With the theme of “Reclaiming Our Image: The Power of Diversity in Leadership,” the Law Alumni of Color Association (LACA) celebrated an all-female lineup of awardees—formidable scholars, dealmakers, legal advisors, and leaders—at its 41st annual Spring Dinner on March 29.
“The LACA Spring Dinner Committee was deliberate in their decision to honor all women this year, particularly in light of #MeToo and other women empowerment movements happening in the world now,” said Kelley Spencer, associate director of alumni relations.
Before honoring the awardees, LACA recognized two late members of the NYU Law community. Current LACA President Rafiq Kalam Id-Din II ’00 held a moment of silence for Ellen Conley, who passed away on December 20, 2018. An activist and educator, Ellen Conley was the wife of Judge Charles Swinger Conley ’55 and an inductee into NYU’s Sir Harold Acton Society for her generosity to the university. In a video tribute, LACA celebrated the life of Professor Derrick Bell and his legacy as a scholar, teacher, and activist.
Law students Vedan Anthony-North ’21 and Joy Kim ’20 each received a Derrick Bell Scholarship for Public Service and Iboh Princess Umodu ’20 received the newly established Rasheed M. McWilliams Scholarship.
The President’s Distinguished Leadership Award was presented to NYU Law Professor Kim Taylor-Thompson, who previously served as a public defender and as the CEO of Duke Corporate Education. “We have a responsibility to make our presence matter, particularly today in the face of relentless efforts to silence our voices and to relegate our experience to the margins,” she said. “As leaders, we must fight back and we must remember our past. We must reclaim the narrative and we must reassert our voices because that is what our country needs, and that is what our community demands.”
Distinguished Alumnae Achievement Awards were presented to Lisa Marie Boykin’95, Kathryn King Sudol ’98, and Claudia Teran ’97.
Boykin, senior counsel for business and legal affairs at Netflix, won kudos for a career in entertainment law that has included positions at Paramount Pictures, the Walt Disney Company, PBS, and Warner Bros. Boykin emphasized the importance of self-confidence in achieving one’s dreams: “I want to encourage all of you, law students especially, to continue to follow your passion and follow your dreams and to pursue justice and to make a difference in this world as I know you will.”
Sudol, a partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett who regularly represents Blackstone, KKR, and Alibaba, was commended for her success in mergers and acquisitions and private equity law. She encouraged the audience to recognize the value of bringing talent and diversity to the workplace. “For those of you out there in the corporate world who are making outside counsel decisions, you need to remember that you truly have the power to impact diversity at law firms,” she said.
“Embrace the difference that you bring to the table. Don’t be afraid to speak your truth and don’t underestimate the power of your voice, because you never know where it’s going to get you,” said Teran, the executive vice president and general counsel for Fox Sports. Among her achievements, Teran was recognized for her role in Fox’s acquisition of the rights to the FIFA World Cup for 2018 and 2022.
The event concluded with a keynote address by US Representative Sharice Davids of Kansas’s third congressional district. Davids explained that she went into politics after being frustrated by politicians whose goals did not align with her community’s needs.
“Last year we saw a resetting of expectations across the entire country,” Davids said. “The 116th Congress has more women, more people of color, more people from diverse backgrounds, differences of economic statuses, members of the LGBTQ community.”
“We’re all part of diversity in leadership. We’re all part of reimagining and reclaiming our image, and that is amazing.”