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2021 Annual Conference

Updated: Aug 3, 2021

On July 22, 2021, the FBA, San Diego Chapter, held its 2021 Annual Conference, DIVERSITY TOOLKIT: A Roadmap for Enhancing Equity. The conference, an in-person event at the Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter, was attended by approximately 75 FBA members and other distinguished guests.

Chapter President Rebecca Church welcomed the attendees and presented a video titled “History of the Diversity in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of California.” This video is part of an ongoing project of the Chapter’s Historical Committee to document the legacy of diversity within the Southern District of California. The video presented at the Conference honored Judges Earl B. Gilliam, Judith N. Keep, and Irma E. Gonzalez (Ret.), all of whom were trailblazers in their respective appointments as the first African American, female, and Latina district judges appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. The video can be viewed here.

The conference continued with a presentation from Christy Cassisa, J.D., founder of The Institute for Mindful Works. Ms. Cassisa talked to participants about the benefits of practicing mindfulness, and walked conference attendees through a brief exercise in mindful meditation to focus them for the remainder of the conference.

Conference attendees then heard from two separate panels regarding tools for increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal community. The first panel featured a discussion between Hon. Allison H. Goddard, U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Southern District of California, and Patti Perez, Author of The Drama-Free Workplace, focusing on tools for younger employees and rising leaders to use their unique backgrounds to find commonality and express themselves in the workplace. The second panel, moderated by Chapter President Rebecca Church, and consisting of Chief U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw, Shireen Matthews, Diversity Committee & Hiring Partner at Jones Day, San Diego, and Tristan Higgins, Founder of Metaclusive, focused on tools for employers and leaders to increase diversity, equity and inclusion.

In addition to the panel discussions, conference attendees heard from Hon. Garry G. Haehnle of the San Diego County Superior Court, about the Superior Court’s brand new Judicial Mentorship Program. The Program is designed to assist potential judicial applicants in understanding the process for appointment to vacant seats and encourage the development of a well-qualified and diverse judicial applicant pool. The Superior Court’s news release and flyer regarding the program can be found under the Resources tab with the written materials for the annual conference and Judge Haehnle's presentation can be viewed here.

Professor Bertrall Ross
Professor Bertrall Ross

The conference concluded with a keynote address by Professor Bertrall Ross of the University of Virginia School of Law and member of President Biden’s Bipartisan Commission on the Supreme Court. Professor Ross discussed the historical relationship between the constitution and inequality, and how a diversity of life experiences among judges is critical to address inequality.

Following the formal conference, there was a reception during which Chapter President Rebecca Church presented its inaugural Chapter Awards including the Rising Attorney Award to Hannah Brown and the Distinguished Service Award to Morgan Suder.


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