Join us for this virtual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion conference to hear from leaders in the civil legal aid community and beyond as we center race in the work that we do in the poverty and social justice space. This conference is part two of the conference series, which started in May at the MCLE Annual Legal Services Conference, focusing on lessons that lead to action and sustainable long term change–It’s Time!

This free conference is open to all – non-attorneys, attorneys, and staff working outside of legal aid offices are invited to attend.

Educational sessions from
10:00 AM – 2:45 PM,
July 20 – 22, 2021

Virtual & Free To All

10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Live via Zoom Webinar

Opening Keynote with Kimberly Jones, Activist & Author


12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Networking Lunch with Kimberly Jones

1:15 PM – 2:45 PM
Live via Zoom Meetings

Afternoon Workshops

Empowering Attorneys of Color through Shriver’s Racial Justice Institute

  • Mario Noe Paredes (he/him/his) Staff Attorney/Bart J. Gordon Fellow, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Mario Paredes
  • LaToya Whiteside (she/her/hers) Staff Attorney, Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts
LaToya Whiteside

Learning from One Another: Health Law Advocates’ DEI Journey

Join the Health Law Advocates (HLA) staff to learn about their process in developing and implementing a DEI Committee whose mission is to step fully into the job of advancing equity at the individual, organizational, and systemic levels. Attendees will also have the opportunity to engage in a facilitated discussion that will aim to guide organizations as they begin their own DEI journeys.

  • Mara Shulman (she/her/hers) – Supervising Attorney, Health Law Advocates
Mara Shulman
  • Victoria Francois (she/her/hers) Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Intern, Health Law Advocates
Victoria Francois
  • Kara Hurvitz (she/they) Staff Attorney, Health Law Advocates
Kara Hurvitz
  • Alexandra Warren (she/her/hers) Equal Justice Works Fellow, Health Law Advocates
Alexandra Warren

Program Note: All Zoom Meetings have a capacity limit of 100 people. We apologize in advance if you are unable to attend a session due to high attendance rates. All sessions are being recorded and will be available to view later.

9:00 AM – 9:45 AM
Live via Zoom Webinar

Yoga “Wake Up”

Led by Rachael Junard (she/they)


10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Live via Zoom Webinar

Morning Workshops

The Evolving Role of Legal Aid in Addressing Systemic Racism

Tackling inequity by focusing on poverty law is not the same as setting out to dismantle systemic racism. And as the nation begins a long overdue conversation about the ways in which race impacts access to opportunity and justice, so must legal aid make more explicit its role in the fight to address the racial dimension of poverty. Join us as we begin a conversation about the intersection of race and poverty and why race equity focused advocacy is both a calling and imperative.

  • Kimberly Merchant (she/her/hers) – Racial Justice Institute Director, Shriver Center on Poverty Law
Kimberly Merchant
  • Merf Ehman (no pronouns or they/them) Executive Director, Columbia Legal Services
Merf Ehman

Closer to Freedom: Envisioning a World Where Black Women Aren’t Seen as Angry and UnWhole

This workshops seeks to examine the intersections of race, class, and gender and how racialized tropes have not only manifested but are perpetuated and continue to impact Black women survivors and advocates alike; through dynamic and interactive discourse we will explore strategies that will shift power toward collective liberation in the workplace and for survivors who seek justice; and will critique the ways in which advocacy becomes performative when staff of color, specifically Black women, experience inequity and micro-aggressions in the workplace and other “safe spaces.”

  • Ayana Wallace (she/her/hers) Training Specialist, Ujima, Inc

12:00 PM – 12:30 PM


Lunch with Ayana Wallace

Lunch with Merf Ehman and Kimberly Merchant

1:15 PM – 2:45 PM
Live via Zoom Meetings

Afternoon Workshop

Tens Across the Board: How Boston’s Ballroom Community became a launchpad for trans, BIPOC LGBTQ liberation

This workshop is a unique opportunity to engage in purposeful dialogue that discerns specific barriers and challenges to engaging trans, BIPOC LGBTQ individuals, develop corresponding strategies to overcome them, and set actionable priorities to be used in the implementation of regional and national education campaigns for Ball communities.

