A Barnes & Thornburg Diversity and Inclusion Publication
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Letter from Firm Diversity Partner
Answering the Cries
Showing our Colors
Rising to the Occasion - Racial Injustice
Rising to the Occasion - COVID-19
Zoom Inclusion Gender Norms
Summer 2020 Edition
Letter from Firm Diversity Partner
Answering the Cries
Showing our Colors
Rising to the Occasion - Racial Injustice
Rising to the Occasion - COVID-19
Zoom Inclusion Gender Norms
REturn to cover
REturn to cover
"Never let a good crisis go to waste"
I remember thinking that the loss of the great Kobe Bryant would define the worst of 2020. But then COVID-19 hit, changing life as we know it. And then on May 25th, we watched another unarmed black man, George Floyd, killed on national television, sparking the most sustained and profound outcry against racism and social injustice in modern history. The sadness – the grief – the weightiness of that moment, of all of it, has at times been overwhelming. I recently though had the privilege of sharing the stage with world-renowned speaker and inspirational powerhouse, Eric Thomas, at the BDC growth and strategy conference, SummerCamp®. During Eric’s remarks, he borrowed from famed leader Winston Churchill in challenging all of us to “never let a good crisis go to waste.” He reflected on all the “crises” of the day (as we all have been doing), and called upon everyone in the room to, in essence, rise to the occasion. I appreciated his words. Personally, they were activating. Further (and as we considered what the focus of this summer edition of our publication should be), they also seemed perfectly descriptive of us in this moment. Without question, Barnes & Thornburg has risen to the occasion in the midst of this year’s unprecedented challenges. Just by way of example, while many cut programs and people to stave off the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, we doubled-down – deliberately preserving our summer associate class and creating countless resources to educate and support our clients and teammates. There were no furloughs. Just swift action from the top down to care for our talent and those who count on our legal services. Likewise, beyond all of the anti-racism statements (inclusive of our own), we simply went to work determined to “do something” – to be a part of the solution. That work is ongoing. In the pages that follow, we’ve endeavored to highlight some of these efforts (and what we are continuing to do), to not “waste” this profound opportunity for better. The candid reflections of our teammates drive this edition. And the covers (both commissioned art pieces by Theoplis Smith of Phresh Laundry®), anchor it. Theo’s work is known around the world, especially in light of his piece entitled, “Love and Hate,” created in the wake of George Floyd’s killing [image right]. We felt it necessary to capture and honor the magnitude of the moment. Tapping Theo to help us in this regard seemed only fitting. Oh, and you will note that some of the pages (like the covers) are a bit unorthodox. Such is by design. 2020 thus far has been nothing if not atypical. We’ve chosen (even here) to continue to embrace it. I normally close with something akin to “hope you enjoy.” In light of all we are collectively navigating, such does not seem fitting. But despite it all, I’m hopeful – perhaps more so than ever before. Indeed at bottom, we tried in this edition to make the case for such “high-mindedness,” if you will. So I will simply say this – I hope that something in this edition (from the cover forward), makes you think, provides encouragement and affirms that we are better together!
Dawn R. Rosemond Firm Diversity Partner
Cover Designs by Theoplis Smith III
To position all of our talent to win - individually, collectively, and for our clients.
To align the business of diversity and inclusion so fully with the business of the firm that top talent from all backgrounds sees Barnes & Thornburg as both the preferred destination and national standard relative to excellence, inclusive engagement, and empowerment in action. We will only realize this vision with true commitment and deliberate action from all of us.
• We strive to reflect the clients we serve and the communities in which we have the privilege to practice law. • We define, promote, and embrace diversity broadly to foster authentic inclusion. • Our commitment to diversity and inclusion permeates every aspect of how we conduct business. • We are responsible stewards of our resources, taking care to use our influence, brand, purchasing power, and thought leadership to drive diversity and inclusion growth outside the walls of our firm. • We proactively seek out and pursue opportunities to better support, empower, and promote our talent. • We continuously look for innovative solutions to remain effective, relevant, and in tune with our clients’ values and business objectives.
