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2013 July

31 Jul


Winners of the “2013 Nation’s Best Advocates: 40 Lawyers Under 40” Honored at National Bar Association Jazz Brunch

July 31, 2013 | By |


WASHINGTON, D.C. –  IMPACT and the National Bar Association (NBA) honored the “Nation’s Best Advocates: 40 Lawyers Under 40” at a special awards gala on Saturday, July 27, 2013 during NBA’s 88th Annual Convention in Miami, Florida.

Nation’s Best Advocates recognizes talented individuals (age 40 and under) within the African American legal community who have achieved prominence and distinction, professionally and philanthropically. Selected nominees represent a cross-section of legal professionals: solo practitioners, government lawyers, judges, academicians, corporate counsels, young elected officials, and other lawyers using their degree in innovative ways. Nominees were chosen based on their achievement, innovation, vision, leadership, and legal community involvement.

“The NBA is proud to partner again with IMPACT for this year’s 40 Lawyers Under 40 event. We applaud the awardees for their significant accomplishments and contributions towards the legal profession and community,” said John Page, NBA President.  “We look forward to honoring these awardees during our 88th Annual Convention in Miami and most importantly, we look forward to sustaining our mission of service and ensuring that justice is achieved by all.”

“The 2013 Nation’s Best Advocates: 40 Lawyers Under 40 are continuing the tradition of legal giants in American history,” said IMPACT Director Angela Rye. “The invaluable contributions made by these attorneys establish a standard for service and excellence in our communities and our Nation.”

The recipients of the Nation’s Best Advocate of the Year, Excellence in Leadership, Service, Activism, and Innovation awards will be recognized at the event, which is the only of its kind. For more information, visit:

The winners included:

2013 Nation’s Best Advocates: 40 Lawyers Under 40

  • Barbara J. Walker, Associate, Parks & Crump, LLC
  • Breon C.M. Walker, Partner, Gallivan, White & Boyd, PA.
  • Candice S. Petty, Corporate Counsel, 24 Hour Fitness USA, Inc.
  • Carlos Leach, Partner, Morgan and Morgan, PA
  • Cassandra Georges, Mediator & Arbitrator, Above and Beyond Dispute Resolution, LLC
  • Chigozie Onyema, Policy Analyst, Council of State Governments Justice Center
  • Craig A. A. Dixon, Assistant Vice President, Senior Counsel and Assistant Secretary, Smithfield Foods, Inc.
  • Dannelle F. Walker, General Counsel, Tennessee State Board of Education
  • Edward “Ted” James, II, State Representative, District 101, Louisiana House of Representatives
  • Ekumene M. Lysonge, Vice President, Legal Affairs, Churchill Downs Incorporated.
  • Evangeline M. Mitchell, Principal, Persistence of Vision LLC/Founder & Executive Director, National Black Pre-Law  Conference and Law Fair
  • Harmon “Monty” Cooper, Associate, Sedgwick, LLP
  • JaDawnya Butler, Chief Senior Assistant District Attorney, Fulton County, GA
  • JaRai A. Williams, Appellate Defense Counsel, United States Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps
  • Jasmine Rand, Associate, Parks and Crump, LLC
  • Justin Fairfax, Justin Fairfax for Virginia
  • Kristal Lauren High , Editor and Chief Politic365
  • Lacy L. Durham, Tax Manager, Deloitte Tax, LLP
  • LaKeisha C. Marsh, Associate Vice President and Counsel, TCS Education System
  • Lashonda Council Rogers, Managing Attorney, Council & Associates, LLC
  • Lynnette D. Espy-Williams, Partner, Cozen O’Connor
  • Malaika Clements Billups, Associate, Burke, Williams & Sorensen, LLP
  • Marie E. Giraud, Associate, Morrison Mahoney
  • Michelle N. Lipkowitz, Partner, Saul Ewing, LLP
  • Monica D. Barnes, Assistant City Attorney, City of Miami Gardens, FL
  • Monique Liburd, Associate Trademark Counsel, Google Inc.
  • Nichole Francis Reynolds, Chief of Staff, Congresswoman Terri Sewell
  • Nicole Isaac, Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, The White House
  • Radiance Harris, Associate, DLA Piper
  • Rashida MacMurray-Abdullah, Core Forensic & Dispute Services Manager, Deloitte Financial Advisory Services
  • Reginald Roberts, Jr., Co-Managing Partner, Sanders Roberts, LLP
  • Rhonda Peoples-Waters, President/CEO, Rhonda Peoples-Waters-PA
  • Shontavia Jackson Johnson, Owner, Johnson International Group, Assistant Professor of Law, Drake University Law School
  • Tanya Bullock, Judge, Virginia Beach Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court
  • Tara D. Elliott, Principal, Fish & Richardson, PC
  • Tashinda Glover Richardson, Legal Assistance Counsel and Special Assistant US Attorney, US Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps
  • Valyncia Simmons, Partner, Baker Williams Matthiesen LLP
  • W. Dewayne Richardson, District Attorney, Fourth Judicial District of Mississippi
  • Wade Hinton, City Attorney, City of Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Zulema Green, Regional Managing Attorney, Portfolio Recovery Associates


