In 2003, then Peoria County Bar Association (“PCBA”) President, Robert H. Jennetten, formed the Diversity Committee (“Committee”) with the charge of fostering diversity in the membership of the PCBA. The Committee developed a diversity pledge that many area law offices have signed. Those firms and individuals are included on this web page. On February 20, 2004, the Committee held its first Minority Job Forum in Peoria with fifteen students from Northern Illinois University College of Law (“NIUCOL”).
On September 20, 2004, the Committee held its first Diversity Luncheon featuring American Bar Association (“ABA”) President Robert J. Grey, Jr. Luncheon proceeds funded the first Diversity Scholarship, which the Committee awarded to University of Illinois College of Law student Timothy J. Bell.
In the summer of 2005, the Committee assisted Judge Stephen A. Kouri and the ABA Judicial Intern Opportunity Program (“JIOP”), which brought law students Dwayne J. Simpson, Rahul Kulkarni and Graciela Mata Zamudio to Peoria to work with the judges of the Tenth Judicial Circuit and the Federal Court. Later in 2005, former Attorney General and future U.S. Senator, Roland W. Burris, spoke at the second Diversity Luncheon.
In the winter of 2005, Committee members traveled to Illinois law schools in order to introduce the students to legal opportunities in Peoria. Also, the Committee began a pledge drive to fund the Diversity Scholarship. To view the list of those PCBA members who have made pledges click here.
During the summer of 2006, the JIOP interns, Sandra D. Delgado and Carlos Isaac, were both from Texas. In September 2006, the third annual Diversity Luncheon featured Bradley graduate Calvin G. Butler, then-Senior Vice-President of External Affairs at RR Donnelley. Beginning in 2006, the Committee partnered with Illinois Central College’s Upward Bound Program in order to mentor area high school students.
In 2007, Peoria hosted JIOP interns Ike Emejuru and Quyen Thi Le. The fourth annual Diversity Luncheon keynote speaker was Peter Alexander, then Dean of Southern Illinois University School of Law. Scholarship recipients were Rocio Beceriril, Melodi Green and Shannon Taylor.
In 2008, the Committee welcomed JIOP interns Martelli Borieux, Miguel Larios and Evan Perigo. At the fifth annual Diversity Luncheon in 2008, the newly appointed President of Bradley University, Joanne Glasser, was the keynote speaker. Scholarship recipients were: Rocio S. Becerril, Brigette M. Lobacz and Duncan O. Ojwang.
In April 2009, the Committee partnered with the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism in sponsoring a professionalism CLE on diversity. The 2009 JIOP interns were Chaoyi Ding from China and Shante Sylvester from Peoria. Keynote speaker for the sixth annual Diversity Luncheon was Anita Alvarez, Cook County State’s Attorney and then President of the Chicago Bar Association. The scholarship recipient was Ann-Kathrin Dudley. The Committee began working on restructuring the Diversity Scholarship in partnership with Bradley University’s pre-law program.
In May 2010, the Diversity Committee and the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism again in a collaborative effort sponsored a professionalism CLE on diversity. Participation in the 2010 professionalism CLE on diversity greatly increased from 2009 and included a visit by Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride, who observed and lauded the program. Feedback regarding the CLE has been overwhelmingly favorable, and the PCBA is considered to be on the forefront of professionalism training.
The 2010 JIOP interns were Jocelyn Neudauer and Olumide Idowu. Mr. Idowu and Ann-Kathrin Baker were recipients of the 2010 Peoria County Bar Association Diversity Scholarship. Raja Krishnamoorthi, former Deputy Illinois State Treasurer and Richwoods High School alum, was the speaker at the seventh annual Diversity Luncheon. The committee is continuing its collaborative efforts with Bradley University’s pre-law program.