Join Us Thursday, November 17, 2022
6:00pm – 8:00pm (EST)


José Bahamonde-González
January 26, 1960 – May 15, 2022

José (Pepe) Bahamonde-González was born in Cuba, on January 26, 1960. After his first career as an auditor, he pursued a second career in the law. After graduating from Syracuse University College of Law in 1992, he turned to law school administration. Initially, working at the Georgetown University Law Center; he later served as an Assistant Dean at the University of Miami School of Law. For the last 20+ years, he worked at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law as Associate Dean for Administrative Affairs and Student Services and as Associate Dean for Professional Education.

In 2019, José embarked on a third career path – becoming the Chief Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Professional Development Officer at Miles & Stockbridge in Baltimore. In 2021, he joined Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton’s Washington, D.C. office as Senior Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Manager.

José always dedicated himself to be the best, most committed and dedicated leader and mentor. He worked with students, lawyers, professors, and administrators to increase opportunities, open doors, and build strong and lasting pipelines to improve diversity in the legal profession. During his career, he received numerous, well-deserved recognitions for his efforts. Despite all he accomplished, without a doubt, his greatest achievements were the relationships he developed and nourished, the love he gave, and the joy he inspired in others.


Sherrilyn Ifill

Sherrilyn Ifill is a civil rights lawyer and scholar. She most recently stepped down after 10 years in leadership as the President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), the nation’s premier civil rights law organization fighting for racial justice and equality. She currently serves as a Senior Fellow at the Ford Foundation.

Ifill began her career as a Fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union, before joining the staff of the LDF as an Assistant Counsel in 1988, where she litigated voting rights cases throughout the south, including the landmark case Houston Lawyers Assoc v. Texas, in which the Supreme Court held that judicial elections are covered by the provisions of the Voting Rights Act. In 1993 Ifill left LDF to join the faculty at University of Maryland School of Law in Baltimore. Over twenty years, Ifill taught civil procedure and constitutional law to thousands of law students, and pioneered a series of law clinics, including an environmental justice practice offering, a reparations theory and practice clinic, and one of the earliest law clinics in the country focused on challenging legal barriers to the reentry of ex-offenders. Ifill is also a prolific scholar who has published academic articles in leading law journals, and op-eds and commentaries in leading newspapers. Her 2008 book “On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century,” was highly acclaimed, and is credited with laying the foundation for contemporary conversations about lynching and reconciliation. A 10th anniversary edition of the book was recently released with a Foreword by Bryan Stevenson, the acclaimed lawyer and founder of the national lynching memorial in Montgomery, AL. She is currently writing a book to be published by Penguin Press in 2023 entitled “Is This America?”

Ifill appears regularly on national news programs, and her singular voice and analysis is frequently at the forefront during our nation’s most challenging racial crises. Ifill’s counsel is widely sought out by political leaders, community groups, and civil rights colleagues for her broad and deep strategic vision.

Ifill graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in English and earned her J.D. from New York University School of Law. She is the recipient of numerous honorary doctorates and was named by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the world in 2021. Ifill was appointed by President Biden to serve on the President’s Commission on the Supreme Court in 2021. She is a recipient of the Radcliffe Medal, and the American Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award. Next year Ifill will receive the Brandeis Medal


Hon. Letitia James

Letitia “Tish” James is the 67th Attorney General for the State of New York. With decades of work, she is an experienced attorney and public servant with a long record of accomplishments. She is the first woman of color to hold statewide office in New York and the first woman to be elected Attorney General.

In 2013, Ms. James was elected Public Advocate for the City of New York and became the first woman of color to hold citywide office. As Public Advocate, Ms. James served as a watchdog over New York City government agencies and as an advocate for the City’s most vulnerable communities. She transformed the Public Advocate’s office to be a formidable engine for change.

Her office handled over 32,000 constituent complaints and passed more legislation than all previous Public Advocates combined, including a groundbreaking law that banned questions about salary history from the employment process to address the pervasive gender wage gap. Ms. James successfully took on the gun industry by pushing New York City’s largest pension fund to divest from gun and ammunition retailers. She fought in court on behalf of children and families on issues including children in foster care, children with disabilities, and tenant protection. New Yorkers overwhelmingly elected Tish James to a second term as Public Advocate in November 2017.