Additionally, IMPACT and the NBA honored five individuals with awards for Advocate of the Year, Excellence in Leadership, Activism, Innovation, and Service.


  1. Advocate of the Year: Barbara J. Walker
  2. Excellence in Leadership: Lynnette D. Espy-Williams
  3. Excellence in Activism: Jasmine Rand
  4. Excellence in Innovation: Monique Liburd
  5. Excellence in Service: Malaika Clements Billups

The National Bar Association was founded in 1925 and is the nation’s oldest and largest national network of predominantly African American attorneys and judges. It represents approximately 44,000 lawyers, judges, law professors and law students and has over 80 affiliate chapters throughout the United States and around the world. For additional information about the National Bar Association, visit

IMPACT (@teamIMPACT) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to engage and build a network of young professionals of color to foster civic engagement, increase knowledge of the political and legislative processes, and enhance economic empowerment opportunities. For additional information about IMPACT, visit


25 Jul


18 Jul


IMPACT Statement on Nelson Mandela International Day

July 18, 2013 | By |

– IMPACT released the following statement recognizing the fifth annual Nelson Mandela International Day:

“Today, IMPACT celebrates Nelson Mandela International Day by honoring Madiba’s life and service on his 95th birthday. We pay respect to Mr. Mandela’s 67 years of fighting for the rights of all people. We can all pay tribute to his legacy by working to achieve peace and reconciliation in our daily lives and with those in our communities.

“IMPACT joins our diasporan family in South Africa, and everyone around the world, in recognizing a hero and icon of our time. Thank you, Mr. Mandela, for continuing to speak truth to power.”


16 Jul


#NoJusticeNoSleep Events and Ideas

July 16, 2013 | By |

14 Jul


#NoJusticeNoSleep Conference Call

July 14, 2013 | By |

#NoJusticeNoSleep Update
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On July 13, 2013 a jury of six women reached a verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman. They found George Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old in Sanford, Florida. @TeamIMPACT and several community members, organizations, and partners responded immediately, launching the #NoJusticeNoSleep movement.

Thank you for your interest in ongoing efforts to mobilize for #JusticeforTrayvon and beyond. We continue to work for justice. Here’s how you can help:

#NoJusticeNoSleep Conference Call  

We held our third conference call last night at 10:00 PM EST. If you missed the call, the audio is posted here: #NoJusticeNoSleep Call with @teamIMPACT. Last night we discussed ways to mobilize and focus our action with the goal of #JusticeForTrayvon and all the other faceless and nameless young people that could have been Trayvon.

Trayvon Martin Foundation

Where were you on Saturday, July 13th at 9:59 p.m., when a six person jury in Sanford, Florida delivered a verdict of NOT GUILTY to the man who shot and killed Trayvon Benjamin Martin?  The verdict brought back painful memories; of Amadou Diallo and Yusef Hawkins, both shot dead while unarmed. It recalled Medgar Evers, shot dead in his driveway 50 years ago this June, and Emmett Till, whose open casket forced a nation to face the shame of lynching. Horrific moments in history that moved a nation to tears. The verdict reemphasized the need for change in our country. The need to take a serious look at race relations; the need to rethink our gun laws, and the need for fairness in our police departments and our courts.

At this moment, two loving parents are heartbroken. I personally join their efforts in not allowing the verdict to define Trayvon. They have turned their unbearable pain into advocacy, by establishing the Trayvon Martin Foundation. Its purpose: to advocate against gun violence, stand up for victims and their families, and to oppose all forms of racial profiling. I humbly ask that you join me in standing with this family now and forever. They need us. George Zimmerman amassed nearly $500,000 for his legal defense fund and the The Trayvon Martin Foundation raised just  $150,000. We should not be out-organized by the proponents of unfettered guns.  If you believe like I do, that we must stem the tide of gun violence and protect the families of victims, please donate today. Every dollar raised will symbolize that we are united in our efforts to create meaningful change.

