David Kuhnz, Staff Attorney | Office of Communication, Education & Outreach
In July 2021, the Association for Continuing Legal Education presented its Award of Outstanding Achievement to the Indiana State Bar Association for Open Conversations: Racism and Racial Injustice, an ISBA program of dialogue and introspection about race and culture in the legal landscape. The program has heightened awareness within the legal community of racism and racial injustices, and has provided audiences with broader perspective and inspiration to stand for positive sustainable change.
The ISBA program launched in January 2021. Each month, Justice Steven David and attorney Angka Hinshaw (Marion County Public Defender Agency) have led frank discussions with featured panelists who shared their lived experiences and challenges with racism. The first discussion featured ISBA President Michael E. Tolbert and Chief Justice Loretta Rush, who discussed why she was moved to release a “Statement on Race and Equity” in June 2020.
Other topics discussed during the monthly Open Conversations series include Black women who have overcome racial barriers; racial issues related to higher education; and a candid conversation between the cohosts, Justice David and Ms. Hinshaw, about what they have learned throughout the ISBA program and their own personal journeys. To honor Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Open Conversations featured three Asian Americans who are trailblazers in the legal profession. Panelists included Mike Witte, retired Executive Director of the Indiana Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Commission and the first Asian American judge in Indiana; Judge Jacqueline Nguyen of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the first Asian American woman to serve on a federal court of appeals; and Sujata B. Chugh, an accomplished attorney at Mendrygal Law.
During the program in July, the audience gained insightful lessons from three prominent leaders in diversity, equity, and inclusion: Karrah Herring, J.D., Chief Equity, Inclusion & Opportunity Officer for the State of Indiana; Natalue Runyon, Director of Enterprise Content, Talent, Inclusiveness & Culture at Thomson Reuters; and Gina Forrest, Ph.D., M.P.H., Chief Diversity Officer for the Indiana Supreme Court, who used a math book as an analogy to explain the continuum of our own personal journeys in DEI.