Diversity Committee to Hold Seminar, Awards Luncheon

By Ruth J. Addison

OBA Diversity Conference
Thursday, Oct. 16 • 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Registration opens at 8:30 a.m. Register online at www.okbar.org/members/cle
Jim Thorpe Event Center, 4040 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City
CLE + luncheon: $120; Luncheon only: $40. (Price goes up $25 beginning Oct. 10.)


The OBA Diversity Committee is set to host its third annual Diversity Awards Luncheon and CLE on Oct. 16 in Oklahoma City. The event will feature ABA President-Elect Paulette Brown, who is a labor and employment law partner and chief diversity officer with the Morristown, N.J., office of Edwards Wildman Palmer.

She has held many positions throughout her career, including as in-house counsel to a number of Fortune 500 companies and as a municipal court judge. In private practice, she has focused on all facets of labor and employment and commercial litigation.

Ms. Brown has been recognized by the New Jersey Law Journal as one of the prominent women and minority attorneys in the state of New Jersey and by the National Law Journal as one of “The 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America.” She has received the New Jersey Medal from the New Jersey State Bar Foundation and currently serves on its Board of Trustees.

Ms. Brown will be the keynote presenter at the CLE where she will discuss Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as well as the diverse legal workforce and what legal employers (i.e. firms, nonprofits, government agencies, etc.) can do to attract and retain diverse attorneys and the benefits for doing so. She will also provide practical suggestions both for diverse attorneys and for em-ployers on recruiting, retaining and treatment of diverse attorneys as well as the challenges diverse attorneys face at large firms and in the corporate sector.

Following her presentation, she will participate in a panel discussion focusing on the Oklahoma perspective on these topics. Also participating will be Judge Jerome Holmes of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals; Melvin Hall, shareholder with the Riggs Abney Law Firm, and Loretta Radford, first assistant for the U.S. Northern District Attorney’s Office.

The event, which is sponsored by OBA/CLE, will conclude with the Diversity Awards Luncheon beginning at noon. Six individuals and organizations will be honored with Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Diversity Awards in recognition of their efforts in promoting diversity in Oklahoma. The Diversity Committee, with the support of OBA President Renée DeMoss, will recognize the following individuals and organizations that promote diversity efforts and call attention to the need for tolerance and diversity awareness. Register online for the event at
www.okbar.org/members/cle. The conference is approved for 3.5 hours MCLE/0 ethics.

ADA LOIS SIPUEL FISHER DIVERSITY AWARD RECIPIENTS

Member of the Judiciary


Judge Jerry D. Bass

Judge Jerry D. Bass is a graduate of OSU and the OCU School of Law. He was admitted to the Oklahoma bar in 1991 and then admitted to the practice of law in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. He is also admitted to the practice of law in the United State Supreme Court. From 1991 to 1996, he served as an assistant public defender in Oklahoma County. In 1996, he was appointed special judge for the Oklahoma County District Court and in 1998 was elected to the position of district judge. He has been re-elected without opposition three times.

Judge Bass is also a champion for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) youth and adults. Judge Bass chose to submit his own letter for publication to respond to negative commentary. In February 2014, The Briefcase published his letter titled “As a Nation…” that focused on rectifying hypocrisy and pointing out that those who seek to de-grade and discriminate are often empowered by the words of politicians and judges who make public statements that degrade others. He is retiring from the bench Dec. 31, 2014.

Attorneys


Dean Stanley Evans, OU Law

Dean Stanley L. Evans joined the OU College of Law as the assistant dean in 2003 and retired in 2011. Dean Evans continues to serve the law school on a part-time basis in an advisory role. He entered law school at the age of 52 after almost 32 years of active U.S. Army service. He rose to the rank of colonel and previously held positions as dean of students and administration for the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; and as garrison commander of Fort Leavenworth.

Dean Evans has commanded at every level of the Army through brigade level, culminating with command of Fort Leavenworth where his command twice won the Malcolm Baldrige $75,000 cash award as the second best installation in the Army. As former dean of the Command and General Staff College, he was responsible for initiating a $126 million construction project for the new Lewis and Clark Education Center and for developing an automation system that will service the needs of the attending officers, staff and faculty well into the 21st century.
He is a Vietnam veteran, and has had several tours in the Washington, D.C., area. He returned to Oklahoma in 2000 with his wife Saundra, who is a retired elementary school teacher. He was appointed by the governor as chairman of the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission, and for six years he was on the University of Saint Mary (Kansas) Board of Trustees. He has made a personal commitment to the Oklahoma bar and the OU College of Law to recruit, train and mentor diverse law students.