Prior to serving as Public Advocate, Tish James represented the 35th Council District in Brooklyn in the New York City Council for ten years. As a Council Member, she passed the Safe Housing Act, legislation that forced landlords to improve living conditions for tenants in New York City’s worst buildings. She helped uncover the corruption behind the Office of Payroll Administration’s CityTime contract, a scheme that cost New York City over $600 million. She also pushed through a revolutionary recycling package that included expanding plastic recycling, a new clothing and textile recycling program, and increased access to recycling in public spaces.

Before her election to the City Council, Tish James served as head of the Brooklyn Regional Office of the New York State Attorney General’s Office. She resolved hundreds of consumer complaints and investigated predatory lenders who preyed on first-time homebuyers. She assisted the Civil Rights Bureau in its investigation of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy and cracked down on firms engaged in deceptive business practices including violations of human rights, environmental laws, and scams targeting immigrants.

Tish James began her career as a public defender at the Legal Aid Society. A proud Brooklynite, she is a graduate of Lehman College and Howard University School of Law.


Jean Lee

Jean Lee is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA), the preeminent advisor on diversity, equity, and inclusion to c-suites across corporate America. As an immigrant woman of color with a background in social work and corporate law, the professional has always been personal for Ms. Lee. A fierce advocate for her individual and institutional clients, she now champions systems-level change to create greater opportunities for those who, like her, are building careers in defiance of the status quo.

Ms. Lee brings an intersectional focus to her leadership of MCCA, where she has established a researched-based management consulting practice to help organizations develop sustainable diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategies; identified and promoted more than a dozen high potential talent for executive level positions in the c-suite; benchmarked the first-ever inclusion survey, which has been used as a framework for creating an inclusive culture; and established the first-ever comprehensive law firm diversity scorecard card measuring quantitative and qualitative data. She leverages her years of experience as a clinical social worker addressing some of the most complicated societal issues and as a litigator to serve as a solutions-oriented advisor focused on impact. As a result, MCCA is moving from being a thoughtful convener of people and ideas to a thought-leader and advisor on DEI issues in the workplace.

Ms. Lee is a sought-after conference speaker and a frequent commentator on diversity in the workplace and beyond. She has been recognized by numerous leading organizations as a change agent. The Council of Urban Professionals named her a 2014 Catalyst: Change Agent, and in 2015, she was recognized as a Trailblazer by the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York.

Ms. Lee holds a B.A. in Politics and Psychology and a M.S.W. in Social Work from New York University. She received her J.D. from Rutgers University School of Law, where she was a Senior Editor of the Rutgers Law Record. She began her legal career at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey after clerking for the Honorable John J. Hughes, United States Magistrate Judge (retired), in the District of New Jersey. Prior to law school, Ms. Lee was a social worker for the Legal Aid Society in New York.


Laurie Robinson Haden

Laurie Robinson Haden is the President and CEO of Corporate Counsel Women of Color (CCWC), which she created in 2004 to advance women of color attorneys and foster diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession. In addition to her impactful work at CCWC, which now includes helping women of color entrepreneurs scale their for-profit businesses, Laurie served for nearly two decades in multiple leadership roles at CBS Corporation including Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel.

Laurie has been recognized by Lawyer of Color as one of the “Top Ten Black Lawyers of the Decade” and by Savoy magazine as one of the country’s “Most Influential Black Lawyers.” Recently, she was honored with the Humanitarian Award by the New York City Bar Association and the United Nations.

Laurie has certificates in entertainment media management from New York University and diversity and inclusion from Yale School of Management and Cornell University. She served on the board of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund for seven years and serves on the board of visitors of Indiana University School of Law Bloomington and North Carolina Central University Law School, where she serves as chair of the board. Laurie received her Bachelor of Arts from North Carolina Central University (magna cum laude) and her Juris Doctor from Indiana University School of Law Bloomington.


Education Honoree
José Bahamonde-González

Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. Heritage Award Honoree
Sherrilyn Ifill

Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. Heritage Award Honoree
Hon. Letitia James

Greater Equality Honoree
Jean Lee

Diversity Honoree
Laurie Robinson-Haden

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Council on Legal Education Opportunity, Inc.

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