as well as participation, remains one of our top priorities.

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