Gay Hellman,
Former Catholic Charities Counsel, Immigration Assistance Division

Gay L. Hellman is a retired former staff attorney for the Immigration Assistance Program, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. She earned a B.A. at Wheaton College, Mass., an M.A. at the George Washington University and a J.D at OCU School of Law. She was admitted to the Oklahoma bar in 1980 and began her career at the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. In 1992 she volunteered at the Immigration Assistance Program before becoming a staff attorney later that year. In 2000 she received the Catholic Charities OKC Employee of the Year award. For almost 20 years, she represented Catholic Charities’ clients from all parts of the world, including India, Pakistan, Burma, Bangladesh, Uganda, Cameroon, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Ethiopia, Togo, Canada, Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Former Soviet states, Eastern European countries, Syria, Israel, Great Britain, France, Australia and Vietnam.

Her practice included family immigration law matters, citizenship applications, and refugee and asylum claims. Her greatest reward was helping her clients win asylum claims, often following lengthy hearings in front of immigration judges. She knew then they were finally safe from further persecution in their countries of origin. 

Businesses/Organizations


Christina Kirk,
Prep U

Christina Kirk is native of Nashville, Tenn. She was forced to drop out of high school due to illness and later attained a GED. She then earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and teacher education from historic Fisk University in 2001. She received her J.D. from the TU College of Law in December 2003 and was admitted to the Oklahoma bar in 2004. She started her own law firm, the Kirk Law Group. She later founded Prep “U”niversity, a program for young women in eighth – 12th grade that empowers them with the tools necessary to not only dream of success but to make such a future reality. She also serves as the dean of the program. Prep U provides mentoring, educational support and self-confidence workshops. It serves as a platform for middle and high school girls and is designed to provide them with a holistic approach to preparing for a life of good success.

Prep U young women participate in monthly lounge classes that enrich the academic, social, emotional and physical well-being of the girls. It also introduces them to technical career opportunities. Students are required to complete 10 hours of community service per year. Additionally, Ms. Kirk and her teenage daughter co-authored a self-esteem-building workbook for adolescents titled, “Developing DIVAs – Young Ladies Divinely Investigating their Vision in Advance.”


Tiffany Hill-Smith,
Young Women’s Empowerment Institute

The Central Area of The Links Inc. and Langston University collaborated to present the pilot for the Young Women’s Empowerment Institute (YWEI) program at Langston University. YWEI addresses the Central Area’s commitment to address retention and success of young African-American women at 16 historically black colleges and university (HBCU) campuses. The Central Area of The Links Inc. Young Women’s Empowerment Institute is a one-year program that provides young women aged 17-21 who are first time, full-time, entering freshmen at HBCUs with transformational opportunities that improve their self-esteem and equip them with a life plan.

The institute also includes follow up and progress monitoring of participants’ life plans continuing through graduation and two years post-graduation. The goal of the institute is to ensure these young women will be successful and productive in life. The YWEI Planning Committee has developed the Empowerment Institute Model with program components including mentoring, professional development, social development, life planning, health and wellness. The institute will engage participants through a series of meetings, social media platforms and workshops.

Oklahoma City University School of Law
Oklahoma City University School of Law (OCU Law), located in the heart of Oklahoma City, is a university centered on preparing its students to enter the legal practice through dedicated classes teaching students the art of litigation, pro bono participation and public interest law. It is mindful of the continued under-representation of all minorities in law schools and within the legal profession. Diversity in experience, heritage and viewpoint has proven to enhance the educational experience of all students; thus OCU Law is engaged in several initiatives designed to increase the number of minority law applicants, increase minority enrollment and engage the larger legal community in issues of diversity. OCU Law provides more than

15 scholarships for diverse candidates including scholarships for Asian-American, African-American, Latino-American, Native American and GLBT students. OCU Law emphasizes helping diverse students obtain summer associate positions as well as promotes participation in its legal clinics in areas like American Indian wills (provides wills and estate planning services to American Indians owning trust or restricted property in Oklahoma) and the Oklahoma Innocence Project in which students help identify and resolve wrongful convictions.

Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal - Oct. 4, 2014 - Vol. 85, No.26

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