Updated: Jan 8
Do you want to know what the CWBA Committees have been up to for the past two years? Read more to find out!
We like to call the CWBA membership committee the recruiting coordinator, welcome wagon, and social chair of the CWBA! Our goals are to make sure lawyers from across the state know about the CWBA, to help new members get engaged, and to provide fun networking opportunities.
The CWBA continues to be a growing and thriving organization at a time when professional associations are losing membership. The membership committee is dedicated to continuing the CWBA’s growth. A large membership makes us stronger and allows us to be a leader in the community. The more members we have, the more support we can give you through quality programming and formal and informal mentoring relationships. Our general feeling is the bigger the better!
That said, what makes the CWBA so special is the smaller, more intimate moments it facilitates. The longstanding friendship that grows out of working on a committee with someone. The conversation at an event that keeps you lingering. Getting the inside scoop on a job you’re applying for. Gaining confidence and leadership skills from helping plan a program or event. Size is important, yes, but we value quality over quantity.
The CWBA Membership Committee’s primary responsibility is engaging our membership and welcoming new members to our organization. We try to keep our pulse on the membership to make sure we are meeting our members needs and desires. It is our responsibility to make sure both new members are joining and lapsed members are renewing so that we hit our revenue goals. To meet these goals, we plan socials, roadshows, and attend fairs at CU, DU and the bar swearing-in ceremonies.
The Membership Committee had a great 2019-2020 year! Our event highlights included our Summer Social at Polsinelli, Fall Social at Bixby's Folly, Membership Roadshow at the Denver District Attorneys Office, and Winter Social at Chuy's in DTC.
We also attended Community Fairs at CU and DU, as well as the November 2019 Swearing-In Ceremony. We had a successful February 2020 phone bank campaign to reach lapsed members, which resulted in a total of 47 renewals. Our Ninja Subcommitee worked hard all year reaching out to new members. Our efforts have paid off and CWBA recently hit a major milestone: 1500 active members, the most the CWBA has ever had in our 43 year history!
The best way to maximize the value of your membership is to join one of our amazing committees. We encourage you to give one a shot and show up at a meeting. You can even shop around and try a few before deciding which one is best for you. The time-commitment can be as much or as little as you like.
The membership committee organizes four social events a year. If you ever feel hesitant about attending one of our gatherings, please know that we always have a “Friendly Faces” table. This provides an opportunity to meet a committee member and others who worry they will not know anyone there. We hope this will take away any pressure you might feel to “work the room.”
We also occasionally put on “Roadshow” events at individual law firms and organizations. We will come to you for an informal fireside chat about how the CWBA can best serve you and your female colleagues.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee
Co-Chairs Magistrate Melina Hernandez and Ruchi Kapoor report that in order to carry out CWBA’s core values of diversity and inclusion, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee was established in the Spring of 2019. The Committee works to foster a shared culture at the CWBA that promotes the goals of accepting, respecting and valuing differences that include attributes such as age, race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender expression, sexual identity, ability, language, family and economic circumstances, geography, and cultural background. Among other initiatives, the Committee works to ensure CWBA has cutting edge policies and procedures to help check blind spots and implicit biases, assists with recruiting and retention of diverse members, plans training for our Board and membership, and partners with other Committees and outside organizations to ensure we are inclusive in all aspects of our work.
The 2019-2020 term was the inaugural year for this committee, which started the year as the Ad Hoc Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and ended the year as the Bylaw-established Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. Our first task was to meet with Patti Jarzobski and Mario Trimble of the CBA Diversity and Inclusivity Steering Committee. They both impressed upon us two things: 1) it is crucial to be deliberate about whom we select to create a DEI Action Plan, and 2) it is crucial to accept how long it will take to do it right (and how important it is to do this correctly, because stakes are high; inarticulate execution can set both DEI organizations and historically underrepresented individuals back).
We met quarterly but intend to hold meetings more frequently in the 2020-2021 year. We released the “3 Questions, 5 Minutes” D & I Survey and results, which included the following questions:
What do you believe are the barriers to making the CWBA more diverse and inclusive?
What do you believe are the most obvious steps the CWBA could take to become a more diverse and inclusive organization?
What have you always wanted the CWBA to do or stop doing to become more diverse and inclusive?
We synthesized the answers to develop a four-pillar approach to increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the CWBA; 1) Visibility and Accessibility; 2) “Pipe Up”; 3) Cost; 4) Internal Policies and Procedures. After fine-tuning these goals and incorporating them into next year’s strategic plan, we have a lot to do and look forward to the future.
The CWBA Judicial Committee seeks to promote diversity on the bench all over the state of Colorado by conducting due diligence on finalists for every judicial opening in District Court, the Colorado Court of Appeals, and the Colorado Supreme Court. In 2018-2019, the Judicial Committee had a record year, completing approximately 22 rounds of due diligence. The passage of Senate Bill 19-043, which authorized 20 new district court judicial positions across the state, forecasted another busy year in 2019-2020. The 2019-2020 Co-chairs of the Judicial Committee—Alison Connaughty and Hetal Doshi— joined CWBA President Sarah Parady and the leaders of Colorado’s diversity bars in a meeting with the Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel, Jacki Cooper Melmed in the fall of 2019. The purpose of the meeting was to hold an open discussion on how the CWBA, the diversity bars, and the governor’s office can partner to help change the judiciary of Colorado so it better reflects Colorado’s population.
