California Lawyers Association

Wise Words From the Women of CLA

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March 2023

In honor of Women’s History Month, California Lawyers Association (CLA) celebrates the many women who give their time and energy to our association. Their incredible work—for CLA and their professional careers—inspires us. 

Earlier this year, CLA connected with some of our most famous member leaders and asked them to share their advice for the next generation of women leaders. We hope their words of wisdom inspire you as they did us!

Image reads: Always remember you belong. - Demetria Graves, Esq.

“Always remember, you belong. Despite the negativity you will experience on your journey, you belong! Never dim your light for any person, experience, or anything that does not feel good to you. Also, live by Oprah Winfrey’s mantra: ‘It makes no difference how many peaks you reach if there was no pleasure in the climb.’”

Demetria Graves, Chair of CLA’s Family Law Section Executive Committee

Image reads: Do what scares you. - Tina Cannon Leahy

“My advice would be, do what scares you. Getting outside of your comfort zone can be hard. But sometimes, when we push ourselves, that’s when the greatest growth occurs. I try to empower other women by admitting that public speaking or taking a job in a new area was daunting but ultimately led to wonderful opportunities.”

Tina Cannon Leahy, Secretary, CLA Board of Representatives

Images reads: Believe in yourself and seek out new challenges and opportunities. - Emily Yu

“Believe in yourself and seek out new challenges and opportunities. When joining CLA’s IP Section, I was immediately welcomed by a number of strong and successful women who were more than happy to help encourage and mentor me. I gained confidence and perseverance while volunteering for our organization.” 

— Emily Yu, Chair, CLA’s Intellectual Property Law Section

Image reads: When women come together, we are an unstoppable force. - Sara Rief

“Women helping women is a powerful thing. Don’t be afraid to ask other women for help, how they “manage” their careers and family, or how they forged their paths. We must continue to elevate and raise each other, undermining the notion that women compete. Successful women collaborate. When women come together, we are an unstoppable force.” 

— Sara Rief, Chair, CLA Board of Representatives member and Chair of CLA’s Health and Wellness Committee

Images reads: Know the source of your own power. - Mary McKelvey

“There will come a time when there will be no one to show you what inspired leadership looks like because you must create it. Good skills may make you a good leader, but boldness and authenticity will make you a powerful leader. Know the source of your own power.” 

— Mary McKelvey, Chair, CLA’s Litigation Section

Image reads: Prioritize your goals; trust your ability to reach them. - Betty Williams

“Prioritize your goals; trust your ability to reach them. Choose wisely the people you associate with and the books you read; they form who you will be a decade from now. Meet other women leaders and learn from one another. Value yourself, value your time, and be kind to everyone.” 

— Betty Williams, CLA’s Vice President and Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Representatives

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