19th Annual Sylvania Woods Conference Celebrates African Americans in Law

On Thursday, April 9, the American University Washington College of Law community celebrated the 19th Annual Sylvania Woods Conference. The conference, named after the late Judge Sylvania Woods ’60, one of the first African Americans to graduate from the law school, focused on the status of African Americans in the legal profession answering the question: “Are we there yet?”

The conference panel moderated by Midwin Charles ’99 consisted of lawyers, educators, judges, and a current AUWCL student discussing African Americans in the legal arena and recommendations on improving their progress in the field. The Honorable Reggie Walton ’76 shared the steps to becoming a judge, highlighting that you have to be a risk-taker to succeed. Benjamin F. Wilson, Managing Principal of Beveridge & Diamond discussed the retention rate of African American lawyers and what could be done to increase participation. The panel also included Shawna Wilson ’00, deputy director, Bureau of Counterterrorism, U.S. Department of State; Collins Byrd, assistant dean for admissions at Iowa Law; Okianer Christian Dark, professor of law at Howard University School of Law; Myra Wilder ’07, senior manager, human resources compliance Marriott International; and Kaine Hampton ’15.

The evening concluded with an awards and recognition dinner honoring individuals for their exceptional work as African Americans in the legal profession. The North Star Award was presented to The Honorable Zuberi Williams ’03, one of the youngest judges in Montgomery County, Maryland. Kimberly S. LeBlanc, Esq. ’07, associate at Eckert Seamans, received the Hairston Alumni Award for her continued support of the AUWCL community. The Black Law Student Association awarded the Rising Star Award to upcoming graduate Kaine Hampton ’15.

See photos from the event.