Troy Zander, San Diego Partner-In-Charge
… trapped in my home by COVID-19, I watched, helplessly, with the rest of the world, as another black man was trapped by another pandemic – racism. Confused, angry, sad, I wondered where my part lay, in the problem and the solution. Rather than wallow in my ignorance, I reached out to those smarter than I, perhaps educated by the history of our nation, in ways I didn’t suffer. And a small positive outcome emerged: connection. I became connected, maybe even close, to people not previously of my circle; people of all races, creeds, colors, sexual orientations and religions. Connected to the world by technology – Skype [“1974 called …”], Zoom, Webex, Teams, BlueJeans – where we could see each other; really, actually, literally and figuratively see each other. It’s been a step forward, this connection. A beginning. I extended my hand, my voice, and my hand’s been held, my voice echoed. The tears are fewer, but not gone. The anger has subsided, not evaporated, replaced in some circles with laughter, as we begin, again, the slow march, connected, toward a better, brighter, freer, safer, more inclusive, more equitable, tomorrow. Maybe. I hope. I pray. Trapped. Staring at a screen. Your faces staring back at me. Sharing at me. Sharing with me. Connected.
Connie Lahn, Minneapolis Office Managing Partner
In the middle of dealing with COVID-19, one of our dear Minneapolis partners died unexpectedly. Then things got worse – within 24 hours, in a city I love, a man was murdered. On camera. By police. And the world turned its attention to Minneapolis. We are at the epicenter of hate and what happens when others are deemed to be “less than.” I wear a bracelet that says “Just Breathe.” I wear it every day to keep myself centered and remind myself to be calm. However, it now reminds me of my privilege. I will never have an officer put his knee on my neck. My privilege affords me the right to “Just Breathe.” With this privilege comes the responsibility to use it to help others. Privilege, racism, and implicit bias are now daily terms used in discussions in work, and discussions with family and friends. We cannot look the other way or act like this is an isolated event. We cannot pretend this will pass. We cannot make this the responsibility of others to fix. We must use our privilege to make this a world where everyone can “Just Breathe.”
Doubling Down on our Commitment to Tomorrow
Our Summer Class of 2020
Developing and cultivating a robust pipeline of women and minority talent is critical to any diversity and inclusion strategic plan. And certainly, if you declare (as we have) that the goal is to be the “preferred destination” for “top talent of all backgrounds” and the “national standard relative to excellence, inclusive engagement and empowerment in action,” mindfulness at the law school recruiting stage, at a minimum, is paramount. But the COVID-19 pandemic begged the question for all in the legal industry: Can you afford to proceed with summer associate and intern programming? For us, the answer was a resounding “Yes.” In fact, in the words of our director of law school programs, Sarah Evenson, we couldn’t afford not to do so! And man, aren’t we glad we did!
I have to admit, I was really anxious about this summer. I’d worked in offices before, and in my experience the way you get to know people and build trust is by dropping by their office or going out for a lunch. How do you build rapport via Zoom?! But the Barnes & Thornburg community truly surpassed my expectations. My fellow summers and I started a group chat where we could ask for help or share a funny story. Partners were generous with their time and would stay on the phone for an hour or more to answer all of my questions. The Chicago office even hired a magician to put on a magic show for us, and hosted an office-wide virtual trivia night. I was amazed at how early I started to feel at ease and at home at Barnes.
This summer meant so much to me because I was worried, as many of us were, that it just would not happen. When Barnes made sure it did, I was relieved, but still nervous. The nerves dissipated as I quickly realized that everyone at the firm cared about my fellow summers and I, and wanted us to learn and expand our skill sets and our knowledge. The attorneys and staff have made sure that even with everything going on, we do not get lost in the shuffle. I was welcomed into meetings and given constructive feedback I will take with me to school and beyond. I got to know my fellow summers even though some of us were hundreds of miles apart by playing trivia games and getting to know each other and what our lives are like. I am so very grateful for Barnes & Thornburg and everything I have learned here, and most of all, I am so thankful for the people who made this summer happen, even in the face of calamity.
I have loved both of my summers with Barnes & Thornburg. This firm is full of people who are willing and open to guide and pour into me as a summer associate. I was given substantive projects, constructive feedback, and had the privilege of observing meetings with government agencies, negotiations with opposing counsel, assisting with government compliance and monitoring, participating in contract drafting, and so much more. I have felt the firm’s genuineness in addressing diversity and inclusion by taking real action in setting up foundations and holding each office accountable for its efforts. Since we have gone virtual, I have worked with attorneys in almost every Barnes & Thornburg office, and I can say the firm culture is one of high standards and open doors. I have been challenged in a way that makes me excited to take on assignments and begin my legal career. While no place is perfect, the firm, in my opinion, has looked inward at where it has succeeded and where improvements can be made. I truly appreciate this firm for giving me the opportunity to learn with the attorneys and associates, and to also develop relationships with everyone from staff to partners. My experiences have shaped my legal career in numerous ways, and I hope to continue nurturing these lessons and relationships in the future. Thank you all!
