Home > Local & Specialty Bars > Alliance of Black Women Attorneys

Alliance of Black Women Attorneys

History of the Alliance of Black Women Attorneys

The Alliance of Black Women Attorneys of Maryland, an affiliate of the National Bar Association and the American Bar Association, was established in 1979. As Maryland’s first bar association developed by and for black women, the primary purpose of the founders was the creation of a network to enhance the professional development of African-American women attorneys. Originally, the Alliance advanced three major goals: (1) promoting the interests of African-American women attorneys: (2) improving the skills for the efficient practice of the profession; and (3) increasing the viability and recognition of African-American women attorneys.

The Alliance has been blessed to have the following distinguished and accomplished past presidents whose visions have provided a formidable foundation and promising future.

Dep. Mayor Jeanne Hitchcock (1979-1985)

Tina Jolivet (2000-2001)

Donna L. Jacobs (1985-1987)

Karen Scott (2001-2002)

Donna Hill Staton (1987-1988)

Cheryl Y. Haskins (2002-2003)

Illona Sheffey Rawlings (1988-1989)

Robyn C. Scates (2003-2004)

Joyce Hanks Knox (1989-1990)

Erica I. LeMon (2004-2005)

B. Harriette Taylor (1990-1991)

Teresa Epps (2005-2006)

Master Zakia Mahasa (1991-1992)

Kisha Bown (2006-2007)

Sandra Holmes (1992-1993)

Arielle Harry-Bess (2007-2008)

Alison Velez Lane (1993-1994)

Katrina Moore (2008-2009)

Hon. Lisa Gladden (1994-1995)

Monifa B. Coaxum (2009-2010)

Hon. Angela Eaves (1995-1996)

Savonne L. Ferguson (2010-2011)

Gloria Wilson Shelton (1996-1997)

Kay N. Harding (2011-2012)

Hon. Lynn Stewart (1997-1998)

Alicia Lynn Wilson (2012-2013)

Kimberly Ross (1998-1999)

Myshala E. Middleton (2013-2014)

Arlene Grant (1999-2000)

 

Shortly after its founding, the Alliance broadened its focus to support and encourage women to seek judicial appointments. Soon after, Alliance member Mabel Houze Hubbard became the first African-American woman judge in Maryland History. Subsequently, Bonita J. Dancy, C. Yvonne Holt-Stone, Donna Hill Staton, Melanie Shaw, Michelle Hotten, Sheila Tillerson, Angela Eaves, Lynn Stewart, Alice P. Clark and more continue to be appointed to the bench in Maryland.

The Alliance further expanded its goals to include providing community service activities. Over the years, the Alliance has sponsored numerous activities including continuing legal education seminars, programs for new minority bar admittees, scholarships to outstanding black law students, professional development luncheons with recognized legal and/or political figures and a conference on preventing violence among youth. In 1995 the Alliance co-sponsored of the National Bar Associations’ Annual Convention in Baltimore and was responsible for planning a retreat, scholarship breakfast, and a legal education seminar for members of the Women Lawyers Division.

The Alliance was recognized by the Maryland State Bar Association at MSBA's Bar President’s Conference on October 23, 2003 by winning a Best Service to the Public Project Award for its Law Related Education Program. The Daily Record sponsored this event. The Alliance of Black Women Attorneys of Maryland, Inc. was delighted to sponsor the nomination of Past President, Cheryl Haskins, who won an award for this project.

The Alliance has continued its public service in the community by sponsoring mentoring partnerships with the University of Baltimore and the University of Maryland; continuing its partnership with Lake Clifton/Eastern High School which was formed in 2003 and consists of hosting a half-day seminar for students in the Law-Related Education Program. In March and April of 2004, the Alliance hosted a two-part resume writing and interview seminar for the students in the Lake Clifton-Eastern Law-Related Education Program. In continuing our community service, the Alliance sponsored an essay contest for high school students in the law related program.

