Deep in the roots of our national conscience is the intuition that every person is created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights. However diverse our individual beliefs, and however differently we might word it, this fundamental conviction remains. Today, we are increasingly aware that there is much to be done to make this truth a reality, and that each person, working together with others, is the key to progress.
Connolly Gallagher (“CG”) is a Delaware law firm committed to improving our community by working for social justice and expanding opportunities for all, including by promoting diversity and inclusion. We believe in the fundamental dignity of each person, and that, by working together, we can achieve great things. (Click here to read CG Stands with the Black Community.)
To this end, CG has promoted a broad array of initiatives to promote social justice, diversity, and inclusion. Since the founding of our firm in 2012, we have sponsored an annual “Connolly Gallagher Day” on which attorneys and staff work together on service projects and share fellowship. Building on this foundation, CG’s Diversity and Inclusion (“D&I”) Committee meets monthly to develop opportunities for service, mentorship, sponsorship, and education relating to diversity and inclusion within our firm and the larger community. For example, in 2018, the D&I Committee sponsored the Wilmington premiere of the award-winning film, “The Reprogramming of Jeremy,” a fictional docudrama about transgender issues directed and produced by a CG employee. In addition, the D&I Committee has hosted celebrations of National Black History Month and National Women’s Month. Last summer, the D&I Committee organized a firm-wide collection of 800 pounds of professional clothing to benefit persons seeking to enter the job market, which was distributed through several Delaware charities including the West End Neighborhood House, the United Way of Delaware, and the Sunday Breakfast Mission.
CG has supported, among other organizations dedicated to social justice, diversity and inclusion, the National Association of Women Lawyers, the Fund for Women-Delaware Community Foundation, the Delaware State Bar Association’s (“DSBA”) Women and the Law Section, the Boy Scouts of America, the DSBA’s Annual MLK Jr. Breakfast and Day of Service, the Minority Supplemental Bar Review sponsored by the Multicultural Judges and Lawyers Section of the DSBA, and the Delaware Juvenile Expungement Program. Our managing partner, Chip Connolly, just completed a three-year term as Co-Chair of the Combined Campaign for Justice, which raises funds each year to support legal aid organizations that provide free legal services to our most vulnerable residents – the poor, the disabled, and the elderly. On a daily basis, many of the attorneys and staff at CG contribute considerable time, talent, and treasure to a wide variety of other charitable organizations and good works.
CG is also home to one of Delaware’s largest labor and employment law practice groups, which works to promote fair employment practices by helping employers comply with the laws and by helping employees vindicate their employment rights. The firm offers its own employees generous benefits, including extended parental leave, beyond many firms its size. In each of the last four years, CG has been recognized as one of Delaware’s Top Workplaces.
Through our Diversity and Inclusion Committee, we are committed to developing an even broader range of opportunities for service, mentorship, sponsorship, and education to promote diversity and inclusion within our firm and the larger community.
The firm welcomed Dick Nenno to share his story leading a successful legal career at Wilmington Trust and being blind. Although society labels blindness as a disability Dick Nenno is far from disabled. He graduated cum laude from Princeton University then earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a nationally recognized speaker and published authority on estate planning issues. His contributions to the national estate planning community are tremendous.
May is Jewish American Heritage Month (“JAHM”). This year’s JAHM takes its theme from the ancient sage Rabbi Hillel’s most well-known saying–“If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now—when?”–and the work of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma. Connolly Gallagher LLP and the D&I Committee welcomed Shari Preston, the first female cantor at a synagogue in the Wilmington, DE area back in the 1980s.
Globally, Earth Day is celebrated on April 22nd to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Connolly Gallagher welcomed Susan Love, the Administrator of Delaware’s Climate, Coastal and Energy Division to speak to us about the state’s approach via science, education and policy development to address climate challenges. Ms. Love engaged the firm with “fun facts” and afforded us ideas about how we can support environmental efforts in the future.
March is Women’s History Month and the firm was pleased to welcome Anne M. Boylan, Professor Emerita from the University of Delaware to present on “Delaware and the Women’s Suffrage Movement.” The virtual presentation afforded insight not only on the prominent Delaware suffragists but the drama that took place in Dover between March -June 1920 including; our Pro-suffrage Republican governor John G. Townsend who called a special session of General Assembly, the parades, lobbying, rallies, speeches and finally the Senate that ratified Women’s Right to Vote in May however the House adjourned without ratifying on June 2.