While this summer turned out to be far from what I was expecting when I accepted my offer last fall, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Despite the physical isolation, everyone that I encountered at Barnes & Thornburg made me feel welcome. I enjoyed working on substantive assignments and learning about a variety of legal fields. There were also opportunities for me to work on pro bono matters and be exposed to how I can get involved in the Indianapolis community as a legal professional. Overall, I enjoyed my summer with Barnes & Thornburg!
Jennifer Borchelt, Benefits and Leave Specialist
Parenting is hard. Period. Over the last few months I have felt the need for a shift in how I can truly be a catalyst for change for those in my life, especially my children. I’ve always prided myself on not “seeing” color and that differences in race were never going to impact how I treated others. I work daily to show my children that we do not judge others by skin color and to be kind to everyone. That said, racism and inequality are still very real. I now see how overlooking one of the most obvious characteristics about a person (skin color) can be both dismissive and hurtful. Color blindness diminishes both the unique differences and experiences that racial groups face. Instead of avoiding racial differences as a topic of conversation, I want to point out how wonderful those differences are and proactively work with my children to build an understanding and desire for diversity and inclusion. These parts make us who we are and that is worth SEEING. We all see color, and I will be a part of the solution.
Eric Fisher, Partner
Many Georgians have worked for over two decades to ensure that perpetrators of hate crimes receive enhanced penalties. The effort was substantially advanced last year, but died before a vote in the Georgia Senate. When COVID-19 hit, we feared that the hate crimes bill would be a casualty of the pandemic and that the momentum gained in 2019 would be lost. The tragic and horrific murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man targeted and killed while out for a jog near his home in Southeastern Georgia, sparked a renewed interest in the push for a hate crimes bill. National outrage grew when a video of the Arbery murder went viral, and then the world learned of the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. In June 2020, just before the end of Georgia’s legislative session, members of the business community and other respected leaders in Georgia made it clear to their representatives that they would no longer tolerate the status quo. At an inflection point on racism and bigotry in America, Georgia’s historic Enhanced Penalties for Hate Crimes Act was passed with strong bipartisan support and then signed into law on June 26. Georgia became the 46th state with a state hate crimes statute, and its law offers protections to people of every race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, and disability. While this is just one step in the marathon that we are running to attempt to adequately address injustice and bias, it represents to me a silver lining to the tragedies of the first half of 2020.
A Black History Month Celebration
Back when we were allowed to gather (and when there was no mention of a pandemic), our Los Angeles office (spearheaded by teammates, office administrator Melanie Mawema, legal administrative assistant Tanisha Bishop, Canon site supervisor Nicco Barrios and associate Bunnie Poullard), decided to celebrate Black History Month 2020 by orchestrating a “pop-up” market for local black-owned businesses. The goal was simple: to use our platform to create space for these often unsung small businesses to sell their products and to gain exposure. The event was a great success with more than 10 businesses participating. Century City, where the pop-up market was held, has very little minority-owned business representation. Thus, not only did this initiative afford the participants an opportunity to introduce their goods and services to a whole new market, but it served to educate colleagues and other shoppers alike on black culture and excellence. Two of the participants reported selling out of everything! One of our core values declares, “We are responsible stewards of our resources, taking care to use our influence, brand, purchasing power, and thought leadership to drive diversity and inclusion growth outside the walls of our firm.” This year, we leveraged Black History Month to do just that. And now –because of COVID-19 – it is critical that we carry this mindfulness forward. Many of the businesses that set up shop in our pop-up market – and others like them – are in crisis. They need our support more than ever. If you’d like to learn more about the black-owned businesses who were part of our pop-up event, check them out here.
Check out Official Black Wall Street
for information about Black-owned, minority-owned or other diverse business enterprises in your own community.
