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January 27, 2023 Feature Article

CREDP’S New Strategic Plan: Thinking Boldly!

Tamara Nash, Author | Michelle Behnke, Editor
Tamara Nash

Tamara Nash

ABA YLD Chair-Elect; Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession, Commissioner

During the 2021-2022 bar year, the Commission undertook the process of Strategic Planning. The Commission’s work extended into the 2022-2023 bar year with the Commission voting to adopt its new Strategic Plan in December 2022. At the outset of the process, the Commission set out to think boldly. We intended to develop a roadmap that details a long-term path for success and a document that embodies the work and values of the Commission.

The process began with members of the Commission identifying key stakeholders and conducting interviews to gather information. More than twenty interviews were conducted.  Interview information was later compiled and provided to the full Commission. The data was used to guide the Commission's discussion during a two day strategic planning retreat. During the retreat the Commission developed many of the Strategic Plan’s foundational concepts and strategic priorities. Subsequently, the discussion and stakeholder input  was memorialized into a draft strategic plan by facilitator Jennifer Lewin. 

The  initial draft of the Strategic Plan was  reviewed by a subcommittee who provided feedback and suggestions.  In December 2022, the full Commission considered the revised draft of the Strategic Plan and voted to adopt. The Strategic Plan memorializes how the Commission can best serve the Association and its partners and collectively work to elevate the work of the Association. It highlights a Mission rooted in collaboration, six organizational values and practices, and three priority areas for the Commission to focus its work.

Developing this Strategic Plan was a true labor of love. We are proud to share a few highlights with you. 

First, the Strategic Plan highlights a refined Mission that is rooted in who we are today, but who we aspire to be. The Mission states, “The ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession (CREDP) seeks to build a legal profession whose diversity is reflective of the broader diverse and vibrant communities we serve, and in which historically marginalized and underrepresented groups experience a sense of value and belonging. CREDP works to achieve this by serving as a trusted source of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) knowledge and strategies, convening and connecting influencers and decision makers, and empowering our internal and external partners to strengthen their own DEI and social justice efforts.”

Next, to uphold our Mission, we outline six co-equal organizational values that we seek to exemplify and deploy throughout our work and relationships. These values are:

  • Bold + Practical: CREDP is committed to making a significant impact on DEI in the legal profession and doing so in ways that are accessible, replicable, scalable and by prioritizing an environment of transparency and accountability.
  • Intersectionality-focused: CREDP seeks to heighten awareness of the nuanced challenges that historically marginalized and underrepresented groups experience within the legal profession.
  • Collaborative: To increase our collective impact, CREDP seeks to engage and empower partners inside and outside the ABA (especially within the Center for Diversity and Inclusion). We strive to be active listeners and trusted partners.
  • Solutions-focused: CREDP seeks to highlight efforts that are working, and to effectively share and scale those examples to the broader profession.
  • Multimodal: Recognizing that there is no single solution to diversity, equity and inclusion, CREDP strives to highlight a variety of targeted approaches.
  • Transparent: CREDP openly shares its research and knowledge to advance understanding of the current state of DEI and social justice in the profession, and to foster accountability.

Finally, informed by our Mission and values, the Commission commits itself to focus on the below three priority areas. Within each priority, the full plan details full strategies, success benchmarks, next steps, and those who carry the responsibility for enumerated tasks.

  1. Priority Area One: Raise the visibility and impact of CREDP’s work through focused communications and sustained collaboration.
  2. Priority Area Two: Increase recruitment, retention, and elevation to leadership of lawyers from traditionally marginalized and underrepresented groups by identifying and eliminating barriers that interfere with their equitable and active participation in the legal profession.
  3. Priority Area Three: Provide professional development, meaningful leadership opportunities and recognition to lawyers from traditionally marginalized and underrepresented groups, in collaboration with internal and external partners.

The Commission is proud of the Strategic Plan and the process which led to this product. With this new plan, we aim to step boldly into a new era. We hope that our work convening and connecting influencers and decision makers will have a profound impact on our legal profession, our Association, and the communities we serve. Further, the values contained within this plan empower our internal and external partners to strengthen their own efforts. We hope that together we can invoke a culture of DEI, transparency, value, belonging, and accountability. 

The Commission would like to thank Jennifer Lewin, Director of ABA Bar Services, for her help and guidance through the strategic planning process.  

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