FLAA launches Alumni Attorneys of Color affinity group.
As a student at Fordham Law, Brenda Gill was an industrious member of the class of 1995: She wrote for the Fordham International Law Journal, served on the Latin American Law Students Association, entertained her fellow students in Fordham Follies, and competed on the moot court team. However, after she graduated, she didn’t feel the same enthusiasm for her law school alma mater.
“I felt very engaged during my student days, but upon graduation, I did not feel nearly as connected,” she said. “I felt a big gap.”
As a woman of Puerto Rican descent, Gill thought that the Law School could do a better job engaging alumni like her; she was not alone in her desire to feel reconnected.
In order to strengthen relationships among Law School graduates of color, the Fordham Law Alumni Association has launched a new affinity group for Black, Latino, and Asian alumni. The group, Alumni Attorneys of Color (AAC), will increase networking and mentoring among its members, support professional development and assistance in career transitions, and be a visible and engaged presence for the Law School.
“The affinity groups for law students of color did not exist within the alumni groups,” said Gill.
After joining the FLAA board, Gill began connecting with her fellow Fordham alumni attorneys of color to discuss the creation of the AAC.
“Most everyone agreed that this affinity group was important to our community, and many of the people I spoke with are now members of the AAC steering committee,” she said.
The establishment of the AAC sets the stage for alumni to support diversity initiatives at the Law School in a spirit of collaboration. The stated mission of the newly formed affinity group is to build an active and engaged community of Black, Hispanic/Latino, and South/East Asian Fordham Law alumni and enhance their connection with one another and the entire Law School community.
“We had almost 70 participants from across the United States on our first AAC general membership call,” said Gill, who serves as AAC chair and works at RGP Legal as national business development director. “On the call, the fellow alumni attorneys of color were energized that we now have this group as a resource for one another.”
Since its launch in May, the ACC has over 100 members on its LinkedIn group. However, as Gill notes, “There are currently over 2,000 alumni that self-identify as attorneys of color that we hope will join the AAC in the near future.”
Based on a Fordham survey of alumni attorneys of color, over 70 percent of participants said they were not active members of the FLAA, a result that suggests many Fordham alumni of color feel similarly to how Gill initially felt after graduation. When asked which events they would be most likely to attend, almost 90 percent chose networking: a key goal of not only the FLAA but also the AAC.
“This group will aim to create better connectivity among Law School community members and alumni groups,” said Anilu Vazquez-Ubarri, AAC steering committee member and chief diversity officer and global head of talent development at Goldman Sachs.
Vazquez-Ubarri adds that, while Dean Matthew Diller and Fordham administrators encourage diversity and inclusion among current students, she hopes the AAC will foster even greater engagement at the alumni level and beyond.
“The AAC is not just about Fordham but also the legal community at large,” she said. “We want to let everyone know that there is a robust, diverse community of lawyers who are the product of a Fordham Law education. Alumni are in diverse jobs and institutions. It’s very important that we focus not just on diversity but also on inclusion.”
AAC steering committee member Andy Hinton ’89, who works as vice president and chief compliance officer at Google, describes the communal strength of the affinity group.
“Often it can be difficult for one or even a few voices to be heard,” he said. “However, a collection of voices speaking in the same way about the same challenges is powerful. Fordham Law School will benefit from the collective output of the AAC.”
In order to enhance the connection among alumni of color and the Law School community at large, the AAC will host an annual in-person event at the Law School. In addition, the AAC will look to create subcommittees to focus on networking, mentoring, and professional and business development. Finally, the AAC will seek to identify liaisons who will focus on the individual Black, Latino, and Asian communities as well as serving as a conduit for current law school groups and the ACC.
Alumni interested in joining the group or serving on the steering committee should contact firstname.lastname@example.org and join the Fordham Law Alumni Attorneys of Color Affinity Group on LinkedIn.