If you are a minority-owned business, please visit our website and sign up to be a registered
with Barnes & Thornburg
A Necessary Call to Action
Click icons for more information on vendors.
Hot Thang Candles
Love and Snow
The Balm Shop & Co.
Runaway Boutique Los Angeles
Monica Payne, Director of Human Resources
COVID-19 has served as an enormous reminder that life is not something that can be controlled. You can make plans personally and professionally, and yet we are at the mercy of tomorrow. In March, COVID-19 was a tomorrow I did not anticipate. Yes, I began working with Barnes & Thornburg leaders on how to effectively shift our entire administrative staff to remote status, and I braced for how COVID-19 would impact the business, but nothing could prepare my heart and mind for the loss of loved ones, high school classmates, and fellow church members. While pushing through loss, it became even clearer how precious life is. As a result, I began to better prioritize my discretionary energy, making sure to give it to the people and things in my life that hold my heart. Tomorrow cannot be controlled, nor is it promised, but today is a divine gift and we are empowered to choose what we will do with this gift.
Ken Gorenberg, Partner
I am struck by the fact that racism and bigotry pervade even the discussion of these issues, including racism itself. Regarding the pandemic, blame has been placed on not just a single country and its leadership but on essentially all people of Asian descent, Jews, and other minorities. In the battle against racism, those who deny its continued existence portray its opponents as racist toward white people, while some people of color and their supposed allies refuse to engage with white people or use racism as an excuse for violence and theft.As worried as I am, I maintain hope that our communities, our nation, and the world can change for the better. Some painful but necessary conversations are happening. I’ve had thoughtful and respectful discussions with people whose views are far more to the right and to the left of my own. I have learned from those private conversations and from public statements and writings by a wide swath of commentators and individuals. I have witnessed Barnes & Thornburg, as both an institution and a collection of individuals, rise to the occasion. Ultimately, the fact that some people are trying to listen, learn, engage, and act means that progress can occur. It won’t be quick or easy, but it can happen and I believe it will.
Answering the Cries
In the wake of George Floyd’s death, the entire country (indeed the world) erupted with protests and outcries for the longed-for acknowledgment that Black Lives Matter. The sounds within the walls of our firm mirrored the cries in the streets. Accordingly, on July 14, our Talent Resource Group, BTBEmpowered (designed to support and provide community for our Black and African-American teammates), kicked off a town hall series on race with critically acclaimed actor, Carl Weathers, and Chicago partner, Lindsey Dates (who since May 25 has emerged as an even greater voice for change). Over 300 teammates attended this live Zoom event. The goal was to come together, to listen, to learn, and most importantly, to ask questions. Moderated by our Firm Diversity Partner, the conversation at times was intense and uncomfortable. And one hour was hardly sufficient to climb the mountain that is racism in this country. But we took a step forward. We moved beyond our comfort zones toward understanding, toward empathy, toward better. According to Carl, that’s why he said yes to leveraging his celebrity in this regard. In his words, “’What is one thing I can I do to help?’ is the question I ask myself. If my presence – if me just showing up affects someone in a positive way that matters … [because at bottom] we all come from the same place … we are all interdependent … so I must live up to the truth that I am my brother’s keeper.” What is one thing I can do to help? That is a great question. We should all endeavor to answer it.
“So grateful Carl was willing to speak with us about such an important topic. Although we white folks need to change ourselves and not put additional burden on Black people to point systemic racism and white privilege out to us, we need to listen when someone does.”
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the others we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – President Barack Obama
“Thank you for organizing this event, specifically, and for fostering an environment where diversity is acknowledged and promoted, generally. Please keep up this important work and continue to offer similar opportunities for us to continue to grow and advance as an organization.”
“Lindsey Dates is my hero. His ability to explain institutional racism so patiently and succinctly to a bunch of white people without sounding exhausted or preachy is truly a gift.”
“… Lindsay and Carl Weathers made some great points. Dawn and her group are to be commended for organizing this and all of their work to promote diversity and inclusion within Barnes & Thornburg as well as promote everyone associated withBarnes & Thornburg to live those principles in their lives outside of the firm.”
“It was a very sensitive subject, but it was handled with dignity and grace by all who participated.”
“Incredibly insightful and moving conversation.”
