DLA Piper Diversity & Inclusion

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DLA Piper launches Forward Thinking education seminar series in Chicago
27 Mar 2017
Region: Americas

DLA Piper launches Forward Thinking education seminar series in Chicago

DLA Piper announced today that the firm has launched Forward Thinking, a new education seminar series in Chicago dedicated to leadership topics for today’s business leaders and corporate counsel.

The first Forward Thinking seminar, Executive Presence, took place on February 28, 2017, in DLA Piper's new Chicago office. The seminar included a networking reception and an interactive presentation by Chris DeSantis, an independent business consultant.

DeSantis took participants through an interactive session demonstrating the key pillars of Executive Presence – appearance, communication and gravitas, with an emphasis on authenticity.  Participants had an opportunity to practice techniques they learned and obtain insightful on-the-spot feedback.

Forward Thinking is a part of DLA Piper's Forward initiative, which was launched in May 2016 as an effort to accelerate the advancement of diverse corporate counsel and other business professionals in the Chicago area. Members of Forward include more than 100 diverse corporate counsel, business professionals and allies committed to fostering a dynamic and diverse legal and business community.

"There is a growing consensus among lawyers in law firms and corporations that while the Chicago legal community has made great strides to support diversity, much work still needs to be done," said Raja Gaddipati, a DLA Piper partner and chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee in the Chicago office. "We're proud of Forward and the launch of the Forward Thinking seminar series; the feedback that we received was overwhelmingly positive and we have received calls for more seminars."

Future seminars will cover topics including people and team management, finance and accounting and corporate governance.

Forward provides members with a variety of networking and professional development opportunities, including networking receptions, strategic connections and continuing legal education. The initiative also offers access to DLA Piper's global resources and opportunities to become involved in pro bono projects throughout the Chicago area.

Gaddipati leads the Forward initiative, which has a Steering Committee that includes Chicago Managing Partner David Mendelsohn, associate Nikeisha Gentles, of counsel Ferlillia Roberson, Diversity and Inclusion Director Genhi Givings Bailey, and Client Development Executive Tasha Brown.

All programming for the initiative is overseen by an advisory committee comprised of the following: 

  • Luis Avila, Associate General Counsel, US Foods
  • Alfreda Bradley-Coar, Chief Commercial Counsel, GE
  • Jason Brown, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, Dyson
  • Rudy Figueroa, Vice President Administration, Human Resources & Legal, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Mitsui Rail Capital
  • Melvin Flowers, Director of Legal Services, Accenture
  • Kelly McNamara-Corley, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Discover Financial Services, Inc.
  • Jacqueline White, Associate General and Assistant Secretary, Illinois Tool Works

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