The Alliance joined in celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Landmark Decision: Brown v. Board of Education. Alliance executive board members have participated in panel discussions on the landmark case. Alliance members have twice been guests on the George Collins radio program on WEAA once to speak on African American continued obligations to our community today and then to discuss the impact of the upcoming election on the African American community. We also arranged financial planning presentations for our members. The Alliance of Black Women Attorneys of Maryland continues to be dedicated to educating and empowering its membership and our community. In November, 2004, the Alliance celebrated its 25th Anniversary and Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Justice the Honorable Robert M. Bell presided over the swearing in ceremony.

In 2004 to 2005, the Alliance began the monthly Women of Distinction Lunch Series. These high powered lunches provided an intimate gathering featuring distinguished and successful women who have and are making a difference. We continued our annual tradition of the Alliance Tea which is held in December of every year. In celebration of Black History Month, we had dinner and a movie with the law students at University of Baltimore. We continued the Lake Clifton project. The members of the Alliance collected and donated several clothing items to Suited for Success. We also enjoyed a day of beauty fund-raiser where participants were pampered and beautified. The Alliance also joined with the Black Women’s Bar of Suburban Maryland in the first Annual Founder’s day Tea. We honored our founders Deputy Mayor Jeanne Hitchcock and the multi-talented Georgia Goslee. We all had a grand time at this event. The Alliance presented beautiful artwork from a local African American artist to our founders. We also reinstated the annual New Admittees reception where we honored Chief Judge Bell and Circuit Court Administrative Judge Marcella Holland for all of their support of the organization. There were several other esteemed members of the judiciary, law school administrators and other prominent members of the legal community in attendance. Later in the summer, the Alliance co-sponsored a networking event.

During 2005-2006, we held our 10th Annual Holiday Tea in conjunction with a toy drive for the House of Ruth. We continued the Brown Bag Lunch Series featuring some amazing and phenomenal women. The Alliance then teamed up with the House of Ruth and the Empowerment Temple AME church for an ice cream social. The women and children truly appreciated our time and efforts. In celebration of Black History Month, the Alliance co-sponsored the “Color at the Bar” discussion with the Monumental City Bar Association at the University of Baltimore. During Women’s History month in March, the Alliance profiled African-American women who made a substantial impact on Maryland and the nation. The Alliance and Monumental joined for a night of Bowling and later a happy hour greet n’ meet with the University of Baltimore and the University of Maryland. The Alliance, supported by the Associated Black Charities’ African American Jurist Archive Fund, honored all of the past-presidents of the Alliance at the Celebration of Life Luncheon at the Harbor Court Hotel. We are extremely proud of our past-presidents as they include great female judges, politicians, attorneys, and legal & nonlegal professionals. Additionally, Lena K. Lee was honored at the luncheon as we celebrated her 100th birthday. Ms. Lee stood and spoke with purpose and grace during this momentous occasion. We also honored Judge Mabel Houze Hubbard for her tireless efforts to support and educate African-American female attorneys. The year ended in July with our tradition of the welcoming newly admitted attorneys at our annual reception.

During the 2007-2008 bar year, the ABWA focused on professional development and community service. Some highlights of the 2007-2008 bar year included the ABWA Golf Clinic, How To Make Your Net Work, Managing Your Legal Career, New Millennium Civil Rights Struggle: Your Role panel discussion (co-sponsored with MCBA and UM Law BLSA), a Judicial Reception (co-sponsored with the WBA), a Luncheon Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King (co-sponsored with MCBA and BCBA), Women of Color in the Legal Profession: Why it means success for everyone (co-sponsored with ABA’s Commission on Women in the Profession and other bar associations),the ABWA Annual Holiday Tea, and the ABWA Wine Tasting. In terms of community service, ABWA members volunteered to wrap Christmas presents with the Salvation Army’s Angel program, served as volunteers judges for the Urban Debate League, collected and donated school supplies for public school girls in Baltimore City, and participated in the Race for the Cure.  The ABWA scholarship program was brought back and a student from UB Law and UM Law each won a $500.00 scholarship for books etc. In addition, paid membership increased by 100%.

During the 2008-2009 bar year, the Alliance supported voter registration drives at various historically black colleges and universities within the State of Maryland, continued the tradition of the Annual Tea and, in conjunction, with Monumental hosted a panel discussion at the University of Maryland during Black History Month.