BTBEmpowered (now BTBlack) Hosts A Candid Town Hall About Race
Bill Nolan, Columbus Office Managing Partner
I tell people that what most distinguishes Barnes & Thornburg is energy. You can’t quantify it, it doesn’t really make a good website tagline, but the energy level is just different here. No doubt, we’ve put some good energy into improving diversity and inclusion. But 2020 has reminded us that some of us were sleeping on racism. We shouldn’t have needed a reminder, but we got it, and now we simply must take that energy and bring more to everything – supporting our communities, partnerships to fight racism and build inclusion, involvement in policy discussions around race, more diverse hiring at all levels of the organization, better mentoring and professional development, more diverse leaders. It’s not that we haven’t been, but we need to seize this moment and bring more intensity and focus and resources to all of that. More energy from everybody, now.
Genevieve Charlton, ASsociate Valerie Galassini, Associate Monica Stover, Staff Attorney
Through being apart, we’ve grown closer than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic and continued BLM movement have taught us that we can’t go through this alone. Listening and talking to others has proved to be the best way forward. We’ve opened our eyes to what our coworkers deal with on an everyday basis, purely because they are who they are. We’ve watched colleagues get through meetings with toddlers on their laps, which has been a refreshing reminder that we’re all in the legal industry, but we’re also part of something more. We’ve also felt the impact of the effect this crisis has had on our Black colleagues, and the painful reminder of how much further we still need to go. We’ve learned that change doesn’t happen overnight, no matter how much we want it to. It’s going to take time, dedication, and patience. But we’re lucky to work alongside leaders who have been committed to diversity and inclusion long before the global crisis. Those we can count on to guide us to change. It is difficult to achieve progress alone. So we are writing this together, just as we have been, and will continue to be. Together, unified, and stronger than when we started as one; and together, we will change the world.
“In most places, Pride celebrations are held on the third Sunday in June to commemorate the Stonewall riots. The Stonewall riots started in response to a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, an underground gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village on June 28, 1969. That night when police raided the bar, the gay and trans patrons of the Stonewall Inn decided to stand up and fight back. The ensuing riots are considered to be the beginning of the modern LGBTQ rights movement. Fifty-one years after the Stonewall riots, the idea of being arrested for being queer or a police raid on a gay bar is nearly unthinkable. In fact, when we think of Pride, we have the privilege to think of public events like parades and parties, often drawing support from businesses, community organizations and elected officials. That progress is amazing and we should celebrate that, but there is still much more to be done … Did you know that in 27 states someone can still be evicted for their sexual orientation? With many parades and large public events cancelled or postponed, it’s important to take time to celebrate how far we’ve come and to connect with friends and family, chosen or otherwise, in a safe way. Let’s also use this month to remember the queer folks who came before us and to reflect on what steps we need to take next to protect generations still to come.”
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Proudly Showing our colors
This year (like so many other things) Pride parades and other celebratory acknowledgments were cancelled due to COVID-19. BTPride (our Talent Resource Group designed to support and empower our LGBTQ teammates), decided that a global pandemic would not stop us from coming together and celebrating the contributions our LGBTQ teammates, family and friends have made (and continue to make), to move us all toward higher ground. So we took the celebration virtual. And we were inspired by the words of our own, marketing manager Nick Manty. Take a look, listen and smile. This is what rising to the occasion looks like.
KARA POPELAS, Communications Manager
The circumstances of these past few months are unfathomable and indescribable for me … and I work with words, writing is one of my things. Working fully remotely in the midst of a pandemic, trying to keep my young son learning and engaged, and staying socially distant from nearly everyone I love and hold dear continues to be so very challenging. It is intense and stressful. And then to have George Floyd’s death unfold only served to add deep heartache and pain. As a mother, my tears, sadness and anger are overwhelming. It is a hurt that we all should feel for our fellow black brothers and sisters ... because no one should be treated differently or judged by the color of their skin. I’ve known this since I was very little. When I was about 3 years old, my parents took me to visit some family friends. During that trip, we went to my first Renaissance Fair (she smiles remembering) and I came home with this beautiful bear that I have to this day from them. When photos were developed (yes, I’m dating myself), my parents showed my grandparents, and they said, “I didn’t know they were black.” … at which I grabbed the photo and expressed my utter surprise. Before that moment, I saw only two people kind, loving, wonderful people. That couple has always been a part of my life, even serving as surrogate parents to me when I was in law school, and my life has been richer because of them. Mr. Floyd’s death and the outcries in response only further rooted what my husband and I work to model for and teach in our son … it is imperative to really see people, regardless of their race, gender, religion or any other characteristic, and to speak up when something happens that just isn’t right. And moreso, we strive to ensure he understands that the skin we’re in - that he’s in - requires us to stand up for others and against injustice and inequality.
