CHICAGO – More than 300 legal and business community leaders gathered on Aug. 16 to honor the contributions of three noted Chicago diversity trailblazers at Barnes & Thornburg’s eighth annual Celebration of Diversity dinner. Addressing the audience with a keynote that called for an end to the normalization of racism and sexism in our schools and workplaces was Shari Runner, president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League.
“There is no doubt that this year’s Celebration of Diversity landed during a critical time where important conversations about diversity and inclusion in our own communities and workplaces need to be taking place,” said Richard Boykin, partner in the Chicago and Washington, D.C., offices of Barnes & Thornburg, member of the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and founder of the annual event. “Ms. Runner’s speech, and the overall theme of the night, reminded us all about the role we must play to break down barriers and take steps in the right direction.”
The dinner and awards ceremony, held at the University Club of Chicago, recognized leaders who have exhibited a personal and professional commitment to diversity, justice and civil rights. Awards were given to the following individuals:
- Joset Wright-Lacy, president of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), who makes it her mission to ensure minority-owned businesses have equal access to work and opportunities on a national scale, while challenging and empowering them to rise to the level of their potential.
- Clement Martin, president of Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School in Chicago, who has been committed to social justice and making quality education opportunities accessible to all students throughout his career. He aims to both educate and empower students, and for the last six years under his leadership, the school has seen 100 percent college acceptance.
- The Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, is one of America’s foremost civil rights, religious and political figures and a Chicago icon. He has played a pivotal role in virtually every movement for empowerment, peace, civil rights, gender equality, and economic and social justice.
In lauding the honorees, Boykin added, “Barnes &Thornburg continues to show that we are committed to not only creating a platform to have important conversations about diversity and inclusion, but also to taking time to celebrate and honor those who have done remarkable things that we can all learn from. As Rev. Jackson told the attendees, ‘People do not drown because of deep water. We drown when we stop kicking.’”
“At Barnes & Thornburg, the business of diversity and inclusion is aligned with the business of the firm. It is the motivating words, insights and courageous leadership from individuals such as those we honored at this inspiring event that set the tone for each of us,” said Mark Rust, managing partner of the Chicago office of Barnes & Thornburg.
Sponsors of Barnes & Thornburg’s eighth annual Celebration of Diversity event were The Chicago Lighthouse, Constellation Brand Beer Division, and the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce.
With more than 600 attorneys and other legal professionals, Barnes & Thornburg is one of the largest law firms in the country. The firm serves clients worldwide from its offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Delaware, Indiana, Los Angeles, Michigan, Minneapolis, Ohio, and Washington, D.C. For more information, visit us online at www.btlaw.com or on Twitter @BTLawNews.