February 05, 2020

Diversity Caucus

About the Division

The Forum’s Governing Committee approved the formation of the Diversity Caucus in October of 2010.  The Diversity Caucus will assist the Forum and the American Bar Association meet their respective goals and objectives regarding diversity.  We encourage diverse members to reach out to the leaders of the Diversity Caucus and the Forum to discuss opportunities for involvement and make suggestions for initiatives for the Caucus. 

Our mission is to develop and implement initiatives to support the Forum’s diversity goals of (1) increasing the number of diverse members in the Forum; (2) growing the representation of diverse members in the Forum’s divisions and committees; (3) continuing to develop a strong base of diverse writers and speakers for the Forum; and (4) creating a growing pool of diverse members ready to assume leadership positions in the Forum.  The Diversity Caucus also strives to raise awareness of the value of diversity in the profession. 

Read the ABA Diversity Plan
Read the Forum’s Diversity Plan

News, Events & Announcements

2018 Annual Meeting

Join the Diversity Caucus and speakers Sherin Sakr, Clay Tillack and Liza Favaro to discuss the challenges of recognizing and working to eliminate bias in law firms at the annual Diversity Caucus Lunch on Friday, October 12, 2018. How does law firm bias manifest itself? How can law firms create a workplace that encourages success for all? What do clients expect from law firms? How can clients and law firms together create a bias-free work environment?  This promises to be another lively and productive discussion. Ethics and Elimination of Bias credit available.

Please let us know if there is a particular topic you want explored at future events. This Diversity Caucus is here to serve the needs of our diverse Forum members, and we can best achieve it with your feedback.

In conjunction with the Women’s Caucus and Corporate Counsel Division, the Diversity Caucus has arranged two community service events: Room in the Inn and the Nashville Rescue Mission. Room in the Inn begins at 10:00AM and will end at about 12:45PM. The Nashville Rescue Mission begins at 10:30AM and will end at about 1:00PM. Both community service events will be assisting soup kitchens. The Diversity Caucus encourages all Forum members to sign up for one of these two events to give back to the community that is hosting our Annual Meeting this year.

2016 and 2017 Diversity Award Recipients

Congratulations to both Phyllis Alden Truby and Kendal Tyre as the recipients, respectively, of the 2016 and 2017 Diversity Award from the Forum on Franchising! The Diversity Caucus proudly recognizes both as ground breakers and instrumental to the foundation and growth of this caucus and diversity in the Forum.

Calling All Diverse Forum Members

Since our inception in October 2010, the Diversity Caucus has operated with informal membership roll. Forum members were invited to join us for the Annual Diversity Luncheon and participate in co-sponsored events such as the community service projects. With this new year, we strive to become a more recognized caucus in the Forum and urge all diverse Forum members to sign up as a Diversity Caucus member as well. Please help us continue our goal of increasing the number of diverse members in the Forum and growing a diverse base of representation in the Forum’s divisions and committees, writers and speakers, and leadership.  Sign up as a Diversity Caucus member at the Annual Diversity Luncheon.

2017 Annual Diversity Luncheon

Please join us for a conversation with Amber Lee Williams and Trace Northcross from Wal-Mart Inc.’s legal department about the recognition and elimination of bias in the legal profession at the Forum’s sixth Annual Diversity Caucus Lunch! This lunch will be on Friday Oct. 20, 2017 at 12:00PM to 1:15PM. Event is free to Forum attendees but registration is requested for food preparation. Ethics credit for elimination of bias has been applied for in the applicable states. We look forward to seeing you there!


Winter 2017 Franchise Law Journal

From Minh N. Vu and Julia N. Sarnoff comes an article discussing Title III of the American with Disabilities Act and its potential impact on the technological advancements in franchising. Websites, Kiosks, and Other Self-Service Equipment in Franchising: Legal Pitfalls Posted by Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act is available in the Winter 2017 edition of the Franchise Law Journal.


