Diversity Conference

Carole H. Capsalis, Chair


Officers for the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year:

  • Carole H. Capsalis, Chair
  • Luis Perez, Chair-Elect
  • Latoya Asia, Immediate Past Chair
  • Chidi James, Treasurer
  • David D. Masterman, Secretary


Number of members of the Diversity Conference:  764

Special Activities/Programs/Achievements during the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year:

  1. 2018 Law School Mentor/Mentee Initiative – VSB Annual Meeting

For the fourth year, the Diversity Conference invited law students from each Virginia law school to attend the 2018 VSB Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach.  Under this Initiative, Deans of each of the respective law schools in Virginia select two of their outstanding students whom they feel reflect their schools’ respective diversity goals and excellence in studies. Each of the law students were paired with at least one practicing attorney from the Diversity Conference who served as mentor to the student at the Annual Meeting. The students were invited to participate in all Annual Meeting events.  The Law Student Mentees attended many of the showcase CLE sessions, the presentation of the Dunnaville Diversity Achievement Award, other plenary programming, sports activities, law school alumni breakfasts and various networking opportunities with their mentors.  After attending the Opening Reception on Thursday afternoon, the mentees also attended a special dinner with their mentors and special guests, including President Doris Causey, Justice Cleo Powell, Clarence Dunnaville, and the presidents of the ODBA and the Northern Virginia Black Attorneys Association.  In addition, the students also attended the President’s Banquet, were welcomed by Incoming President Len Heath, and had the opportunity to meet with many members of the Bench and Bar. Sixteen dynamic law students attended the Annual Meeting under this initiative this year and they were enthusiastically welcomed by members of the Bench and Bar in attendance at each of events in which they participated. Board member Latoya Asia chaired the initiative this year.

  1. Eighth Annual Fore Diversity Golf Tournament – 2018 VSB Annual Meeting

On Thursday, June 14, 2018, the 8th Annual Fore Diversity Tournament was held during the VSB Annual Meeting.  The Tournament saw yet another successful and rewarding year in which a record number of golfers shared fellowship, sportsmanship and laughs.  Board member Eva Juncker chaired the tournament committee this year.

  1. Showcase CLE “Rallies, Riots and Remonstrations: What does the First Amendment Protect, and What Limits Are There for Citizens, Local Governments, and Law Enforcement?”  - 2018 VSB Annual Meeting

The Diversity Conference presented “Rallies, Riots and Remonstrations: What does the First Amendment Protect, and What Limits Are There for Citizens, Local Governments, and Law Enforcement?”  on 10:10 a.m. Friday morning, June 15, 2018 at the Hilton Oceanfront to an audience that filled the main ballroom. The panel of Claire Gastañaga, Esq., Executive Director, ACLU of Virginia; Kathleen Dooley, City Attorney for the City of Fredericksburg; and Allen Groves, Vice Dean of Students at University of Virginia Law School, a national lecturer on First Amendment issues and in particular, its application to America's public universities, riveted the audience as they discussed this dynamic topic.  The Hon. Michael S. Nachmanoff, U.S. Magistrate, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, served as moderator. Co-sponsor organizations included the Northern Virginia Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, the Local Government Attorneys of Virginia, the Hispanic Bar Association of Virginia, the Old Dominion Bar Association, VSB Access to Legal Services Committee, Northern Virginia Black Attorneys Association, and the Virginia Equality Bar Association.  Board member Sheila Costin chaired the Showcase committee this year.

  1. 2018 Clarence M. Dunnaville, Jr. Achievement Award – presented at the VSB Annual Meeting

The Hon. Rupen Shah, General District Court Judge of the 25th Circuit, former Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney for Augusta County, and past Chair and Board of Governor of the Diversity Conference received the Diversity Conference’s 2018 Clarence M. Dunnaville, Jr. Achievement Award, which honors an individual who exemplifies excellence that members can emulate to meet its mission and goal of fostering, encouraging and facilitating diversity and inclusion in the Bar, the Judiciary and the legal profession.  

As so eloquently stated by his nominator, Judge Shah “exemplifies excellence in promoting and working for diversity and serving the underserved”.   The Diversity Conference was privileged to have Mr.  Dunnaville on hand for the presentation of the award to Judge Shah.  

  1. 2018 Oliver Hill/Samuel Tucker Pre-Law Institute

A record number of students will be attending The Oliver Hill/Samuel Tucker Pre-Law Institute (HTI), being held on July 8-13, 2018 at the University of Richmond. Named for legendary civil rights attorneys Oliver Hill and Samuel Tucker, HTI reaches future lawyers at an early age (high school) to provide them with exposure and opportunity to explore the legal profession, at no cost to the participants.  Students in this year’s HTI participated in various activities to include, among other things, a networking reception, sessions on closing and opening statements, and evidence, a mock trial, and an etiquette dinner. As in past years, the continued success of HTI was made possible with a grant from the Virginia Law Foundation and, for the second year as a funded Conference, from the budget of the Diversity Conference. The Young Lawyers Conference co-sponsored the Institute and members of the Diversity Conference and the Young Lawyers Conference are serving in several volunteer capacities for the week long program.  Board members Latoya Asia and Carole Capsalis chaired the HTI committee and thank and appreciate the tremendous efforts of new HTI co-directors Wesley Allen and Courtney Frazier. 

