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Robert J. Heller, Jonathan K. Winemiller, Thomas A. Thompson, Michael J. Costello, Patrick C. Cook, Kathleen Keenan Kindred
ment firms of varying size in Benton, Thurston, Pierce, Spokane, King, and Skagit counties. Our class included lawyers
with origins from England and Jamaica as well as lawyers
representing varying backgrounds of race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. These diverse interactions — sharing internal
challenges and working through them with my WLI fellows,
who often shared and understood my perspective but also offered a different one — enriched my understanding of unique
cultural identities, intersections, and views about difference in
the context of the legal practice and the broader community.
Another remarkable impact for me was the level of investment of the WLI faculty leaders and level of intimacy in their
presentations. Beyond course books and PowerPoint presentations, industry leaders shared personal stories and narratives, many of which dealt with issues that aren’t talked about
in law firms and offices. These issues are certainly not talked
about in law schools, such as how the language of race, sexual
orientation, or gender impacts your interactions or capacity
to succeed in the profession. It was really inspiring to hear
and learn from the ways in which they were able to overcome
those challenges and achieve leadership roles in their fields.
The WLI does more than just discuss promoting diversity in
our profession; the leadership program makes meaningful and
measurable progress on this vital issue. The WLI has also served
as a model for other bar associations, leading the way to the establishment of other leadership institutes across the country. N WL
RaShelle Davis is a policy advisor for Governor Jay
Inslee on education, civil rights, and social justice issues.
She serves on the WSBA Diversity Committee and the
WSBA Young Lawyers Committee. She can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Karen Denise Wilson has
been a deputy public defender with the Skagit County
Public Defender’s Office since 2006. Previously, she was
a civil rights analyst for the Seattle Office for Civil Rights.
Wilson was elected as an at-large governor to the WSBA
Board of Governors in 2013. She currently serves as the
co-chair of the WSBA Diversity Committee, a member
of the Budget and Audit Committee, and liaison to the
WSBA Council on Public Defense. Contact her at bog@