The CWBA Judicial Committee also oversees the Annual Judicial Reception, which honors all members of the Colorado judiciary, as well as a specific judicial officer for her or his meaningful work. The Judicial Committee honored Court of Appeals Judge Terry Fox at the 2019 Judicial Reception. Judge Fox was appointed to the bench in 2010 after working as an associate for Holland & Hart LLP, as an attorney with both the Public Officials Unit and the Litigation Section of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, and as an attorney at the United States Attorney’s Office. Judge Fox is a former Judicial Committee co-chair, a former member of the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association Board of Directors, and she is currently working in collaboration with the Center for Legal Inclusiveness to diversify the bench. The Judicial Committee chose Judge Emily Anderson, Chief Judge of Adams County District Court, as this year’s 2020 honoree. Her reception has been postponed due to coronavirus concerns, and she will be celebrated on a date yet to be determined.
Finally, CWBA President Sarah Parady oversaw an amendment to the CWBA Judicial Committee memo format, to make it more streamlined and tailored to its intended audience. Conducting due diligence on behalf of the CWBA continues to be an honor and a responsibility. Volunteers are assigned a finalist with every opening and charged with calling all the attorneys and judges listed on that finalist’s application. Volunteers question interviewees about a candidate’s legal ability, judicial temperament, reputation for fairness and integrity, and treatment of women and minorities. The feedback collected by volunteers is compiled in a confidential memorandum that is submitted to the governor’s office. The Judicial Committee is always looking for new volunteers to assist!
Professional Advancement Committee
The 2018-2019 Professional Advancement committee focused on creating more transparency into the nomination and vetting process for the CWBA’s Mary Lathrop Award. Procedures were implemented to ensure that all nominations are treated with equal care and weight and are considered against the same measurable attributes. In 2019-2020, the committee continued to create and implement procedures surrounding each and every nomination the committee submits for an award, including creating subcommittees for each award and establishing deadlines to allow for a workable timeline to consider each award nomination. Additionally, the Professional Advancement committee is issuing a call to action for all CWBA members (board members included) to nominate at least one other CWBA member for an award. The professional advancement of our members requires everyone’s assistance!
The incredible women who make up Colorado's legal community made the job of chairing CWBA's Professional Advancement Committee easy for 2019-2020 co-chairs Jessie Pellant and Hannah Seigel Proff. Our dedicated committee members nominated women for various awards on the national and local levels. A number of our nominees were chosen, including Shannon Stevenson of David Graham & Stubbs for the Ms. JD Honors Woman of Inspiration Award and Hetal Doshi for the Center for Legal Inclusiveness Young Professional Award.
Additionally, our committee had the pleasure of reviewing the nominations for the CWBA Mary Lathrop Award. We were taken aback by the volume of deserving candidates for the award, and we are thrilled that our committee chose to honor the venerable Velveta Golightly-Howell.
Our committee also created a new program, Cocktails for the C-Suite, a signature event designed to provide members of the CWBA an opportunity to network with some of the most successful women in Colorado's business community. The theme was to elevate, celebrate, and spark conversations between leaders in the legal and business community. The energy was palpable as we stood and watched the women in the room connecting. We hope these connections will result in career-long business relationships.
The most incredible part about being a CWBA board member is connecting with members of our committee. Once a month, our dedicated committee gathered for happy hour at a cozy wine bar downtown to brainstorm awards and plan events. The work our committee accomplished over the last year would not have been possible without their guidance, and hard work. As we move on to lead other committees, we are happy to know that the new Professional Advancement Co-Chairs will have the strength of our committee members moving forward!
The Mentorship Committee was a new committee for the CWBA in 2019 and manages CWBA LIFT!, which is a mentoring program developed in partnership with the Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program (CAMP). The committee also works with student liaisons at the University of Colorado and Denver University law schools to increase ties between women attorneys and law students, as well as help women transition from law school to practice. The Mentorship Committee supports a series of discussion gatherings on gender bias in the law; and engages in outreach to experienced attorneys, including legacy leaders and recently retired members, to encourage their continued participation in mentoring.
In January 2019, the LIFT! program kicked off with a "Rockstar Mentoring" event that allowed interested participants to engage with and learn from the following leaders in the community: Jessica Brown, Judge Alfred Harrell, Patricia Jarzobski, Faye Matsukage, Beth McCann, Judge Theresa Spahn, and Phil Weiser. The LIFT! Program had 24 mentor/mentee pairs for the 2019 class.
The 2019-2020 CWBA Ad Hoc Mentorship Committee oversaw two main areas in its first year: the second year of the LIFT! Mentorship Program and Law Student relationships. The LIFT! Mentorship Program was the primary focus and demanded the most effort throughout the year. Once the 2020 LIFT! Class was up and running in February and March 2020, the committee was able to tend to the relationships with law students to explore how best to nurture that new potential piece of membership, with more and more law students joining the CWBA.