California Lawyers Association

A Tribute to Our Founding C.E.O.

By President Emilio Varanini and 
Chair of the Board of Representatives Betty Williams

We would be remiss if we didn’t take this opportunity to thank Ona Alston Dosunmu for all she has done to help launch CLA and successfully navigate our association through a challenging pandemic year.

As Ona recently shared, she’ll soon be leaving CLA to return to her family on the East Coast in her new role as president and C.E.O. of the National Association of College and University Attorneys. We wish her well; she will be sorely missed. 

Ona has been instrumental in helping us realize our mission of promoting excellence, diversity, and inclusion in the legal profession, and fairness in the administration of justice and the rule of law. In a relatively short time, Ona helped us hire our complete professional staff, build out a new office in Sacramento and revitalize our membership and dues structure. Under her leadership, CLA has sustained our Sections and grown our mission-critical initiatives in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and civic engagement and outreach. 

She has engaged numerous stakeholders, including those in the Legislature and the courts, and helped establish the California Lawyers Foundation. This charitable arm and partner of CLA helps us carry out initiatives such as educating the public about civics and the law, providing a platform for free legal advice on COVID-19 related matters, and awarding diversity scholarships.

Ona has also helped to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion at CLA — an essential ingredient for any thriving organization but especially important for an organization such as ours that is so committed to improving diversity in the profession. The strong sense of community at CLA she has nurtured makes us all feel proud of the work we do together. 

We are grateful that she has given our association a solid foundation from which to grow.

Continuing the spirit of that foundation, we have two virtual events coming up that showcase the very best of CLA and what it offers to you, our members. 

Coming up this Wednesday, we’ll kick off our Judicial Diversity Summit with a virtual fireside chat in which we recollect 15 years of our collaborative efforts to diversify the judicial branch. Join us for a series of events featuring judges and other leaders in the community. This summit only occurs once every five years; we would appreciate your participation.   

From September 23rd to 25th we’ll be hosting our virtual Annual Meeting packed with events tailored for legal professionals. Keynote speakers include UC Hastings Chief Executive Professor at LexLab Alice Armitage, Arizona Diamondbacks Executive Vice President & Chief Legal Officer Nona Lee, and civil rights attorney John Burris. The conference offers opportunities for networking and learning about the newest legal trends and cases, including a fireside chat jointly presented by the California Judges Association.

We look forward to seeing you soon. 

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