"Once a Fellow, always a Fellow—that's our philosophy."
On paper, at least, the LCLD Fellows Program was supposed to last a year.
It was to be a busy year, of course, filled with professional challenges, skills workshops, in-person meetings, a menu of Learning Experiences and Leadership Lunches, and regional meetings both social and professional. The goal was to build relationships and leadership skills, and by all accounts it succeeded.
But when the program's pioneering Fellows, the Class of 2011, assembled for their final Meeting in the spring of 2012, it wasn't to say their goodbyes so much as to plan what came next. That turned out to be a powerhouse alumni organization, building on the momentum of their Fellowship year and extending it for the rest of their professional lives.
The result has been nothing less than extraordinary. With support from LCLD, the Fellows Alumni have taken ownership of the organization, now in its third year, and created a whole program, complete with bylaws and a governance structure, devoted to advancing the careers of diverse attorneys honored as LCLD Fellows.
"The Alumni program has grown organically, which has allowed us to shape it according to our needs," says Cassandra Headrick (below), a Partner at Dorsey & Whitney in Minneapolis who serves on the Alumni Executive Council. "We decided early on that 'Once a Fellow, always a Fellow' — a philosophy that allowed us to approach this like a university alumni association. That keeps the Fellows Alumni together even when we move on to new opportunities and new cities."
Since 2012 the Alumni have gone from zero to more than 300 participants, who engage at the regional level in both community service and as Mentors to the next class of Fellows, placing other young diverse attorneys from Member organizations on a path to leadership.
The skills and relationships they developed as Fellows are already beginning to make an impact on the profession, ranging from promotions within firms to even greater accomplishments. In the past few months, three Fellows Alumni, Michael-Bryant Hicks, Soham Naik, and Cyndie Chang have been named General Counsel or Managing Partner of their Member organizations. And another, Marta Chou, was appointed a District Court Judge in Minnesota's Fourth Judicial District.
Attached below is the 2013-14 Alumni Year in Review by Historian Annie Huang (2011 Fellow). For more information about the Fellows Alumni program, contact Courtney Nolde, Fellows Alumni Program Manager, or check the website for upcoming activities.
Photographs from the Third Annual LCLD Fellows Alumni Conference, held May 15-17, 2014 in Miami. Photos by Jay Haas.