Go to: and let’s never forget that Trayvon was all of our son.

~Michael Skolnik

Board Member, The Trayvon Martin Foundation


Stand Your Ground Law Repeal Petition

Join Team IMPACT in petitioning state legislators to review, repeal, and replace “Stand Your Ground” laws nationwide!

“On Saturday, July 13, 2013, a six-person jury in Sanford, Florida changed the world.  The murder trial against Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, garnered substantial international attention because of the facts of the case and the challenges it presented to race relations in America.

Florida’s Stand Your Ground law was immediately a point of discussion as the Sanford Police Department took more than 40 days to arrest and charge George Zimmerman with the murder of Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012.  Although George Zimmerman never asserted a Stand Your Ground defense, the policy influenced discussions on the matter (and even the jury instructions).

Stand Your Ground is not just a problem in Florida as it relates to Trayvon Martin. Also,  Jordan Davis  was shot to death in Duval County.  And there is  Marissa Alexander,  who  is currently serving a 20-year sentence for firing a warning shot to prevent yet another domestic violence incident with her husband.

As a result of Stand Your Ground in Florida, according to a Tampa Bay Times article, people who killed an African American walked free 73 percent of the time, while those who killed a Caucasian walked 59 percent of the time.   

A similar version of this bill to repeal the Stand Your Ground Law will be reintroduced when the Florida Legislature reconvenes: My Florida House Link/a>. Additionally,  state legislators in several states that have Stand Your Ground laws will also introduce legislation to repeal Stand Your Ground laws.  

Stand Your Ground Repeal

NAACP Petition 

Immediately following the verdict announcement  the NAACP launched a petition requesting that the Department of Justice file Civil Rights Charges against George Zimmerman. The petition has reached over 1 Million signatures. It is not too late to sign:

“Attorney General Eric Holder,

The Department of Justice has closely monitored the State of Florida’s prosecution of the case against George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin murder since it began. Today, with the acquittal of George Zimmerman, it is time for the Department of Justice to act.

The most fundamental of civil rights — the right to life — was violated the night George Zimmerman stalked and then took the life of Trayvon Martin. We ask that the Department of Justice file civil rights charges against Mr. Zimmerman for this egregious violation.

Please address the travesties of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin by acting today.” 

Sign NAACP Petition
National Action Network “Justice for Trayvon” National Day of Action VigilsJuly 20, 2013

12:00 PM

Federal Court Buildings


“Justice for Trayvon” National Day of Action Vigils in 100 Cities outside of Federal Court Buildings.

The vigils, taking place in 100 cities, will be a call to action pushing for federal charges against George Zimmerman leading up to the Saturday, August 24 March on Washington.

Share Your Events and Ideas We have created a justice forum, a place for you to share events and ideas for #NoJusticeNoSleep movement. Once submitted, your ideas can be voted on and shared with your network. 
Share Justice Events and Ideas
#NoJusticeNoSleep Twitter Town HallTuesday

July 23, 2013

1PM Eastern

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02 Jul


IMPACT Statement on the Passing of Former Congressman William H. Gray

July 2, 2013 | By |

WASHINGTON, DC – IMPACT released the following statement on the passing of former Majority Whip and Congressional Black Caucus Member William H. Gray:

“Today, we mourn the loss of former Rep. William (Bill) H. Gray (D-Pa.), the first African-American to chair the House Budget Committee and the first to serve as majority whip.

“A true leader and public servant, Rep. Gray represented the city of Philadelphia in the House of Representatives for six terms. He was also a trailblazer in the congressional fight for anti-apartheid sanctions on South Africa. He resigned from Congress in 1991 to serve as the president of the United Negro College Fund.

“Rep. Gray’s life and deeds serve as an example of political involvement, economic empowerment, and civic engagement. He was a dedicated advocate in every sense of the word.

“IMPACT is grateful for the tremendous example set by Rep. Gray, particularly in the way he shared his legacy with his children. His son, Justin, is a avid supporter of IMPACT’s mission and efforts and exemplifies his father’s lifelong commitment to justice for all.

“Our condolences and prayers go out to the family of former Rep. Bill Gray. He will be missed.”


02 Jul


IMPACT’s #VoteReady Report to be Unveiled at Esri International User Conference

July 2, 2013 | By |

African American voter access: Reduced opportunity for political inclusion

Marcus Coleman, Ph.D., IMPACT Research Fellow

San Diego, Calif. –  On Thursday, July 11, 2013, IMPACT Research Fellow Marcus J.Coleman, Ph.D. will present IMPACT’s 2012 Presidential Election Report titled, “African American Voter Access: Reduced Opportunity for Political Inclusion,” at the Esri International User Conference at the San Diego Convention Center in California.

