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Bench & Bar of Minnesota is the official publication of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

New MSBA diversity panel launches

After a year of planning, the MSBA’s new Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council held its first meeting on July 8, 2015 at the MSBA offices. The D&I Leadership Council will replace the association’s Women in the Legal Profession and Diversity Committees.

The nine-member body, representing seven historically underrepresented populations in the legal community with two at large positions, was formed for various reasons. First, our stakeholders wanted to assure that, going forward, our diversity committee would include representation from each underrepresented population, as well as the majority population. By creating individual seats that represent African Americans, Women, LGBT, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Islanders and persons with disabilities, it met the second goal of encouraging communication between these communities.

To ensure that MSBA leadership is apprised of the committee’s work and has a voice in its continuing dialogues, two ex-officio seats on the Leadership Council were created for the MSBA’s president and its director of diversity and inclusion. Going forward, the D&I Leadership Council’s work will be a standing agenda item at meetings of the MSBA Assembly.

The panel’s inaugural members are:

  • Adebisi Wilson, Blackwell Burke, PA (African Americans);
  • Bryan Browning, Bassford Remele (Hispanic/Latinos);
  • Ivan Fong,  3M (At Large One);
  • Justin Page, Minnesota Disability Law Center (Persons with Disabilities);
  • Judge Nicole Starr, Second Judicial District (Asian Pacific Islanders);
  • Pamela Rochlin,  The Rochlin Law Firm (Women);
  • Peter Glass, Xcel Energy (Native Americans);
  • Phil Duran, Outfront Minnesota (LGBT);
  • Thomas Nelson, Stinson Leonard Street (At Large Two).

None of the underrepresented-community positions represent particular minority bar organizations. Rather, members are tasked with bringing their own experiences in diversity to the table, wherever they may have gained them.

The first order of business for the D&I Leadership Council is the creation of a strategic plan. To learn more about the new Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council, visit www.mnbar.org. Under the Members navigational menu, select Committees & Sections.

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