2019 D&I Conference:Cultivating Diversity and Resilience in Challenging Times

Biennial D&I Conference

 Event Details and Programing


Keynote Presentation

Diverse Lawyers’ Resilience Toolkit

Even at its best, practicing law is as hard as it is heroic because our work centers on solving our clients’ toughest problems. As diverse lawyers, we face extra challenges as we seek to carve out a sense of belonging; overcome bias; and find the right role models, sponsors, and mentors to guide our ambitions. Developing resilience is essential. It can help us bounce back quickly from setbacks, face challenges with a positive perspective, and feel energized rather than depleted. This session will discuss science-backed strategies for experienced and aspiring leaders to bolster resilience, engagement, and retention of diverse lawyers and the whole organization.

Speaker: Ms. Anne Brafford is a founding member of Aspire, an educational and consulting firm for the legal profession, and a Vice Chair of the ABA Law Practice Division’s new Attorney Well-Being Committee.

Breakout Sessions

Someone Like Me Can Succeed at This: Members of the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association (MHBA) will reflect on their individual journeys to become successful lawyers and judges in Minnesota. You will learn about the challenges they faced and what motivated them to persevere. You will also hear about their current work and the work of their Affinity bar association as well as the challenges that remain to increase diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. The presentation may include a screening of the 30-minute documentary film "Someone Like Me Can Do This" produced by the MHBA.


  • Bryan Browning, Bassford Remele

  • Hon. Jeffrey Bryan, Second Judicial District

  • Lariss Maldonado, Stinson Leonard Street LLP

  • Esteban Rivera, Rivera Law Firm

Presented by: Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association


Implicit Bias in the Legal Profession: Mental Health and Double Stigma: This program demonstrates how and why implicit bias discussions in the legal profession must include mental health (including substance use) and stress issues.  It provides a general understanding of the concept of implicit bias and discusses how implicit bias stands in the way of lawyers seeking the help they need for mental health and stress issues.  While it’s hard for anyone to ask for help, there is a double stigma for those already in underrepresented groups.  This program addresses the challenge for lawyers, judges and law students to ask for help for mental health issues, the relationship between mental health issues and diversity and inclusion and a discussion of current challenges and strategies to address them.

Speaker: Joan Bibelhausen, Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers

Presented by: Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers

Beyond Visibility - Continuing Challenges for LGBTQ Lawyers
: Whether you're a litigator or transaction attorney, private practice or public interest, or working downtown Minneapolis or in Greater Minnesota, working as an openly LGBTQ+ lawyer can present its own unique challenges and opportunities. During this workshop, the panel will discuss and engage the audience in a wide range of topics, including: getting started in the legal professional as a young LGBTQ+ lawyer; the ongoing challenges facing LGBTQ+ lawyers, such as when and how to come out

to clients and colleagues; managing the stereotypes presumed of LGBTQ+ people in the profession; taking advantage of unique business development opportunities; staying involved in the community through pro bono and community outreach efforts; effective affinity groups and allies in the workplace and bar; and our resilience and vision for the future as LGBTQ+ lawyers.


  • Amy Conners, Best & Flanagan

  • Ellie Krug, Human Inspiration Works, LLC

  • Tom Pack, Maslon LLP

  • Hillary Taylor, Maslon LLP

Presented by: Minnesota Lavender Bar Association


Toxic Resiliency: Are We Asking People to Suffer in Silence In The Name of Resilience?: This moderated panel discussion will explore the intersection of, and potential tension between, resilience and self-care. Using examples from panelists’ lived experiences in facing career challenges as minority attorneys, we will examine questions such as: Is the push toward encouraging increased resilience coming at the cost of wellness? Are we risking burn-out, job dissatisfaction, and employers’ loss of attorney talent by continually pushing grit and resilience without acknowledging the need for self-care and replenishment of “gritty” reserves? Are we expecting too much resiliency—“toxic resiliency”? How much are minority attorneys expected or encouraged to “put up with”? Are expectations of non-diverse attorneys the same? Is there a double standard; and, if so, how do you navigate it?


  • Kendra Brodin, Briggs and Morgan

  • Alex Dyste-Demet, Regional Solicitor's Office

  • Veena Iyer, Nilan Johnson Lewis PA

  • Michelle Miller, Medtronic, Inc.

  • Maria Mitchell, Ramsey County Attorneys Office

  • Adine Momoh, Stinson Leonard Street LLP

Presented by: Minnesota Women Lawyers 

Supporting Inclusivity Through Mentoring and Sponsorship:
As lawyers, we are called upon to improve the quality of justice and of the legal profession. We are mandated to receive education on how to identify and eliminate bias from the legal profession and the practice of law to carry out the aspirational goal to build an inclusive and diverse profession. Inclusivity is a necessary if we are to achieve a diverse and equitable legal profession. This program explores how effective legal mentors and sponsors can support inclusivity through the eyes of the newest generation of lawyers. 


  • Judith Rush, Director of Mentor Externship, University of St. Thomas School of Law

  • Aurelia Phillips, 2L Student, University of St. Thomas School of Law

  • Nora Huxtable, 3L Student,  University of St. Thomas School of Law


Beyond Minnesota Nice: The Realities of Finding Community in the Bold North: According to research by Make it MSP, professionals of color are 76% more likely to leave the Twin Cities than their white counterparts. At the same time, our region is facing a workforce shortage. In order to retain diverse talent, Minnesotans need to take action to build a more inclusive community. Join us for a robust panel discussion to hear from attorneys who moved to Minnesota and decided to stay. Learn how they built resiliency to overcome barriers and find community, and some of the challenges they continue to face in making Minnesota their home. Panelists will share ideas for steps you can take to create more inclusion in our community.


  • Richard Greiffenstein, Jackson Lewis

  • Paula Kanne, Dorsey & Whitney

  • Ann Jenrette Thomas, Stinson Leonard Street

  • Darnell Cage, Fredrikson and Byron

  • Summra Shariff, Twin Cities Diversity in Practice

Presented by: Twin Cities Diversity In Practice


Develop Your Plan for Success- Creating Your Own Personal Strategic Plan: The goal of this program is to introduce attendees to the concept of strategic planning, the benefits of having a personal plan, and the tools for creating one.  Examples of strategic plans will be shared with attendees.

Speaker: Hon. Peter Reyes


Tying It Together: Maintaining Resilience As You Build Your Personal Brand & Legacy: A 2018 study on bias conducted for the ABA reported that lawyers of color experience bias as it relates to multiple areas as they seek to advance in their careers. This includes receiving high quality assignments; receiving fair performance evaluations; and getting promoted, to name a few areas. This program builds on the themes presented throughout the day by tying it all together as the speakers discuss how to use an entrepreneurial and 'intrapreneurial' mindset for career advancement as you define your personal brand and start building your legacy.


  • Tisidra Jones, Strong & Starlike Consulting, Inc.

  • Zaylore Stout, Zaylore Stout & Associates, LLC.