  1. 2018 Students’ Day at the Capitol/Rule of Law Program

The Diversity Conference co-sponsored and provided volunteers for the 2018 Students’ Day at the Capitol/Rule of Law Program held on Wednesday, March 29, 2018.  Chair Carole Capsalis and Board of Governors Latoya Asia and Alicia Roberts served on the planning committee for this year’s program.  The program includes collaboration with the Virginia Law Foundation, Virginia Bar Association, VSB YLC, Rule of Law Project, and the academic community in the Richmond and Henrico Public School areas.  Using a partnership with teachers, lawyers, judges, and students, the program seeks to provide students with an enriching and interactive experience about the importance of the rule of law in their daily lives.  This program helps students better understand the need to preserve and protect the rule of law as the foundation for the rights and freedoms we enjoy in the United States.

  1. YLC Bench-Bar Dinner

The Diversity Conference hosted two tables at the 2018 YLC Bench-Bar Dinner on March 29, 2018 honoring this year’s newly elevated and distinguished jurists.  Diversity Conference guests included the Hon. Cleo Powell, Clarence Dunnaville, and his son, Peter Dunnaville, the Hon. Marilyn Goss, and Jada Moss, a 2017 Annual Meeting law student mentee alumni.

Chair Carole H. Capsalis accepted the Award of Achievement presented to the Diversity Conference from YLC Chair Elect Brian Wesley for its partnership with the YLC for the Hill Tucker Institute Program for which the YLC received the ABA Young Lawyers Division Diversity program award at the 2016-17 ABA Annual Meeting.           

H.  Virginia State Bar Special Committee on Access to Legal Services projects

The Diversity Conference, in partnership with VSB Access to Legal Services Committee, has embarked on two language access projects.  The first project underway is the translation of the Free and Low Cost Legal Resources in Virginia guide into Spanish. The Conference has coordinated volunteer members for this translation project in partnership with the Access to Legal Services Committee.  The Diversity Conference has also reached out to its members to involve them in the second project, to increase language access on the Committee’s VirginiaFreeLegalAnswers.org website.  There is currently no way for non-English speaking clients to interface with bilingual attorneys. The Conference will continue to engage its bilingual members to work directly with Access director Crista Gantz on the freelegalanswers.org language access initiative.   

I.  Diversity Conference First Annual Forum on Diversity and Inclusion in the Law

The Diversity Conference will present its first annual Diversity Forum and CLE this fall on November 9, 2018 at the University of Richmond Law School.  The forum will present dynamic issues related to and effecting the success of diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and judiciary.   Board member and incoming Chair Luis Perez is chairing this event.  

J. Publicity

The Diversity Conference is present on social media on Twitter and Facebook: http://twitter.com/vsbdc and https://www.facebook.com/dcvsb/.  Additionally, it has completed its first year publishing its Invictus newsletter, first published in June 2017, available on the VSB’s Diversity Conference website.    Board member Chris Fortier chairs the publicity matters. 

K.  Virginia Lawyer Magazine August 2018 issue.

The Diversity Conference will be featured in the August 2018 issue of the Virginia Lawyer magazine. 

Continuing Legal Education Programs Sponsored during the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year:

In addition to the Showcase CLE presentation at the 2018 Annual Meeting described above, the Diversity Conference partnered with the Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys (VADA) in a 1.0 CLE panel presentation of “Understanding Diversity as a Civil Trial Lawyer” on May 23, 2018, at the Hardywood Brewery in Richmond.  The CLE built on the themes introduced in the CLE the Conference presented at the CLBA’s Solo and Small Practitioner Forum in April 2017, “Understanding Diversity: The Changing Realities and Considerations in the Practice of Law in the Commonwealth of Virginia”.    The Program and Community Projects Committee organizes the CLE programs.

Diversity Conference Board of Governors FY 2018-2019

The Diversity Conference Board of Governors voted unanimously to approve the following slate of nominated candidates to serve as officers for the 2018-2019 year. These candidates were approved by unanimous vote at the Diversity Conference’s Annual Meeting and luncheon held at the VSB Annual Meeting on Friday, June 15, 2018 in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

  • Chair, Luis Perez
  • Chair-Elect, Chidi James
  • Treasurer, Sheila Costin
  • Secretary, David Masterman
Updated: Jul 10, 2018