  • Athena Vaughn (she/her/hers) Trans Activist, Trans Resistance MA
Athena Vaughn
  • Sasha Goodfriend (she/her/hers) Social Justice Community Organizer, Trans Resistance MA
Sasha Goodfriend

Program Note: All Zoom Meetings have a capacity limit of 100 people. We apologize in advance if you are unable to attend a session due to high attendance rates. All sessions are being recorded and will be available to view later.

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Live via Zoom Webinar


Gilly Segal

11:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Live via Zoom Webinar


African Drums and Dance
with Joh Camara from Mali, West Africa

Led by Joh Camara (he/him)

African drums and dance

12:00 PM – 12:30 PM


1:15 PM – 2:45 PM
Live via Zoom Meetings

Afternoon Workshops

It’s Time–Pushing the Envelope: Centering Racial Justice in Civil Legal Aid Advocacy

Join us to hear from two organizations that have intentionally incorporated racial justice into their work, resulting in impactful community engagement. Walk away with practical tips that you can use.

  • Moderator: Waeyonnoh Nelson-Davies (she/her/hers)Senior Managing Attorney, Community Legal Aid (CLA)
Weayonnoh Nelson-Davies
  • Janet Chung (she/her/hers) – Advocacy Director, Columbia Legal Services
Janet Chung
  • Robbie McEwen (he/him/his) – Legal Director, Nebraska Appleseed
Robert McEwen

It’s Time: Legal Aid post George Floyd and Breonna Taylor –expanding our perspectives and service delivery models

Join Pat Swansey and Bithiah Carter in a dynamic discussion about the post-pandemic legal aid climate and the opportunities to center Black and Brown people in advocacy and expand funding models.

  • Bithiah Carter (she/her/hers) – President & CEO, New England Blacks in Philanthropy
Bithiah Carter
  • Patricia Swansey (she/her/hers) – Director of Program Monitoring and Evaluation, Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corp
Patricia Swansey

Dismantling the Dominant Culture: Unlearning Our Organizational Survival Strategies

This workshop will engage participants in a multi-level analysis of how white dominant culture is upheld through organizational and individual values, assumptions, and practices. Participants will explore a developmental trajectory, challenges and opportunities to expand their organizational and individual capacity for anti-racist organizational alignment.

  • Ailiana Denis (she/her/hers) Founder & Managing Director, Axia Amplified
Ailiana Denis

Creating Anti-Racist Employment Practices: Recruiting and Retaining Diverse Candidates in Civil Legal Services

This workshop is designed to help legal services non-profits design a recruitment and retention plan to attract and keep a diverse workforce. The workshop will be interactive and is aimed for HR leaders, legal services staff and others charged with attracting, recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce in their organization.

Program Note: This workshop is reserved for leaders at MLAC grantee organizations through a sign-up process. Please contact Tonysha Taylor at to sign up.

  • Susan Chase (she/her/ella) – Founder & Principal, Amistad Consulting Group
Susan Chase
  • Jasmina Chuck (she/they) – Amistad Consulting Group
Jasmina Chuck
  • Bharati Narumanchi (she/her/hers) – Amistad Consulting Group
Bharati Narumanchi.tif

3:00 PM – 3:45 PM
Live via Zoom Webinar

Networking and Drink Demo with Dani (she/her/hers)

Drink Demo Updated


– Tools Needed: Shaker or stirrer. 

– Glass Options: Champagne glass, flute or goblet or “collins” glass

French 75                                                                                         French 75 “Mocktail”

– 2 oz of cognac, gin, or brandy (or spirit of your choice)        – 2 oz lemon juice
– 1 oz lemon juice                                                                           – 2 oz Simple Syrup
– 3/4 oz Simple Syrup                                                                    – Sparkling water
– Sparkling wine                                                                              – San Pellegrino Limonata Soda
– Lemon twists                                                                                – Lemon twists
– Ice                                                                                                   – Ice

4:00 PM – 4:45 PM
Live via Zoom Webinar

“Wind-Down” Yoga

Led by Rachael Junard (she/they)


Supported by the Boston Bar Association & Boston Bar Foundation

This collaboration is supported by the Boston Bar Foundation Beacon Fund for Diversity & Inclusion. The Beacon Fund was established by EMC Corporation in 2016 and is dedicated to supporting the diversity, equity and inclusion projects of the Boston Bar Association.

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