Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity
NFPA's Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity (DI&E) Committee was originated by Vice President and Director of Positions and Issues (VPPI) Lori Boris in 2017. The VPPI developed the DI&E Committee's policies and goals, oversees and supports its work, and serves as an ex-officio member.
The DI&E Committee's objective is to research, investigate, and recommend policy concerning the feasibility of implementing diversity, inclusion, and equity initiatives. One of the manners in which the DI&E Committee will achieve this objective is to work on development of NFPA's Model Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Policy to be used as a resource for NFPA member associations, and to provide guidance and suggestions for implementation of their own diversity, inclusion, and equity policies.
The DI&E Committee's first major initiative was development of NFPA's Justice Champion Award in honor of the late Heather Heyer, a paralegal at the Miller Law Group in Charlottesville, Virginia, for her dedication to the expansion of civil rights, social justice, and the expectation that all human beings be treated with dignity and respect. The Award was established to recognize a practicing paralegal whose conduct, actions, and activities demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to diversity and inclusion, as defined in NFPA's Position Statement on Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity, and in promotion of NFPA's Core Value of supporting unity within the profession. The inaugural recipient of the Justice Champion Award is Sonjanita C. Jordan, a past president and member of the New Orleans Paralegal Association. Sonjanita has been a leader in diversity, inclusion, and equity initiatives in her local area for many years and has consistently challenged injustice. One of her greatest accomplishments has been her participation in the “Know Your Rights” Expungement Clinic, organizing paralegal participation in her racially diverse home area where a disproportionate number of citizens of color are arrested for minor offenses. This tarnishes their records, limits them from living a successful life, and meaningfully excludes them from society. The Expungement Clinic allows them to clear their records and attain inclusion in the community. This has had a measurable impact on the social and economic health of the local area. In addition, Sonjanita created and leads Mentoring Programs at four colleges, bringing together paralegals, lawyers, and legal instructors to guide paralegals from all backgrounds and economic levels toward success in the profession.
The DI&E Committee's second major initiative was the updating of NFPA's 2006 Position Statement on Diversity. The updated and revised Position Statement on Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity was unanimously approved by the delegates at the 2018 Convention.
The DI&E Committee is working on the following professional development initiatives:
- NFPA's Model Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Policy
- Diversity and Inclusion as an Ethical Requirement
- Unconscious, Implicit, and Affinity Bias
- NFPA's ADA Accommodations Policy
The DI&E Committee welcomes your input. If you are interested in additional information, or would like to join this active and dynamic Committee, please contact NFPA's Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Coordinator, Sybil Taylor Aytch, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The members of the Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Committee are:
- Sybil Taylor Aytch, RP®, M.Ed., Coordinator - Sacramento Valley Paralegal Association
- Wayne D. Akin - Oregon Paralegal Association
- Ronell B. Badua - Oregon Paralegal Association
- Jimece S. Black - Missouri Paralegal Association
- Brenna C. Dickey, RP® - Oregon Paralegal Association
- Sonjanita C. Jordan - New Orleans Paralegal Association
- Salimah Rosenberry, ACP - Central Pennsylvania Paralegal Association
- Tom Stephenson, ILAP - Illinois Paralegal Association
Jay M. Williams, TBLS-BCP, Dallas Area Paralegal Association