Melanie Mawema, LA/SD Office Administrator
In January, Kobe Bryant (and eight others) died in a plane crash. To LA it felt like a punch to the gut. It literally felt like the city was weeping as one. Things got worse very quickly. In February COVID struck and in May our country was plunged into civil unrest after we saw George Floyd being murdered on tape.Mr. Floyd’s murder followed on the heels of us seeing the videos of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder and the Amy Cooper Central Park incident. Three such videos in the matter of weeks. For many of us, racism is just a fact of life. Idistinctly remember years ago, when meeting a recruiter over lunch and being told that “white people would not hire me because of my natural hair.” The ironic part is the person telling me this was a black woman. Who I believe had my best intentions at heart, but chose not to see my HR degrees and work experience to focus on how I could (physically) fit what white America deemed “appropriate.” A few weeks ago, Carl Weathers and Lindsey Dates spoke to the firm about systemic racism. At our pre-interview meeting with Carl, Lindsey asked what made him so hopeful things could change. Carl responded that he grew up in a time when things were much worse. So, if we look at how far we’ve come, we know things will only get better.I choose to believe that.
According to www.dictionary.com, “small talk” is “polite conversation about unimportant or uncontroversial matters.”Diversity Matters”– Barnes & Thornburg’s newest podcast – features anything but. Fair to say, “Diversity Matters” was created to foster “big talk” about diversity, inclusion and equity. More formally, this latest resource we are deploying was designed to activate our commitment to bold change and is intended to “make room for those courageous conversations necessary to move us collectively toward better, both as a firm and legal industry.” While words are not enough, they matter. Indeed, “big talk” can be transformative. So, keep listening. There’s so much more to talk about!
Episode 1 features partners Alan Mills and Victor Vital, and was targeted to ensure that our diverse talent in particular didn’t fall through the cracks in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Diverse practitioners were disparately impacted by the 2008-2009 economic downturn. We were (and remain) determined that this will not be our story. Accordingly, Episode 1 was shaped to afford diverse leaders of tomorrow an opportunity to hear from long-standing and accomplished diverse partners – about everything from how to process the unique challenges the global pandemic brings to diverse practitioners to how to leverage using the moment to elevate their voices, to intentionally speak up within their own businesses about what works and even more so, about what doesn’t.
Episode 2, titled “No More Business As Usual,” launched our client series – which reflects our deliberate effort to invite our clients to join us in this important work – and features Toyota Motors North America vice president, chief legal and diversity officer, Sandra Phillips Rogers. Sandra sat down with our Firm Diversity Partner for a raw and powerful conversation about the current racial and social justice climate, its impact on the legal industry, and the importance of holding yourself and your business accountable for walking the talk.
Chuck La Bella, of cousel
I am dangerous. Let me explain. I graduated from high school in 1969. I had witnessed the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy before I graduated. Vietnam was raging as were the protests against the war. Bigotry and the political divide on the war were red hot. As we graduated (it was the summer of Woodstock) and went off to college, we were largely determined as a generation to make it better. And after Nixon resigned post-Watergate, it looked like something real might change. And as I aged through college, I wanted to believe things were getting better, changing for the better. Affirmative action, marches on Washington and The Jeffersons made it all seem as if race relations were changing, getting better. I started to believe that and became complacent….and that is when I became dangerous as a white male. I became a believer that as a society we were making progress and although not perfect there was a rhythm to the change. It was progressing. Turns out it wasn’t a rhythm of change at all but the drumbeat to keep everyone pacified…enough change to give the patina of progress but avoiding the fundamental changes needed. In a word, it was an illusion. Pablum to promote the status quo, keep dissent in check and resist any real fundamental change. I knew before COVID hit that this was all an illusion. I knew before George Floyd was murdered that it was an illusion. And yet I really didn’t loudly protest. I murmured in private which was of little moment. That changed for me before Mr. Floyd was murdered and before COVID hit. I had resolved that I could no longer just grumble in private, but had to participate in the conversation of real change. The catalyst for me was the incompetence and dysfunction of our federal government – all parties – to serve the American people … all of them, not just the ones they agree with. In a time when we needed patriots, we were left with bought and paid-for lobbyists and politicians who belong to either the red or blue team, but not to the red, white and blue team. I know political change is complicated, but equality is not complicated. We can disagree on abortion, fiscal responsibility, food stamps, and social programs, but there can be no disagreement on the value of a life. Life liberty and the pursuit of happiness is the promise of America. That promise was made and should be our reality.
