Candidate Statements 2019

Candidate Statements for HBA-DC Elections 2019

 

Below you will find the statements of candidates running for Officer and Board Member positions.  Elections will take place on Thursday January 10, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. at Fried Frank, 801 17th Street, NW Washington, DC 20006
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PRESIDENT ELECT: RUBEN F. REYNA

 

 


Dear HBA-DC Members,

I seek your support of my candidacy for the position of President-Elect for HBA-DC.  I am running because I want to continue the great work we do and play a role in HBA-DC’s growth moving forward.

I joined HBA-DC in 2011 and quickly learned that the opportunity to serve the organization is one of the most rewarding benefits of membership.  I was active in the Legislative and Policy Issues Committee and became Vice-Chair and then Chair of that committee in 2013 and 2014.  I served on the HBA-DC Board as Secretary in 2015 and 2016 and I was honored to serve as the organization’s Vice-President of External Affairs in 2017 and as Vice-President of Internal Affairs in 2018.  Over my years of service, I gained a thorough understanding of the Board, the role of President, and the many components that make up HBA-DC.  Throughout my tenure, I have been impressed and motivated by the quality and dedication of our members.  I am proud of the work HBA-DC has done and continues to do to promote the advancement of Hispanic attorneys and the greater Hispanic community.

If elected President-Elect, in addition to supporting the President and the Board, I promise to work diligently to carry on that mission – ensuring that HBA-DC will continue to serve the advancement of Hispanics in the legal profession and helping our organization grow while maintaining its relevance to the entire membership, from law student to seasoned professional.

I would consider it an honor and privilege to be elected as President-Elect of HBA-DC in 2019.  Thank you in advance for your support.

Sincerely,

Ruben F. Reyna

 

VICE-PRESIDENT FOR EXTERNAL AFFAIRS: MARITZA PEREZ


 

 

Dear HBA-DC Members:

 

My name is Maritza Perez and I humbly ask for your vote to serve on the HBA-DC Board as the Vice President of External Affairs. I believe I will be effective in this role, as demonstrated by my long-term commitment to HBA-DC and the greater Latino community of the DMV area.

 

I first joined HBA-DC as a law student in 2012. Upon moving to Washington, DC after law school in 2015, I joined the Communications Committee of HBA-DC and have been an active member since. Last year, I had the pleasure of serving on the Board of Directors of HBA-DC. In addition to this role, I co-led the Legislative and Policy Committee, which published several advocacy pieces through the year ranging from letters to the government demanding it protect immigrants to writing op-eds signaling the value of Latino lawyers in our society. I also served on the Communications Committee, helping publish our weekly newsletter, and the Equal Justice Awards Committee in order to help plan our landmark annual event. Moreover, I served on the Board of the HBA-DC Foundation, which awards scholarships to our Latino student members on an annual basis. Finally, I helped organize a Latina Leadership Academy reunion at the end of 2018. All of these experiences taught me more about our organization and our community, and I am ready to take on more responsibility to oversee our continued success.

 

Next year, as the Vice President of External Affairs, I would like to work with other diverse and local bars to strengthen our presence in the DMV area. I think this will also allow our members’ networks to expand and will facilitate collaboration with other bars whose goals and obstacles mirror ours. This opportunity excites me. I hope you consider my nomination, as I would truly be honored to serve as an Officer of HBA-DC.
 

 

VICE-PRESIDENT FOR INTERNAL AFFAIRS: CARMEN BANERJEE

 

 

 

Dear Members,

I respectfully seek re-election as a member of the Board of the Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia (HBA-D.C.) for 2019, specifically to serve as Vice President of Internal Affairs. In 2018, I had the honor of serving as a Director at Large of the Board, and in 2017 as co-chair of HBA-D.C.’s Endorsements Committee. As Vice-President, I am committed to continue carrying out HBA-D.C.’s mission to professionally develop and advance Hispanic attorneys in the District.

Serving in leadership roles in HBA-D.C. and as Chair of the Association of Hispanic Employees for Advancement and Development at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJAHEAD) within the last two years has equipped me for service as Vice President of Internal Affairs on the HBA-D.C. Board. During 2018, as an HBA-D.C. Director at Large, my primary responsibility was as Board Liaison to our Endorsements Committee. In that role, I oversaw the Committee’s work, including compliance with HBA-D.C.’s policy and procedures pertaining to the consideration and selection of endorsees. Additionally, I advised the President and President-Elect of HBA-D.C. on a variety matters. Our work through the Endorsements Committee has contributed to the increase of Hispanics on the bench and on the Board of the D.C. Bar. For example, one of the three Hispanic HBA-D.C. endorsees in 2017 was a judicial candidate, who now serves as a Magistrate Judge in the Superior Court of D.C. Similarly, in 2018 HBA-D.C. endorsed several current officers of the D.C. Bar, and judicial candidates for several Associate Judge vacancies on the Superior Court of D.C., three of whom the Judicial Nomination Commission (JNC) recently recommended to the White House.