During the 2009-2010 year, the Alliance celebrated 30 years.  This milestone was commemorated at the historic Oakland Manor in Columbia, Maryland in September of 2009.   The theme of the event was “Celebrating 30 Years of Excellence” and we honored all of the African American female judges throughout the State of Maryland.  It was a well attended event and really kicked off our year of programs, community service, networking and fundraising activities.  The 2009-2010 focus of our organization was revival.  We wanted to revive the organization’s presence in the legal and the local community.  To that end, we held a number of events including the New Admittees Reception, a Panel Discussion on Alternative Careers, a Happy Hour at B and O American Brasserie Restaurant, our participation in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, our Annual Tea hosted by Judge Marcella Holland, the Baltimore Scholars Brunch, Black History Month Program with the Mayor’s Young Women In Action Mentoring Program, Happy Hour at Pazo, and the March of Dimes Walk.    Our Judicial Committee, chaired by Stephanie D. Kinder, Esq., also conducted judicial interviews for candidates interested in the Court of Special Appeals and the Circuit and District Courts for Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County and Anne Arundel County judgeships.  In addition, the Alliance showed its continued generosity by awarding a book scholarship to a deserving law student at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

During the 2010-2011 year, in addition to hosting our annual new admittees reception and annual holiday tea, the Alliance continued to provide seminars, social networking opportunities, and community service endeavors of interest to its membership. In an effort to continue to enhance the Alliance’s visibility within the legal community, as well as provide members with an opportunity to network with other legal organizations, throughout the year the Alliance partnered with various legal organizations to provide various programs.  As a result the Alliance co-sponsored a number of events including: “How to Become a Judge” seminars, panel discussion on “Practical Considerations for Starting Your Own Practice”, panel discussion on “Successful Lawyers Sharing Marketing Tips on Building the Bottom Line: Building a Law Practice in Real Estate or Trust & Estates Law”, and a seminar on “The Ins and Outs of State E-Filing”.  In addition, the Alliance provided its members with a career panel “From the Recruiters Perspective”, hosted the Baltimore Scholars Brunch, participated in community service endeavors with Young Women In Action, My Sister’s Place Women’s Center, participated in the American Cancer Society’s Breast Cancer Walk, and networked with members at happy hours and movie night at the Senator Theatre.  Our judicial committee, chaired by Monifa B. Coaxum, Esq., also conducted interviews for candidates interested in the Court of Special Appeals, Circuit Courts for Baltimore City and Prince George’s County judgeships.

During the 2011-2012 term, the Alliance hosted its annual New Admittees Reception, Career Panel, and Annual Tea hosted by Judge Videtta Brown. We continued our history of community service efforts by volunteering at My Sister’s Place, mentoring the young ladies of the Girls' Empowerment Mission and Patterson Park Public Charter through mock trial activities and career reflections. We also hosted our first Words of Wisdom Luncheon and were graced with the presence of several judges who imparted their wisdom and guidance. The Alliance sponsored a Financial and Estate Planning Workshop and hosted a reception for the Baltimore Scholars.

The Alliance also partnered with several organizations to host programming for its members. For instance, the Alliance collaborated with the Maryland Lawyer Chapter and the University of Maryland School of Law Student Chapter of the American Constitution Society to present a panel featuring leaders in favor of the “Civil Gideon” movement at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and in another instance, the Alliance, along with the Baltimore Women's Bar Association, celebrated Women’s Heritage Month by honoring some of the trailblazers in our organization’s history. We were proud to recognize Judge Evelyn Cannon, Judge Bonita Dancy, Judge Melanie Shaw Geter, Judge C. Yvonne Holt-Stone, Jeanne Hitchcock, Georgia Goslee, Donna L. Jacobs, Donna Hill Staton, Illona Sheffey Rawlings, and Shelia Durant as some of our organization’s trailblazers. The Alliance culminated the year with a Summer Cookout hosted by Judge Videtta Brown.

Our judicial committee, chaired by Alicia L. Wilson and Johnine N. Clark conducted over fifty judicial interviews of candidates for the District Court for Prince George’s County, The Court of Special Appeals, and the Court of Appeals.

We are proud of our past and look forward to continued years of successful and meaningful endeavors.

Our history requires it our legacy demands it.