As part of its #VoteReady campaign, IMPACT released its 2012 year-end report on the organization’s efforts to combat voter suppression and guarantee ballot access for young professionals of color during this past election cycle. With a national #VoteReady social media campaign, research fellow, and college/university participation, IMPACT was able to highlight voter disenfranchisement as well as voter access laws and how they affected African Americans during the 2012 Presidential Election Race.

IMPACT is proud to announce this report will be presented during the conference, which engages world governments, industry leaders, academics, and nongovernmental organizations. The findings in IMPACT’s report will be presented by Dr. Coleman via computer mediated communication at the Session: GIS in Elections in Room 24 A between 3:15- 4:30 p.m. on July 11, 2013.

Additionally, Esri will have an online discussion via Facebook and Twitter. As an organization, Esri inspires and enables people to positively impact the future through a deeper, geographic understanding of the changing world around them.

IMPACT (@teamIMPACT) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to engage and build a network of young professionals of color to foster civic engagement, increase knowledge of the political and legislative processes, and enhance economic empowerment opportunities. For additional information about IMPACT, visit


01 Jul


IL::Kat Calvin

July 1, 2013 | By |

IL - Kat Calvin


Congratulations to our July 2013 IMPACT Leader of the Month,  Kat Calvin!

Kat Calvin is a lawyer, writer and entrepreneur. She is the CEO and Founder of Blerdology, Michelle in Training, DC Young Entrepreneurs and LilyPad Consulting. With a focus on women, entrepreneurs and the black community, Kat’s work ranges from creating events for the black tech community around the country to educating high school girls in professional and life skills to training and consulting women and entrepreneurs in personal and business development for early stage ventures. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College and Michigan Law School, Kat is one of the 2013 The Grio’s 100, a Business Insider Top 30 Women Under 30 in Tech, and one of BET’s Blacks on the Brink of Greatness. She frequently speaks on entrepreneurship, innovation, and STEM. With a resume spanning four continents and numerous states, she lives in DC where she attends as many happy hours as possible and dreams about living out her days in a starship.


INTERVIEW | Getting to Know Kat Calvin


You are a serial social entrepreneur, what inspires you?

Goodness, what doesn’t inspire me? My grandmother and mother. My ancestors, on the worst days I remember that they survived and thrived in circumstances far worse than I’ll ever face. DC: Living in such a beautiful city reminds me everyday of how lucky I am. With a little more intelligence, strategy, and dedication, we really can build a strong economic base for the black community. My belief in that future, and in the very, very small part I may be able to play in it, keeps me going.


What is the key to balancing your professional, philanthropic and social commitments?

They’re all the same! Ha. JK. No, but really, they are. I love what I do and my whole life is about my work because my work is about everything I’m passionate about. So combining prof, phil and social isn’t hard. Everything I do is all three.


What is the biggest mistake young professionals make, especially when pursuing a new business venture?

Both moving too fast and not moving fast enough. Take your time to plan, grow slowly, and be sure of what you’re doing. But, at the same time, DON’T WAIT. Figure out your passions and jump!!


What advice would you give other young professionals who desire to diversify their skill sets and become marketable in the tech space, especially people of color?

There are a lot of great ways to get started. There are tons of free and inexpensive ways to learn tech skills and coding on Skillshare, Skillcrush, Codecademy and more. Also, volunteer. Learn a skill for free by finding a local non-profit that needs help and join a committee! And, of course, check out Blerdology for info on how to get started. =)


What’s been the best experience of your career thus far (or the most rewarding)?

Working with my girls in Michelle in Training is EVERYTHING. I used to teach first grade and the feeling of walking away from a group of kids and knowing that they can read a new word because of you, or that they understand a new concept, or that they have earned a sense of self-respect and history is worth every bit of hard work. I love my girls.


What’s next for you in your career? What should we look out for?

An ulcer probably. =P Haha, no. All I want to do is spend every day working harder to build up the black community, women and entrepreneurs. And hopefully I’ll make a very small living doing so. Enough for books and my Netflix subscription. As for things coming up, MiT is starting our second class of girls this fall! Blerdology is about to go on a summer tour around the country showcasing the amazing things happening with blacks in STEM. LilyPad is starting LilyPad University, a part-time incubator for women entrepreneurs. And one day I will take a vacation.


Lastly, give me three words to sum up Kat Calvin?

Joie de vivre.