On February 17, 2021, the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee welcomed federal public defender for the District of Delaware, Edson Bostic, Esq., to speak as part of its lunch and learn series. Among other things, Mr. Bostic shared his story of being a black man and an immigrant in both the public and private sectors of the legal industry. Mr. Bostic encouraged everyone to welcome, support and understand diversity in law firms and in all aspects of life, as it is essential for growth and business success, as well as so that all perspectives are included and considered in decision making.
Duffy’s H.O.P.E. (Helping Our young People to Excel) is a Delaware youth education outreach program started in 1998 by Allen “Duffy” Samuels, a former Glasgow High All-State point guard. His organization is 100% staffed by volunteers and has serviced over 4,500 children through mentorship, intervention, youth basketball and a community garden. Upon acceptance into the H.O.P.E. Duffy works with the entire family in order to promote success, safety and performance at home, school and community
The Latin American Community Center (“LACC”) is a more than a community resource. Having recently celebrated their 50th anniversary here in Wilmington, LACC works hand-in-hand on issues facing the Latino community. Ms. Burgos-Rincon spotlighted programs for both youth and elderly residents, engagement with immigrants to assist with transition to life in the United States and ongoing development and expansion of the LACC mission.
Having learned of our client, Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation’s recent philanthropic efforts with the Navajo Nation, the Diversity & Inclusion Committee decided to invite Villanova University Law School professor, Ann C. Juliano in to the firm to share some of her extensive Native American knowledge. The educational presentation afforded the audience a better understanding of Federal Indian law as well as enriched perspective on issues we see in the news media.
The firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee hosted Dr. Tony Allen, Executive Vice President and Provost at Delaware State University, one of the nation’s oldest and most diverse Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Dr. Allen shared informative and inspiring facts about the university that afforded the audience knowledge about yet another fine institution here in the state of Delaware making a difference for many “Dreamer” students as well as first-generation college students.
The firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee hosted Carol Waldhauser, executive director of the Delaware State Bar Association’s Lawyers’ Assistance Program (DE-LAP) in to the firm to present a program titled Control Over Chaos. Ms. Waldhauser has served the legal community in Delaware and Maryland for over 20 years, helping promote healthy work-life balance and address problems such as depression, stress management, and substance abuse/dependence.
The firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee hosted Gabriel Said Reynolds, a professor of Islamic Studies and Theology at the University of Notre Dame for an ice cream social and a short talk about his recent book on the Bible and Qur’an. He spoke on recent discoveries of ancient manuscripts that have challenged traditional Islamic views about the Qur’an, and the relationship of the Qur’an to the Bible.
The firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee hosted a Pride Month celebration. The Honorable Jan R. Jurden joined the firm for an informal lunch program where she spoke about being a member of the LGBTQ community and the adversity as well as the support she has experienced throughout her legal career in Delaware.
The firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee hosted a Women’s History Month celebration. Attorney General for the State of Delaware, Kathy Jennings, joined the firm for an informal lunch program where she spoke about her upbringing, her career choice and her absolute passion for her role as attorney general. Ms. Jennings reminded the Connolly Gallagher audience about the importance of being ourselves.
The firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee hosted a Black History Month celebration. Connolly Gallagher partner, N. Christopher Griffiths welcomed his accomplished sister, Rachel Eliza Griffiths to perform a poetry reading. Rachel’s most recent collection of poetry is Lighting the Shadow (Four Way Books 2015) and her works have appeared widely, including The New Yorker, Virginia Quarterly Review, American Poetry Review and Buzzfeed to name a few. Also, the Christina Cultural Arts Center African Dance Ensemble performed and provided the audience with a wonderful display of talent and culture. On an annual basis, the CCAC provides more than 2000 Delaware students access to the school of arts.
The firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee hosted a “dress for success” clothing drive in order to support: West End Neighborhood House, United Way of Delaware, and Sunday Breakfast Mission–all Delaware-based non-profit organizations that assist adults in our community re-enter the workforce. Below is a picture of the delivery made to Sunday Breakfast Mission.
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