President Sarah Parady's Thoughts on 2019-2020
It turns out you all are not so much a group that one leads, as a group that one valiantly dashes
after from a few steps behind.
From May of 2019 to today, here are just a selection of the things the CWBA Board, staff, committees and affiliates got up to:
We hit a membership milestone with over 1,500 active members – making us one of the largest women’s bar groups in the country and giving us an ever-expanding voice among the bench, bar, and legislature.
Alongside our perennial yearly events, we put on new ones focused on helping our members build their communities, including a Pro Bono Fair to connect with organizations needing attorney volunteers and “Cocktails with the C-Suite” to connect with powerful women in business.
We supported CU Law’s Rothgerber Conference marking the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment; put on a workshop on salary negotiations which we replicated for our student members; and started a project to develop a “best practices” guide for courts to meet the lactation needs of courthouse users.
We conducted a record thirty rounds of due diligence for judicial vacancies, ultimately endorsing 27 candidates, of whom 12 were appointed to the bench.
We surveyed our members on internal barriers to diversity and inclusion; on your experiences breastfeeding or pumping in courthouses; on your experiences of sexual harassment in the profession; and on how you’d like the CWBA to respond to the broad social, economic, workplace, and home-front fallout of COVID-19.
We hired our first Membership and Events Manager, Carolyn Gravit, and a new Administrative and Membership Assistant, Danielle Smith.
We selected Velveta Golightly Howell as our Mary Lathrop honoree and Judge Emily Anderson as the recipient of our Judicial Excellence Award (please watch this space for the news of when we will be able to honor them in person!). We mourned the loss of two former Mary Lathrop award winners, State Senator Dottie Wham and IAALS Senior Director Alli Gerkman.
We developed “Four Pillars” for building our diversity, equity and inclusiveness as an organization under the leadership of an organized and active DEI Committee.
We championed the policy work of our members on fertility access; provided deep and rapid analysis of several iterations of a bill to create a state program for paid family and medical leave; and testified shoulder to shoulder with our sister diversity bars on bills to ban ICE civil arrests in courthouses and to prohibit discriminatory treatment of employees based on hairstyle (an all-too-common experience for Black women).
We selected a new Convention venue for the first time in many years (see you next year at the Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek!), then selected yet another venue (Zoom…..) when COVID-19 kept us from gathering as we had for 42 years, and presented a dynamic and well-attended virtual Convention. Actually, it’s still going on! Join us this week for “Sky’s the (Virtual) Limit” or watch the recorded sessions at your leisure for up to 9 general and ethics CLE credits!
Speaking of Zoom, our ED Kim Sporrer has become a leader among bar executives, frequently leaned on for her wise instincts and communications expertise, and was asked to present at an upcoming conference on member engagement in the COVID era.
We created a new Amicus Committee (actually a subcommittee, but who can keep track), staffed it with brilliant appellate minds, and developed a policy for handling amicus brief requests and authoring or signing briefs.
We added all members of our two law school campus affiliates, the DU Women’s Legal Coalition and the CU Women’s Law Caucus, as CWBA members with $0 dues, increasing our ranks at the schools manyfold, and saw incredible participation from student members throughout the year at events and committee meetings. And our chapters continued to hold gatherings and events across the state, as well as participating remotely in our annual Legislative Breakfast.
We began a second cohort of our signature “CWBA Lift!” Mentorship program, with an even bigger group of mentor-mentee pairs than the pilot cohort last year, and successfully matched every prospective mentee with a mentor.
We published a breathtaking 70 pieces on this blog. (Poignantly, our most-viewed post of all time, by Publications Committee Co-Chair Giugi Carminati, was “The Hidden Costs of Building a Career While Having Children,” published in December 2019---before COVID-19 closed schools and daycares across the state.)
And I know that our members of all people will appreciate that we began a project to revise our bylaws, engaged in strategic planning, and adopted an employee handbook! Swoon!
Hundreds of you participated in committees and events, wrote blog pieces, weighed in on surveys, and supported each other in person and online. Don’t forget to draw on that wellspring of mutual support as our uncertain new era wears on and we miss leaning close and laughing together in crowded event venues. (Remember places?)
As I catch my breath from a year of “leading” the CWBA, my wish for all of you is that you have people in your personal and professional life who make you feel a little breathless with their boldness and energy. If you don’t, I think I know where you can find them. Thank you all.
Past President Cat Shea Reflects on 2018-2019 Special Achievements
The CWBA killed it in 2018-2019! Perhaps our most special achievement of the year was the passage of the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, a comprehensive state law aimed at closing the pay gap experienced by all Colorado women, particularly women of color. Our members not only drafted this historic piece of legislation and testified before the General Assembly, but also spent countless hours educating elected officials and others about the impacts of the bill and raising funds to support the CWBA’s efforts to get it passed. Be on the lookout for educational programming designed to help employers subject to the EPEWA (including law firms) prepare to be in compliance when the Act goes into effect in January 2021.
After first exploring the concept in FY2018, the Publications Committee launched the CWBA’s blog, “The 1891” (https://www.the1891-cwba.org/), which hosts an incredible trove of pieces authored by our members on a variety of topics, including reflections on the meaning of being a woman in the legal profession today. Be sure to subscribe to “The 1891” to be notified when new content is added, and consider joining our book club! Our Professional Advancement Committee also relaunched the CWBA’s mentoring program, LIFT!, which pairs mentors and mentees within our membership and supports the growth of a true mentoring relationship. The revamped LIFT!’s first cohort of 23 mentoring pairs benefited from thoughtful guidance provided by Committee members. I encourage you to sign up as a mentor or mentee—or both!
One of the accomplishments of which I am most proud is the creation of our first History Committee, led by intrepid Historian (and now President-Elect!) Miranda Hawkins. In the months leading up to our 40th Anniversary on June 1, 2019, dedicated Committee members dug through thousands of articles, photos and other items in our archive to create a timeline of our history that we will display on our website. If you joined us on Saturday night at the Convention, you saw our new video featuring the incredible Mary Hoagland telling the story of her entry into the legal profession and decades-long involvement in the CWBA. We hope Mary’s video will be the first of many to preserve the stories and wisdom of our founding mothers. And a lengthy article about the CWBA’s founding and history was featured along with others in a new publication of the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations called, “Raising the Bar: America Celebrates 150 Years of Women Lawyers.”
Speaking of the NCWBA, the CWBA also received the organization’s Outstanding Program Award for our “Storming Leadership” series, which aims at helping women better position themselves for roles in which we are severely underrepresented, including the bench, in boardrooms, and on the ballot. The Programs Committee held our first ever “Storming the Board” program this year, with invaluable assistance from the Women’s Leadership Foundation, which added yet another empowering resource to our repertoire.
I don’t know about you, but after reading all of this, I am exhausted! I cannot thank our dedicated Board and Committee members enough. All of these amazing accomplishments are thanks to them, and to YOU, our members. Thank you for showing people how much we can accomplish when we’re “In This Together!”