The MLO Minute: “Juneteenth and Our Firm’s Continuing Education and In-Service Training to Address Issues of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion”
By Dennis McAndrews, Esq., Founder and Managing Partner Emeritus
During the entire history of our law firm over the past 40 years, our work on behalf of disabled individuals and vulnerable populations has been one core aspect of our practice. We have advocated tirelessly for the inclusion of individuals with disabilities into the full breath of community life, and have pursued justice for these individuals, and for all groups within our society to enjoy the equal opportunity which is their right under our legal system. In our work, we celebrate the diversity of our society and have been privileged to represent individuals from all walks of life, and members of every race, creed, and economic status. We have provided thousands of hours of free legal service to individuals who are unable to obtain legal representation, and are committed to the principles of inclusion, equal justice under the law, and respect for the diverse citizens of our country.
As part of our commitment to these principles, we have been privileged to welcome the insights of talented and experienced professionals who have come to our firm to discuss their personal journeys and professional lives which touch upon these principles. Very recently, we were fortunate to hear the life journey of Cyrise Dixon who was the first black female officer in the City of Chester and the first black female Detective in the Delaware County District Attorney’s office. Ms. Dixon has also served as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Delaware County which provides numerous grants to nonprofit organizations who are similarly committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. She spoke to us of her long personal and professional journey, the many obstacles she faced, the obstacles she overcame, and provided valuable insights regarding recognizing and addressing the implicit bias that can affect our perspectives and judgment in too many ways. Ms. Dixon’s presentation was particularly timely as it was so close to the national recognition of Juneteenth, the celebration of the announcement in Texas on June 19th, 1865, that enslaved Americans were free. Harvard historian Heather Cox Richardson today provided an excellent description of this important day which can be found by CLICKING HERE.
Earlier this year, we also welcomed Professor Shea Rhodes of the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, who is the Director and Cofounder of the Villanova Law Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation. In her work Prof. Rhodes has dealt with a great many marginalized and victimized individuals of every conceivable social, racial, and ethnic group, and provided us with her fascinating history and offered insights into best practices and approaches in assisting individuals who have suffered exploitation or marginalization and the best means to work collaboratively with them. Her long history of working with individuals who are in desperate need was both eye-opening and inspiring.
And recently, a number of members of our office attended an excellent session on these topics presented by the Pennsylvania Technical Training and Assistance Network, with a renowned national speaker who presented extraordinary insights in recognizing and properly addressing the needs of individuals who are underrepresented or excluded from critical aspects of our society, and in dealing with bias– both explicit and implicit– and inequality issues.
As our firm begins its 41st year of work in the fields of special education, estate planning/administration, injury matters, and Title IX representation we will continue to explore cutting edge and state-of-the-art programs and speakers to allow us to pursue a lifelong learning process on these important issues.