The Next Generation of Leaders in Action: 2023 Fellows and Pathfinder Fall Meetings

WASHINGTON, DC — The 2023 classes of Fellows and Pathfinders showed up in droves to the Marriott Marquis, Washington, DC, for the LCLD community’s most eventful week of the year. From full-class sessions to breakout groups, substantive programming to social events, the 2023 Fellows and Pathfinder Fall Meetings offered attendees a myriad of opportunities to grow and nurture their networks, skills, and goals. 

On Wednesday, October 11, the 2023 Pathfinders kickstarted their meeting with an opportunity to reconnect during a welcome reception and dine-arounds, a beloved LCLD tradition that fuels small group engagement over a meal. On Thursday morning, Pathfinders jumped right into their programming with a session on how to navigate the “producer/manager/leader dilemma” pervasive in legal careers. The group then split in two, with law firm Pathfinders spending additional time with Carrie Fletcher, Affiliate Instructor at Harvard Law School Executive Education, and in-house Pathfinders with John Mitchell, “The Purple Coach” and Owner of KM Advisors, LLC.

In the afternoon, Mitchell Karp and MaLora McCollough of VallotKarp explored the intricacies of working effectively across differences. Through interactive group exercises, Pathfinders discussed stereotypes they’ve faced as part of their self-selected identity group. Then, the Pathfinders closed out their first day with three rotations of Networking Round Robin, a brand-new, fast-paced social session that proved an instant Pathfinder favorite. After a group photo in the Marriott Marquis’ light-filled lobby, the class took a much-needed break to recharge from the full day of programming. 

Meanwhile that Thursday afternoon, the 2023 Fellows gathered for their first substantive session, “GoalGetters: Leveling Up with Strategic Intention and Goal Setting.” Led by Paula Edgar, CEO of PGE Consulting Group, LLC, the session was thoughtfully designed to help Fellows move beyond traditional goal setting methods and tap into their inner greatness.  

Once both groups wrapped their programming, the fun wasn’t over yet — still to come was an evening reception at the National Portrait Gallery. Just a 10-minute stroll from the hotel, the Gallery’s vast courtyard atrium buzzed with LCLD General Counsel and Managing Partner Members, LCLD Diversity Professionals, and their LCLD Alumni guests. Combined with the 2023 Fellows and Pathfinder classes, the LCLD museum takeover was nearly 1,000 strong, stretching from the atrium up and around the four stories of famous portraits, artwork, and artifacts from American history. 

People from across the LCLD community chatted, dined, and connected while the talented Sweet Potatoes Music serenaded the crowd. 360° photobooths lined the walls, enticing reception-goers to step up for a one-of-a-kind way to commemorate the event. In massive letters across one of the courtyard walls was a bold reminder, amid the fun and festivities, of how this community continuously impacts the legal profession: LEADERSHIP. ACTION. RESULTS. 

Both the Fellows and Pathfinders started Friday morning with breakfast and a chance to recount the prior evening’s happenings. It may have been Friday the 13th, but the Pathfinders received “Advice from the Trenches” on creating their own career success from crowd favorites Corporate Homie: 2012 LCLD Fellow Demetra Liggins, Partner at McGuireWoods LLP, and Bemetra Simmons, CEO & President of Tampa Bay Partnership. Meanwhile, the Fellows split into two breakout groups: one heard from Chris De Santis, Specialist in Management & Organizational Development, on “Embracing Lopsidedness” in feedback and evaluation systems, and the other engaged in a communication-themed improvisation session with DC Improv.

Mary Abbajay, President & Founder of Careerstone Group, LLC, led Pathfinders in a post-lunch session on “Managing Up,” where participants explored how to thrive under different management styles and, ultimately, become effective managers themselves. Afterward, 2016 Fellow Brenda Howdershell, Chair-Elect of the LCLD Alumni Executive Council and Lead Counsel at Allstate, joined Alumni Program Manager Alyssa Yuen to introduce the class to the breadth of programming awaiting them as they join the LCLD Alumni ranks and embark on the next phase of their LCLD experience. 

To close out the 2023 class year, Pathfinder Program Manager Sarah Alexander announced the inaugural Atlas Award winners. An astounding 109 Pathfinders rose to the top of their class for active engagement in the program, nearly 70% of whom attended nine or more events this year.

