Diversity Conference

Peter C. Burnett, Chair

The Diversity Conference of the VSB is the only conference of the VSB that solicits individual attorney members. At this writing, it has about 135 members.


  • Chair - Peter C. Burnett
  • Chair-elect - Rupen Shah
  • Secretary - Eva Juncker
  • Treasurer - Rupen Shah
  • Immediate Past Chair - Michael Hu Young

Programs and Activities

The Diversity Conference Board of Governors and members continue to work on the programs and other activities described in previous reports to Bar Council. A brief update of each activity follows.

The Fore Diversity Golf Tournament at the VSB Annual Meeting in June, under the leadership of Ed Weiner, Kai Memmer and others, was again a success. As this best ball tournament is not restricted to VSB members, many teams include non-lawyers who, coincidently, seem to be remarkably good golfers. Fund raising was brisk, with several substantial sponsorships in place.

The success of the Hill-Tucker Pre-Law Institute (HTI) at the University of Richmond inspired its principal organizers and supporters, Providence Napoleon, Latoya Asia, and Clarence Dunnaville to expand its class size and demographic footprint for 2013. In conjunction with the Virginia Diversity Foundation, HTPI applied for a grant from the Virginia Law Foundation in January seeking financial support to host a class of 40 students from all parts of Virginia. In years past, the student census has been closer to 20, and the majority of attendees have hailed from the Richmond area. In April, the Virginia Law Foundation announced its award of $10,000 to the Virginia Diversity Foundation for the HTI program. Several major Virginia law firms have made substantial contributions.

Rupen Shah, our chair-elect, emceed a Jazz4Justice check presentation ceremony at James Madison University on February 14. The second annual concert was held on September 29. Ticket sales and sponsorships provided scholarship funding for JMU music students and much needed funds for Blue Ridge Legal Aid.

Again this year, Justice Cleo Powell and Kathy Mays Coleman spearheaded the popular Rule of Law/Students Day at the Capitol Program. This program enjoys the support and participation of the Virginia Law Foundation, the VSB's Young Lawyers Conference, the VSB Diversity Conference, the Virginia Bar Association's Rule of Law Project, and the Schools Program of the Richmond Public Schools. The tireless, creative and inspirational leadership of Justice Powell and Kathy Mays Coleman resulted in a robust program at the Capitol that included speaking appearances by Governor and Lt. Governor as well as many other dignitaries.

In conjunction with the Virginia Women Attorneys Association, the Diversity Conference sponsored a program at its annual meeting on June 14 titled, "Diversity and the Rule of Law: Complementary or Contradictory?" Our first of three panelists was Jonathan Alger, an attorney and the new President of James Madison University, who played a leadership role in two landmark Supreme Court cases on diversity and university admissions. As Assistant General Counsel at the University of Michigan he coordinated one of the largest amicus brief coalitions in Supreme Court history. He is undoubtedly one of the country's leading authorities on the interplay between the rule of law and programs intended to promote diversity. President Alger was joined on the panel by Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, president of UMBC. Dr. Hrabowski was selected by Time Magazine in 2012 as one of the 100 most influential leaders in the world. He is an author and dynamic speaker who presides over a school with a student body hailing from more than 140 countries. The third panelist was Roger Clegg, CEO and General Counsel for the Center for Equal Opportunity, a conservative research and educational organization specializing in civil rights. Mr. Clegg has extensive experience as a high ranking member of the Department of Justice during the Bush Administration and has joined in several amicus briefs on the subject of race conscious college and university admissions. We are thrilled that US Court of Appeals Judge Barbara M. Keenan moderated the panel The program was approved for 1.5 hours of CLE credit.

Continuing Legal Education Programs

The Annual Meeting program describe above was approved for 1.5 hours of CLE credit.

Significant Issues

As most Council members know, the Council, at is June meeting, voted to include a Diversity Conference representative on the Executive Committee.

Updated: Jul 09, 2013