Kelly Atkinson, Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator
Nearly three-quarters of the way through this crazy year, I am more hopeful than ever. When COVID-19 hit the U.S., we saw our country rise to a new level of humanity. We celebrated those often forgotten and showed more compassion toward others because we recognized the stress and pain disruption and sickness cause. We saw neighbors we’d never seen – still at a distance – and got our families outside more than ever before. Then we finally woke up to not only actually see racial injustice, but with a burning desire to do something about it. These interruptions show promise of a more innovative, equitable and understanding world of tomorrow. I’m not so naïve to not notice how divided we’ve become through this, how nearly everything becomes political, and how some individuals still struggle to see any amount of correctness in an opposing viewpoint. But we’ve all now seen how love can conquer all of that, and I have faith that it will again. Organizations are working to help minority talent, women and working parents to continue to succeed now more than ever. People have found new ways to connect using parking lot movie theaters, social-distanced church services, and countless virtual platforms. We will get through this, and I strongly believe we’ll be stronger, more thoughtful, and kinder than ever when we get to whatever “normal” looks like when we do.
Rising to the occasion
office (New York) and onboarded 12 new teammates
editions of our homegrown newsletter, BT Remote – Staying Connected When Working From Home, providing advice and best practices to our team, including how to foster inclusion
Issued more than
new employees – including 30 new attorneys and 75 business professionals – and furloughed NONE
teammates to remote staus
contacts, clients and prospects via 90 more than alerts, 50 blog posts, and 55 webinars
Created a dedicated COVID-19 Resources webpage consistently reaching nearly
Collectively donated $9,450 to the North Texas Food Bank
Raised $5,650 for Second Harvest Heartland
Partnered with Meals on Wheels
Ann Arbor, Detroit Metro and Grand Rapids
Sponsored the Euell A. Wilson Center for GFW, Inc.’s Feed the Meter campaign
Provided pro bono services to Timmy Global Health and offered support to the Whitewater Valley Pro Bono Commission
Indianapolis and Richmond
Ran a Care Package Drive, donated funds to provide 258 food care packages to local people in need and supported Heroes Camp
South Bend and Elkhart
Led Legal Food Frenzy campaign for the Atlanta Community Food Bank, raised $7,729 and provided increased support to the Giving Kitchen
Raised more than $21,000 for the Greater Chicago Food Depository and invested time and resources in the Justice Campaign
Participated in Operation Feed campaign to benefit the Mid-Ohio food bank’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief fund, raising $6,300
Raised more than $12,000 for the local Feeding America food banks and provided pro bono services to Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families and Hathaway-Sycamores Child & Family Services
Los Angeles and San Diego
Delivered gifts to employees to support them during remote work - Bill Nolan (Columbus) and Savannah Robinson (Fort Wayne)
Participated in a worldwide virtual choir to promote unity - Luanne Redmond (Chicago)
Donated meals to the front-line, overnight ICU healthcare workers at the Jacobs Medical Center at UC San Diego (Partners Troy Zander, Anthony Arnold, Eric Beste, Janet Gertz and Ali Mojdehi)
Issued statements (internal and external) from our Firm Diversity Partner, Management Committee and various Office Managing Partners, denouncing racism and doubling down on commitment to change
Conducted ongoing virtual check-ins with our Black and African-American teammates, including our summer associates, to provide comfort and support
Facilitated broadening and diversifying mental health and coaching options to support Black and African-American talent
Created forums to allow our teammates to share their perspectives and reflections regarding racial discrimination, the impact of George Floyd’s murder, and the protests (Washington, D.C.)