Correspondingly, my work as Chair of DOJ-AHEAD included programming to increase diversity while advancing professionally non-legal staff and attorneys. For example, DOJAHEAD sponsored a presentation to DOJ attorneys affiliated with DOJ affinity organizations by JNC’s Executive Director and its Chair. As Chair of DOJ-AHEAD, I also prepared and moderated a panel presentation to all DOJ employees on how to prepare for the Senior Executive Service.

I am proud of HBA-D.C.’s accomplishments and I hope you will support my run as Vice President of Internal Affairs. I look forward to the chance of continuing to fulfill HBA-D.C.’s mission of developing and advancing the careers of HBA-D.C. members, and serving the local legal and greater communities.

Sincerely,

Carmen M. Banerjee 

 

 

VICE-PRESIDENT OF MEMBERSHIP: WANDALY FERNANDEZ

 



Dear HBA-DC family,

 

I am seeking your support to serve as VP of Membership for HBA-DC. I am running for this position because I would like to further my contribution to an organization that has meant so much to me.

 

I first joined HBA-DC when I moved to DC for my first job as a lawyer in 2014. It has been an invaluable place for mentorship, career advice, and meaningful friendships. I have been active in the organization since I joined. In 2014, I served as a co-chair of the Professional Development subcommittee for big law lawyers, I have also served as co-chair of the Professional Development Committee in 2016 and 2018. In these positions, I’ve helped coordinate networking events and educational panels on professional development for our members. My motivation to be engaged in the HBA-DC is the members and the students that we serve. I admire all of the great Latino lawyers that this organization brings together and it’s very important to continue nurturing these relationships and ensuring that our members stay engaged.

 

I promise to work hard on the Board and continue to make HBA-DC the best bar association in DC!

 

Mil gracias por tu apoyo!

 

Best,

Wandaly

 

TREASURER: ADAM ACOSTA

 

 

Dear HBA-DC members:

 

I seek your support to serve as HBA-DC’s Treasurer in 2019.  I have served as a HBA-DC board member since 2015 and have gained valuable insight into this organization, including the budgetary and financial aspects of HBA-DC.

As a board member for the last four years, I have had the responsibility of scrutinizing and voting to approve HBA-DC’s budgets and various operating expenses.  In addition to my duties as Vice President of External Affairs in 2018, I also served on HBA-DC’s Investment Committee, which was responsible for assessing the financial status of this organization, preparing an investment policy, and taking steps to ensure adequate funding.

As Vice President of Internal Affairs in 2017, I handled the various procedural and administrative work that helps keep this organization running.  Part of my duties were to research and begin to formulate updated bookkeeping and tax policies and practices for HBA-DC.  I also led the implementation of the HBA-DC’s strategic planning initiative with the American Bar Association’s Bar Services Division.

 

As Vice President of Membership from 2015-2016, I took extensive steps to recruit and retain new and existing members, leading to a significant increase in membership and dues for HBA-DC that reflects one of the largest membership increases in HBA-DC history.

If elected Treasurer, I will work diligently to establish and implement policies and procedures, as necessary, to ensure the financial wellbeing of this organization for many years to come.  I look forward to the opportunity to continue serving HBA-DC.

 

Respectfully,


Adam Acosta


SECRETARY: GIDGET BENITEZ

 

 

 

Dear fellow HBA-DC members,

 

 My name is Gidget Benitez and I am running for the Secretary position on the 2019 HBA-DC Board. I’d like to serve on the Board because I have great respect for the organization and its members, who have become an integral part of my personal and professional development.

 

 In 2013, I joined the Hispanic Bar Association of DC (HBA-DC) as a first-year law student. From 2013 to 2016, I contributed to the Student Affairs Committee by volunteering and helping to match mentors and mentees for the Mentoring Program. As a member and law school liaison, I encouraged law student membership and assisted with event execution.

 

 In 2017, I was selected to be Co-Chair of the Student Affairs Committee. I led the effort to digitize the Mentoring Program applications and feedback forms for mentors and mentees. I also organized and shared resources with the Committee, to disseminate to local law schools. Finally, I encouraged members to take active roles within HBA-DC and their respective institutions.

 

 In 2018, I had the privilege of serving as the Chair of the Diversity Report Committee. I sought and compiled data on Latino hiring in the legal profession, both within the District of Columbia and across the United States. I also drafted the original version of the report and provided feedback on the final version.

