The 2023 Fellows pose for their class photo. (All photos by Cali Gabriel)

SAN DIEGO, CA — In March 2023, hundreds of LCLD Pathfinders and Fellows descended upon San Diego for the first cohort meetings of the 2023 program year. Little did participants know that while they were engaged in professional development, leadership training, and relationship building, they were also making LCLD history.

The meetings, which ran from March 15-17 for Pathfinders, and March 16-18 for Fellows, saw the largest number of LCLD event attendees to date. More than 800 people attended—a record 420 Pathfinders and 408 Fellows—and the energy was palpable from start to finish. 

The Pathfinder Spring Meeting kicked off with a welcome reception at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina on Wednesday evening, giving the newest cohort an opportunity to network casually and absorb words of wisdom from LCLD President Robert Grey. Programming began the next day with a full-group session on leveraging the TypeCoach self-assessment tool to enhance leadership and communication skills, led by Carrie Fletcher, Harvard Law School Executive Education Affiliate Instructor. 

The cohort split into two breakout groups for the afternoon, taking turns engaging with speakers in a more intimate setting. Each group spent time with Neha Sampat, CEO and Founder of BelongLab, for a discussion on imposter syndrome, and talked confident communication with Leadership Communication Coach David Henderson.

“From learning about my default communication preferences to truly understanding imposter syndrome, attending this meeting… added value to my leadership development,” said 2023 Pathfinder Danielle Hines of Southern Company. “I left feeling refreshed and empowered to use the tools I learned in my place of work.” 

Meanwhile, the Fellows Spring Meeting opened on Thursday afternoon with a dynamic full-group session led by Tasneem Khokha, Managing Director of GrowthPlay. This action-oriented workshop focused on using the five stages of design thinking to tackle complex problems. Then, building on the tools learned in the first session, Fellows Program Director Nichole Velasquez led Fellows in small-group exercises with their Accountability Partner Groups. These groups of 9-10 Fellows will meet throughout the year, making this first meeting a strong foundation for thoughtful interactions to come. 

Once Thursday’s sessions ended, the fellowship continued into the evening at a joint reception aboard the USS Midway Museum. Complete with behind-the-scenes docent tours, exhilarating flight simulators, live t-shirt printing, skyline views, and a stunning sunset, both Fellows and Pathfinders experienced an event that was one for the books. 

The Pathfinder Spring Meeting wrapped up with two full-group sessions on Friday. John Mitchell, “The Purple Coach” and Owner of KM Advisors, built upon the previous day’s TypeCoach session and dug deeper into navigating career progression and overcoming obstacles. Tasneem Khokha, Managing Director of GrowthPlay, closed out the meeting with a powerful session on advancing in your career with authenticity and confidence. 

For the Fellows, Friday brought a full day of programming, starting with their turn at alternating breakout groups. Half of the Fellows began their day engaging in an animated discussion on executive presence with Holly Amaya, co-founder of Story Imprinting, while the other half candidly explored allyship with Diego Carvajal, DEI Educator and Consultant with VallotKarp Consulting. The groups broke for lunch before switching speakers.  

With energy levels high, Fellows came together as a full group and Paula T. Edgar, CEO of PGE Consulting Group, wrapped up the day’s programming with a spirited session on personal branding. But the class camaraderie didn’t end there—Fellows broke bread together in small groups at various San Diego restaurants during the evening’s Dine-Arounds, a much-loved Fellows tradition.  

On Saturday, Mary E. Abbajay, President and Founder of the Careerstone Group, closed out the meeting with a highly interactive session on managing up that equipped Fellows with practical advice and tangible strategies for working with supervisors and managing their own professional success.  

For many Fellows, the meeting’s impact will endure beyond San Diego: “When I showed up to the 2023 LCLD Fellows Meeting, I expected to learn one or two useful bits of information and perhaps meet a new acquaintance or two,” shared 2023 Fellow Mike Binns of Meta. “Instead, I experienced thoughtfully curated workshops about brand building, design thinking, and allyship that transformed the way I viewed my legal career.” 


Throughout and after the meetings, Fellows and Pathfinders shared their experiences and photos across social media (excerpts below). Follow LCLD on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook for more posts and news from our community, as well as thought leadership, resources, and updates. 

"I had the immense pleasure to represent Abbott at the 2023 Leadership Council on Legal Diversity's Fellows Spring Meeting. The conference was a whirlwind of incredible content, rich conversation, and excellent company. Over 3 long days and 2 very short nights, fellow attendees became friends as we listened, laughed, and learned from one another, furthering our commitment to equity, inclusion, and belonging in our professional spaces.” —Aminah Bhatti, 2023 Fellow

“I am a Palestinian Muslim American Attorney. Being a part of the LCLD Pathfinder Program reminded me of a critical point. Our employers hire us in our entirety. They hire our stories. They hire our familial journeys. We enrich their organizations and serve our clients by working, contributing and performing with our full identities. I look forward to continuing my work as a Pathfinder, and I remain incredibly grateful to Robins Kaplan for their support.” Waleed Abbasi, 2023 Pathfinder

"Honored and humbled to have been selected as NBCUniversal's representative at the 2023 Leadership Council on Legal Diversity's Fellows program. This past weekend's Spring conferences exceeded all of my expectations with thoughtful programming..., amazing activities, and - of course - the opportunity to get to know so many diverse legal leaders from across the country."Jeffrey Ung, 2023 Fellow

"Still on cloud nine from three days of connecting with, and learning from, over 800 diverse leaders from law firms and major corporations across the country. Thank you LCLD for creating this space to focus on diversity, leadership, action, and results.”Lakeisha Andress, 2023 Pathfinder