2016 Annual Diversity Luncheon and Community Service Event

At the 2016 Forum Annual Meeting in Miami, the Diversity Caucus was proud to host a luncheon with speaker Carlos Rodriquez-Vidal, Esq., the chair of the ABA’s Center for Racial and Ethnic Diversity. Mr. Rodriquez-Vidal discussed the ABA’s embrace of diversity in the legal profession at our fifth annual lunch. The Diversity Caucus also participated in the annual service event for 2016. At the Camilus House & Health, we along with the Women’s Caucus and Corporate Counsel Steering Committee organized three volunteer activities in the garden, kitchen and mailroom for Annual Meeting attendees. To learn more about the Camillus House & Health, please visit Camillus.org.


2015 Community Service Event

A group of 30 participants volunteered at the Second Harvest Food Bank packing food boxes or sorting and categorizing donated food products in the food bank’s cooler based on the organization's needs.


2014 Community Service Event

Thank you to everyone who made our 2014 Community Service Event in Seattle a success!

On October 18, 2014, more than thirty volunteers planted hundreds of trees in Lake Sammamish State Park at the Forum’s Annual Community Service Event hosted by the Women’s Caucus, the Corporate Counsel Division, and the Diversity Caucus. Participants braved the Seattle drizzle and mud to work with the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust to plant trees where invasive species had previously stifled the park’s habitat. Through this rewarding event, the Forum once again demonstrated its commitment to giving back.

New Technical Brief

The Disability Rights Commission recently released a Technical Brief entitled
"7 Things Juvenile Courts Should Know About Learning Disabilities". The Technical Brief was written by Christopher Mallett. It's a good summary of laws designed to protect learning-disabled juveniles, including IEPs.

Article on Lawyering with Disability Challenges

The Professional Lawyer, a publication for the ABA’s Center for Professional Responsibility, published an article by Stuart Pixley, a Senior Attorney with Microsoft, titled “Lawyering with Challenges: Disability and Empowerment” about the challenges he faces and overcomes daily in his chosen career: the practice of law.

Diversity Plan

In February 2013, the Forum’s Governing Committee approved the Diversity Plan suggested by the Steering Committee for the Diversity Caucus. Read the Forum’s Diversity Plan.

In the Fall of 2012, the Center for Professional Development awarded the Forum on Franchising the Diversity Award to highlight the Forum’s achievements.


Mailing List

The Diversity Caucus wants to keep everyone with an interest in diversity in the Forum up-to-date on relevant issues and events. Please send your contact information to Maral Kilejian at maral.kilejian@mrkpc.com if you would like to be included on the mailing list for the Diversity Caucus.


Diversity Officer

Gerald Wells
Rita’s Franchise Company

Steering Committee:

Maisa Jean Frank
Gray Plant Mooty
(202) 295-2209

Faye Lucas
Sotos LLP
(416) 572-7318

Nia D. Newton
Nixon Peabody LLP
(202) 585-8700

Sherin Sakr
(973) 4007-5055

Joseph J Santaniello
(704) 945-2141


Members of the Diversity Caucus leadership maintain liaison relationships with other ABA entities working to achieve the ABA’s diversity goals.  We encourage you to visit the web pages maintained by these entities and learn more about their respective missions.  Be sure to visit the following:

ABA Diversity and Inclusion

Women in the Profession

Center for Racial and Ethnic Diversity

Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

ABA Diversity Speakers Bureau

ABA Women Rainmakers

Center for Women in Law

Coalition of Women's Initiatives in Law Firms

Corporate Counsel Women of Color


Implicit Bias Task Force (ABA Section of Litigation)

Minority Corporate Counsel Association

Ms. JD

Ms. JD Library (Reports and Publications)

National Association for Law Placement

National Association of Women Judges

National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL)

National Conference of Women's Bar Associations

National Judicial Education Program

National Organization for Women

National Partnership for Women & Families

New Directions Program: Practical Skills for Returning to Law Practice (Pace University School of Law)

The New Girls' Network

Practicing Attorneys for Law Students Program, Inc. (PALS)


United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women

U.S. Census

Women's Competition Network

Zealous Women