Teammates across our platform participated in peaceful protests and other demonstrations throughout the country
Sponsored artist transformation of two panels (boards) on the outside of the office building into statements on social justice and hosted a 21-day racial equity and social justice challenge (Columbus)
Created two Racial Justice committees (internal and external) focused on undoing racism and biases in our systems and communities we serve
Continue to host weekly firmwide Together We Can Breathe conversations led by partner-in-charge, Troy Zander, to ensure the racial injustices that persist stay top of mind (San Diego)
Joined the national Law Firm Antiracism Alliance
Leveraged The Download (our monthly internal diversity and inclusion newsletter) to provide more than 200 resources to all Barnes & Thornburg teammates driving education and mindfulness
Started a virtual book club reading White Fragility (Grand Rapids)
Hosted office town hall meeting to discuss the black experience in this country, in our firm and where we go next (Chicago)
Designated nine minutes of silence to reflect on the killing of George Floyd (Minneapolis, Los Angeles and San Diego)
Hosted weekly sessions to talk about race as well as hosted a firmwide Twin Cities Diversity In Practice webinar entitled Activating Allyship to Combat Anti-Black Racism (Minneapolis)
Working with more than a dozen of our clients to help them develop their own organizational responses to racial injustice and toward improving their diversity efforts
Volunteered to provide legal support to protesters
Created the Barnes & Thornburg Racial and Social Justice Foundation - initially funded by the Management Committee, with 100% participation, with $75,000
Raised more than $12,000 for the local Feeding America food banks
Led Legal Food Frenzy campaign for the Atlanta Community Food Bank, raised $7,729
Raised more than $21,000 for the Greater Chicago Food Depository
Ran a Care Package Drive, donated funds to provide 258 food care packages to local people in need
BTWomen Orchestrates Firmwide Discussion on Gender Norms and Equity
BTWomen (our Talent Resource Group for our female teammates and allies), led by partner Denise Lazar planned a firmwide event to talk about the female journey months before the pandemic hit. When we were all deployed to our homes, the question on the table became: Do we cancel? Denise answered with a resounding “no,” determining that connecting and continuing to push toward equity during this time was, perhaps, more critical than ever. So we did it. On May 28, BTWomen hosted its first-ever firmwide virtual gender norms discussion. Led by Denise and Columbus office managing partner Bill Nolan (who routinely hosts gender norms discussion events in Columbus), the interactive session welcomed participants from all across our firm. It was so well-received, BTWomen did it again on July 29, and to deliberately include our 2020 summer class. Fostering inclusion and equity is paramount in and out of crisis. Without question, we’ll keep doing this!
"Good to meet new people and have vulnerable conversation." – Brian Jarman, Partner
“I want to continue to listen. I am finding that others have experienced life in ways that I have not nor have I even contemplated . . . I enjoyed hearing about the experiences of other people and using these new perspectives to help identify areas of improvement in my own life.” – John Routon, Associate
“ … I will try to make fewer assumptions and instead start conversations to learn what people are thinking.” – Amy Fix, Partner
CO-CHAIRS Robert T. Grand Dawn R. Rosemond
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION COORDINATOR Kelly Atkinson
TALENT RESOURCE GROUP LEADS BTAPA Mark Kittaka David Wong BTParents Jennifer Borchelt Sean Phipps BTBlack Michael Battle Melanie Mawema A. Elizabeth Underwood BTLatinx Ladene Mendoza Katrina Thompson BTPride Amber Bollman Brian Jarman BTWomen Denise Lazar
STANDING/EX OFFICIO POSITIONS Firm Managing Partner (Robert T. Grand) General Counsel (Karoline Jackson) Chief Operating Officer (Steven Merkel) Director of Human Resources (Monica Payne) Law School Programs Director (Sarah Evenson) Law Student Recruiting Director (William Padgett) Legal Personnel Director (Savannah Robinson) Legal Recruiting Director (Jesse Reeves)
VOLUNTEER OFFICE REPRESENTATIVES Matthew Agnew (Dallas) Laing Akers (Columbus) Christina Baugh (Atlanta) Lauren Box (Indianapolis) Mike Carrillo (Chicago) Michael Durham (South Bend/Elkhart) Dominique Gallacher (New York) Autumn Gear (Minnesota) Thomas Hanson (Delaware) Salvador LaViña (Los Angeles/San Diego) Michelle Mikol (Washington, D.C.) Tejas Shah (Chicago) Erika Weiss (Grand Rapids)
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