A new standing committee will work to develop and promote strategies and best practices for the State Bar of Texas in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The board of directors voted June 8 to create the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and asked 2022-2023 State Bar President Laura Gibson to submit a roster of proposed committee members for approval at the board’s next scheduled meeting on September 30.
The committee will identify opportunities within the State Bar to create an environment conducive to diversity, equity, and inclusion; assist in the creation of measurable goals; and periodically report on progress toward achieving the goals set by the board of directors, according to the resolution creating the committee.
The committee grew out of 2021-2022 President Sylvia Borunda Firth’s Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, said director Adam T. Schramek, the outgoing chair of the board’s Policy Manual Subcommittee, which brought the resolution to the board. The committee “will continue the work of the task force—the very important work that was started,” he said.
The 15-member committee will include a representative from each of the following State Bar standing committees and sections: Disability Rights and Issues Committee, Diversity in the Profession Committee, Women in the Profession Committee, African American Lawyers Section, Asian Pacific Interest Section, Hispanic Issues Section, LGBT Law Section, Native American Law Section, and Women and the Law Section.
The board also voted to continue the Building Planning Special Committee for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. The board created the committee in September 2021 to advise the State Bar on decisions related to remodeling, repairs, and uses of the bar’s building and property at 1415 Lavaca St. in Austin.
Granbury family law attorney Cindy V. Tisdale was sworn in as president-elect during the board’s June 9 meeting. Chad Baruch, a Dallas civil appellate lawyer, succeeded Santos Vargas as chair of the board.
Texas Supreme Court Justice Debra Lehrmann administered the oath to new officers, directors, section representatives, and liaisons to the board.
Borunda Firth presented presidential citations to Roland and Cindy Johnson, of Fort Worth, for their work facilitating the LeadershipSBOT program and to Punam Kaji, of Dallas, for her service on the Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. She also presented a presidential commendation in honor of 1978-1979 State Bar President Cullen Smith Jr., who died on April 16 at the age of 96.
Vargas, the outgoing board chair, presented the Public Member Award to director G. Michael Vasquez, of Austin, and the Outstanding Third-Year Director Award to Andrés E. Almanzán, of El Paso, and Adam T. Schramek, of Austin.
State Bar Executive Director Trey Apffel presented a Staff Excellence Award to Virginia Izaguirre, the director of program planning for TexasBarCLE.