President's Message - February 2024
“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
— Audre Lourde
WLALA President 2023-2024
As we enter Black History Month, WLALA is honored to pay tribute to our members who dare to be powerful, including Consumers Association of Los Angeles (“CAALA”) President Ibiere Seck and LMU Loyola Law School (“LLS”) Dean Brietta Clark (currently serving as Interim Dean, with the permanent appointment as the next Fritz B. Burns Dean to take effect June 2024).
For many women, our ascension to leadership is plagued with self-doubt. Internal questioning of “will I fit in” and “can I do a good job” is frequently exacerbated for women of color, especially in corporate workplaces that may cultivate systemic racism, classism, xenophobia, and other biases. These feelings, often labeled as “Imposter Syndrome”, are loosely identified by doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud.
Greer Bosworth, WLALA’s first Black president, encourages our members to recognize that they are never less than and that moments of discomfort, uncertainty and second-guessing do not create an imposter. Dominique Shelton-Leipzig, who followed in Greer’s footsteps as WLALA’s second Black president advises that “imposter syndrome is a debilitating and terrible label imposed on real-life accomplished professionals and we need to reject it. If you are reading this newsletter you have already surpassed numerous hurdles, making you stronger and more qualified than if your talents were just embraced. Own your value and know you belong. You are an imposter of nothing.” In this same vein, President Seck reinforced the significance of the role model she sets as the first Black woman to lead CAALA and calls on us all to, “Be who you are, show who you are, so others can be who, what and where you are.”
Although Dean Clark did not have the benefit of seeing herself in LLS leadership, she is cognizant of the impact she has on future students as the first Black woman to lead LLS in the University’s 103-year history. In a recent CBS interview she remarked, “I do hope the fact of my existence will help show someone, ‘Oh, actually. I can get that far. That looks like me. I can see myself there.’”
The courage of these women to rise to leadership despite the absence of role models who look like them, is an act of service that brings life to the timeless words of Audre Lorde. As we honor our members who are the “first” of many, we encourage you to acknowledge your worth, applaud your accomplishments, and move forward with swagger.
In your service,
President, Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles