MoveMakers & NewsMakers for Nov. 22, 2022
See who is making news and moving where in the weekly Missouri Bar update "MoveMakers & NewsMakers."
The Association of Corporate Counsel - St. Louis Chapter (ACC STL) was recognized in October with the 2021 Diversity Award by the Association of Corporate Counsel global association for its Diversity Bridges' Underground Railroad program that provided members with the opportunity to take a guided tour of the Underground Railroad in Southern Illinois.
The program was organized by ACC STL’s Bridges, a subcommittee of the organization's diversity and inclusion committee. The subcommittee co-chairs were Nancy McCahan, managing general counsel of Sugar Creek Capital, and Denise Campbell Whitener, senior company counsel of Wells Fargo & Co. The chair of the committee was Tamee Reese, assistant vice president – senior legal counsel for DIRECTV, and the current chair is Vikas Sunkari, senior managing counsel of SSM Health.
“It’s an honor that the St. Louis Chapter was given this award, and I’m glad I was able to assist in that recognition with the planning and execution of our Bridges group event. Our committee planned this event to provide an opportunity for our members to experience an important part of the history of our area and country up close and personal,” said McCahan.
“While this was a successful program, I believe it is the existence and uniqueness of the chapter’s Bridges group that likely played a significant role in earning the chapter this recognition,” added McCahan.
Bridges, formed in 2015 by then Diversity Committee Chair Kristol Simms, is a group of racially diverse members of ACC STL who engage in various activities, such as attending a relevant concert, play, art exhibit, or movie together; discussing a relevant book; or dining with each other in restaurants specializing in various ethnic cuisines. The purpose of these activities is to have respectful and open communication that crosses racial and cultural divides and to develop friendships and a stronger community.
For this program, Bridges group members experienced a private, guided tour, led by Prof. J.E. Robinson, historian and Underground Railroad expert. The event was organized by the Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau about the significance of the Underground Railroad in Alton and Godfrey, Illinois. Participants visited sites throughout Alton and Godfrey where escaped slaves took refuge as they worked their way to freedom while Prof. Robinson told stories of the escaping slaves and what they might have gone through, including legal aspects of becoming free, and about those in the area who helped the enslaved in their journey to get to a free state. Sites visited included a basement tunnel in what is now an Alton apartment building; Rocky Fork Church, which purportedly was the first stop in a free state for escaped slaves leaving Missouri; and Union Baptist Church, which is considered one of the first Black churches in Illinois.
“It is hard to put into words how great this experience was. Professor Robinson’s passion for preserving our memory of the Underground Railroad resonated in his stories of heroic freedom seekers’ struggles and triumphs. It was truly inspirational and a memorable learning experience for us all,” said Whitener.
“What made this event special is that it encouraged deep and meaningful conversations amongst our members as we learned more about racial and cultural issues in America and personal stories of courage and hope,” added Whitener.
Students and alumni from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law were recently recognized with awards and scholarships by two local legal organizations with diverse memberships.
The Jackson County Bar Association, which primarily represents Black attorneys, has recognized State Sen. Barbara Anne Washington (J.D., '97) with the 2022 Lewis W. Clymer Award. Clymer was an assistant prosecuting attorney, assistant attorney general for Missouri, municipal court judge, and circuit court judge. The award recognizes a minority attorney for their service to the community and their promotion of the integrity of the legal profession.
The organization also awarded Kit Carson Roque, Jr. scholarships to third year UMKC law students Sommari T. Muwwakkil II and Jamie Powell. The Roque scholarship is named in honor of the late Kit Carson Roque, Jr. (J.D., '76) who served as both a Jackson County Circuit Court judge and a civil rights attorney for the U.S. Department of Education.
The Hispanic Bar Association of Greater Kansas City awarded three scholarships to UMKC law students: Alejandro Villalobos, Julia Hernandez, and Myriam Paniagua. The scholarships were awarded at the organization’s 30th anniversary scholarship reception, which featured a keynote address by Judge Justine E. Del Muro (B.A. ‘78, J.D. ’84), a Jackson County Circuit Court judge.