On September 15-16, 2017, nearly 30 LCLD Pathfinder Alumni gathered at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center in Washington, D.C. for the first annual LCLD Pathfinder Alumni Meeting.
A group of Microsoft Pathfinders planted the seed for this event when they got together for lunch one day in March. Partly inspired by Microsoft Fellows who were planning the Fellows Alumni Leadership Symposium in June, these Pathfinders decided that the time had come to form an alumni network of their own to keep in touch and grow their relationships. Over lunch, they messaged other 2016 Pathfinders on GroupMe and asked if they were interested in a reunion. The reponse was enthusiastic, and the official planning began.
Suhail Khan, Director of External Affairs
at Microsoft’s Washington, D.C. office.
(Photos by Jessica Sabesan)
When the meeting started on September 15, Pathfinder Alumni were welcomed by Suhail Khan (left), Director of External Affairs at Microsoft’s Washington, D.C. office, and Walt Lohmann, Special Projects Coordinator at LCLD and Of Counsel at Kirkland & Ellis LLP.
Pathfinder Alumni also heard from a range of industry leaders. Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland’s 8th Congressional District spoke about his support for an open, diverse United States and the current politics around the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Then the Pathfinders had a candid and lively Fireside Chat with Victoria Espinel (photo below), President and CEO of the Business Software Alliance, who was interviewed by Andrea Grieco, a 2015 Microsoft Pathfinder. Espinel described the roadblocks and challenges she overcame in her career. She advised the Pathfinders to be optimistic, push themselves outside of their comfort zones, and play to their strengths. She also recommended that Pathfinders combat “imposter syndrome” by researching and preparing thoroughly for the roles they take on.
Stan Pierre-Louis (photo below, at right), Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the Entertainment Software Association, also spoke candidly to the Pathfinders about transitions in his career and the lessons learned. He advised Pathfinders to be open to opportunities to pivot and fulfill needs within their organizations, to cultivate both personal and professional networks, and to develop self-awareness and a “personal board of directors” to help guide their careers.
Andrea Grieco, 2015 Microsoft Pathfinder (left), interviews Victoria Espinel, CEO of the Business Software Alliance.
There were also two opportunities for Pathfinder Alumni to obtain Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits at the meeting, facilitated by Mayer Brown LLP. Both involved Supreme Court cases that have impacted diversity and inclusion. One, devoted to Trademark Disparagement, was presented by Jeffrey Lopez, Attorney and Adjunct Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center. The other CLE session, which covered Gerrymandering and Election Law, was presented by Marc Elias, Partner and Firmwide Chair of Political Law Practice at Perkins Coie LLP.
In addition to the substantive sessions, the Pathfinder Alumni spent time networking during a luncheon, dine-around dinners, and a happy hour sponsored by Nixon Peabody LLP. At the Nixon Peabody reception, Pathfinders were welcomed by Colette Dafoe, Managing Partner of the Washington, D.C. office, and Jeffrey Costellia, Partner and Chair of the firm’s Global Strategies Committee.
By organizing the first LCLD Pathfinder Alumni Meeting, the planning committee set out to build a greater sense of community among Pathfinders, share insights on career development, and gain feedback on the Pathfinder experience and how to maximize the program’s benefits going forward.
Diana Huang, 2016 Crowell & Moring Pathfinder, chats with Stan Pierre-Louis, Senior VP and General
Counsel of the Entertainment Software Association.
“I have a hard time choosing a favorite part of the meeting,” said Hana Vizcarra (2017 Pathfinder). “It provided a welcome opportunity to interact with Pathfinders from different years while providing engaging and interesting programming. It was the right mix of directed conversation with the speakers, and informal networking and discussion amongst ourselves.”
“The planning committee did a great job of putting together content and a program without having a prior Pathfinder Alumni Meeting as a guide,” said Jesse Nevarez (2016 Pathfinder). “With each speaker’s story, I felt glued to the content and the advice they gave us.”
“It was a tremendous opportunity to meet such a talented and diverse group during my Pathfinder year, and it was exciting to meet again as a group,” said Aneesh Mehta (2016 Microsoft Pathfinder). “For many of us, the meeting exceeded our expectations.”
“I’m already looking forward to the next one!” Nevarez added.
During a feedback session at the Pathfinder Alumni Meeting, attendees brainstormed ways to stay connected after the meeting. They identified a committee of Pathfinders to plan next year’s Pathfinder Alumni Meeting, as well as a committee to coordinate regional Pathfinder events in Arkansas, Chicago, Georgia, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Texas, and Washington, D.C.
LCLD would like to thank the following Pathfinders for planning the inaugural LCLD Pathfinder Alumni Meeting: Cody Gillians, Andrea Grieco, Diana Huang, Hanna Kim, Azar Koulibaly, Aneesh Mehta, Makalika Naholowaa, and Casiya Thaniel. We also thank everyone at Microsoft, Nixon Peabody LLP, and Mayer Brown LLP who made this event possible.
Jessica Sabesan is the Communications & Marketing Manager at LCLD.
Photography by Jessica Sabesan and Hanna Kim