What an absolute honor, pleasure and joy to bring you greetings as the 37th President of the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys (GABWA). My journey to this destination began more than 20 years ago in the parking lot of Atlanta Municipal Court. I wanted to get plugged into the legal community and an Atlanta stalwart suggested that I join GABWA. Her specific direction was to not only join GABWA, but get involved with one of her many programs; that was the best way, she said, to get to know GABWA’s true strength. I did just that by volunteering with GABWA’s Sister to Sister program and continued on a path that led me to this moment.
Our mission statement is concise but impactful-“To nurture, support and galvanize the power of black women attorneys, advocate for women and children and empower our communities.” The 2018 theme of “Dynamic Disruption, Boldly Advocating Change” is an evolution of the same. We as black women, in particular dynamic black women attorneys, are called to disrupt the status quo daily. We have never been shy around the notion of advocating for change because we have not been afforded that luxury. The elevation of our profession and our respective communities requires that we each answer the call to challenge current legal, political and socio-economic narratives. When we embrace that call and walk in our predestined purpose , our collective progress is unstoppable.
As we dynamically push forward in 2018, I would like to highlight this year’s areas of strategic focus:
- At our annual legislative breakfast co-hosted with GAWL on February 27, 2018, we meet with legislators to push forth and vote on bills that effect our communities most, such as the Tenant Victim Protection Act and the new Hate Crime legislation.
- This year will address the disruption of our political norms as we individually and via our PAC Committee, participate in the election process as we endorse and support qualified candidates in line with GABWA’s mission in the governor’s race and Georgia’s 2018 midterm elections.
- We will focus on member wellness in conjunction with the State Bar of Georgia, particularly focused on physical and mental health.
- We will fine tune our programs to ensure we are directly in-line with GABWA’s mission. As an example, a retooled “Legally Speaking” will concentrate on lawyer education, using updated media functionality to reach an expanded target audience (Think access to the show via apps and steaming media).
- We will address the use of social media, branding and business development and the intersection of the three.
- We will launch our new website this year. With this launch, GABWA will be able to offer increased member services and reach a wider audience of lawyers statewide.
- We will educate our members on GABWA’s newly amended and adopted Constitution and board structure, with the new board structure going into effect in 2019. This initiative is the direct result of our strategic plan, authored in 2015 under Past President Adwoa Seymour.
- In April of this year, we will celebrate the 10th Anniversary of our Professional Development Academy, the brain child of past president Joy Lampley Fortson and Sam Woodhouse and currently under the able leadership of Dean Terrica Ganzy. This academy has provided timely lessons ranging from courtroom etiquette to becoming an effective leader in the profession to over 200 3rd year law students and newly minted lawyers.
- With the selection of our own GABWA Foundation as this year’s community partner, we will reinforce the notion that charity begins at home. The Foundation, funded through the efforts of the GABWA Glitter Gala and Auction (to be held on July 21, 2018 at the St. Regis Hotel) provides scholarships for law students, funds our Sister to Sister mentor program in Fulton and DeKalb counties, supports our statewide Wills Program, as well as funding the newest star in the Foundation’s programs, a Community Health Fair held in conjunction with Emory Healthcare.
The Founders, Founding Members and the 36 women who have preceded me as GABWA’s President and thus caretakers of this incredible organization were and continue to be true visionaries. I look forward to continuing this legacy as a dynamic disruptor who advocates for change on behalf of GABWA, women children and our community. I readily embrace the challenges and opportunities that the leadership of this organization will certainly bring as we move forward as stalwarts for effective change together. Here’s to a dynamically disruptive year!
Yours in Service to GABWA,
Rita M. Treadwell