As for the Fellows, Friday afternoon started with Alyssa and Brenda’s presentation on “What Comes Next” before the class once again split into their breakout groups, this time swapping sessions. The Fellows’ final Friday session featured Brian Stolarz, Senior Counsel at Norton Rose Fulbright, who shared the emotional story of Alfred Dewayne Brown’s unjust incarceration and the years-long effort to exonerate him. Dewayne joined Brian onstage for a Q&A session with the Fellows, who left with a strong reminder of why they chose the legal profession in the first place. (The LCLD staff left with a strong reminder to provide tissues the next time Brian and Dewayne present.

After their final breakfast together on Saturday morning, the 2023 Fellows convened for a session on feedback and accountability with Mary Abbajay. LCLD Fellows Director Nichole Velasquez closed out the meeting with a recap video reflecting on the class’s accomplishments over the past several months — and a reminder of the opportunities to come in what remains of the 2023 Fellows year.

This year’s Fall Meetings were ones for the books — but don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what 2023 Fellows and Pathfinders are saying on LinkedIn: 

It doesnt get much better being a lawyer than last week at the LCLD Fall Meeting in Washington DC. It was great to connect with old friends and make new ones, all while figuring out how to advance a more diverse, welcoming, equitable, and dynamic legal profession. […]

I am honored to represent Everlaw in so many ways, but especially as a 2023 LCLD Fellow.

— 2023 Fellow Russell Vickers, Everlaw

Imagine being in a large room filled with intelligent, accomplished, and kind individuals from different parts of the nation, each with their own unique backgrounds and perspectives. Think about the incredible conversations, connections, and empowerment that could result from such an experience.

I’m fortunate to say that I didnt have to imagine this scenario; I lived it over the past few days during the Fall 2023 Fellows meeting.

These past two days were as amazing as you can picture. I had the opportunity to meet attorneys from across the nation, where we shared our challenges, celebrated our victories, and learned from each other and the various events organized by LCLD. […]

One of the most valuable aspects of this program is its ability to remind us that, beneath our unique identities, we are all human beings.

— 2023 Fellow Karina Sargsian, Holland & Hart LLP

Still riding high on the energy from LCLD’s 2023 Fall Fellows meeting in DC! This week was a gift and served as a reminder that each of us has more power and capability than we may believe to make meaningful change happen. Doing what is right will not always be what is easy; present day inequities and barriers may seem insurmountable, but we are not alone in this fight.

— 2023 Fellow Rachel Hyerim Sisco, Cisco

After travelling 4,535.61 miles, attending unforgettable in-person sessions in San Diego and D.C., hailing several pedicabs, and completing countless modules/webinars, I am happy to report that I have completed the 8-month 2023 LCLD Pathfinder Program. 

It has been an honor and privilege to learn from, network with, and meet hundreds of phenomenal advisors, elite attorneys, and leading executives.

— 2023 Pathfinder Ray Hernandez, Paul Hastings LLP

One of my close friends from law school was a 1L Scholar of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, and she’s spoken highly of the organization ever since. Last year, she urged me to see if my firm, Thompson Coburn LLP, would sponsor me to join the program. Lo and behold, I’d learned that my firm was already an LCLD Member, and I was selected to represent them as a 2023 Pathfinder.

Over the past year, the LCLD Pathfinder program has provided me with lifelong career lessons, colleagues, and even friends. I have no doubt that my graduation from the program marks the beginning of an amazing journey as an LCLD Alumnus. I’m grateful my firm was willing to invest in my professional development.

— 2023 Pathfinder Kayla M. Siam, Thompson Coburn LLP

I’m feeling incredibly BLESSED to have once again had opportunity to spend days with an incredible group of growing diverse leaders in the legal profession. There is an indescribable power and energy gained from being around a group like this. Special thanks to Edward Sebold, Glen Kutler, and Ann Schlaffman for trusting me to represent Kyndryl as a Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Fellow and for investing in my growth. So many lessons learned and relationships developed! […]

Leadership is INTENTIONAL and I’m excited to put it all into practice! I’m happy to now be an LCLD Alum!

— 2023 Fellow Malaika K. Caldwell, Kyndryl

Over the last few days, I had the opportunity to attend the 2023 LCLD Fall Fellows meeting alongside attorneys from across the globe. The experience was not just enriching but transformative, offering hope and inspiration. […]

One of the conferences highlights was the Fellows sharing and discussing their experiences, challenges, and perspectives. It was a powerful reminder that our differences are not just to be acknowledged but celebrated because fostering a world where diversity is not just a concept but a lived reality forms the foundation of our collective success.

— 2023 Fellow Tonia Hashimoto, Adobe