 

 With your support for my candidacy as Secretary, I will continue to dedicate my service and skill set to the community to ensure that we achieve the HBA-DC's mission and principles. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to working together towards another successful year in 2019.

 

Respectfully,

 

Gidget G. Benitez

 

 

BOARD OF DIRECTORS - AT LARGE (listed alphabetically)

 

 



CATHERINE CONE

Colleagues,

My name is Catherine Cone. I am running for the position of At Large Board Member on the Board of Directors of the Hispanic Bar Association of DC (HBA-DC) because I believe I can effectively contribute to the cause of advancing and developing Latinos in the legal profession and promoting equal justice and opportunity for all Latinos given my prior experience serving the Latino legal community and proven dedication to the mission of the organization. As an active member of the HBA-DC since my first year of law school, I have been rewarded with the gift of mentorship, leadership by example, and engaging programming and service opportunities. Recognizing the value HBA-DC has played in helping me grow into a civil rights litigator and overcome the challenges that result from being a first-generation Latino lawyer, I have sought to fully avail myself of the networks and insights the organization has afforded me while also seeking to give back.

As a member of the Legislative and Policy Committee during law school, I joined the effort to encourage the DC Council to adopt a resolution urging Congress to pass the DREAM Act. This was an invaluable experience and foray into legislative advocacy on issues of interest to the Latino community. Later, as the liaison to the HBA DC Judicial Council, I spearheaded the first judicial clerkship boot camp, aimed at educating Latino law students on the benefits afforded by clerkships and providing the building blocks to submit a strong application to trial and appellate courts whether at the state, federal, or administrative level. In 2016, I served as Student Affairs Committee Co-Chair with Sandra Bellew, during which we expanded the pipeline of Latino mentees to be paired with knowledgeable mentors who have served as valuable resources, sounding boards, and avenues for exploring various subject matters and skills sets for these mentees. As a founder of a first-generation mentoring program, these kinds of efforts are near and dear to me, and it will be my goal to ensure such offerings are responsive to the needs of our student members. Finally, having joined the Professional Development Committee, I have had the opportunity to develop novel programming that offered best practices and lessons learned to young lawyers regarding how to succeed in the early years of their careers.

My hope is to build on these prior experiences and use the skills I have acquired through work, namely, problem-solving, creative thinking, and community and relationship building, to ensure HBA-DC continues its great work. I will work hard to support our HBA-DC President in solidifying the organization's important place in our broader DC community.

Today I seek your support so I can serve you on the 2019 HBA-DC Board of Directors. It would be my honor and privilege.

Thank you.


SHIRLEY DIAZ

Dear HBA-DC Members,

Please accept my application for the position of At-Large Board Member. I joined HBA-DC during my 1L summer in 2016 and have taken advantage of the various networking receptions, resume review workshops, Latina leadership conferences, and mentorship opportunities since then. As I have finally graduated law school, I would like to give back to HBA-DC by serving as a board member.

I am especially interested in helping students transition into private firm life and connecting those already in firms. Of course, I am also interested in other general HBA-DC events that cater to all attorneys as well.

Thank you for your consideration.

All the best,

Shirley



JULIAN GONZALEZ

 

Dear HBA-DC Members,
 
Greetings, my name is Julian Gonzalez and I humbly ask for your vote to serve as an At-Large  Board Member for the 2019 HBA-DC Board of Directors. 
 
I joined HBA-DC shortly after I graduated from law school here in Washington, D.C., in 2013. My first job upon graduation did not quite provide the outlet I needed for public service and community involvement, and so on the advice of some friends I thrust myself headfirst into HBA-DC. Specifically, I joined the Legislative and Policy Issues Committee, eager to do meaningful research and collaborate with other like-minded individuals. The HBA-DC community, and that committee in particular, embraced and matched my enthusiasm more than I could have ever anticipated. 
 
After contributing to the committee with legislative research, drafting of letters, fact sheets, and other documents, I was fortunate enough to serve as co-chair of the committee from 2015-2017. This tremendous opportunity allowed me to learn more about how HBA-DC's board works now, and about HBA-DC's historical advocacy for the Latino community here in Washington since 1977. I have also participated in EJA Awards Subcommittee, as well as several volunteer charity events throughout the years. 
 
As an At-Large Board member, I would look forward to bringing my perspective as an environmental attorney working for a non-profit on Clean Water policy issues across the country. My environmental policy work is a natural extension of my personal commitment to public service and the well being of underprivileged communities, the common thread throughout all of my education, extracurricular activity, and professional work. If elected, I am committed to helping law students and young lawyers understand the myriad ways in which they can impact communities in need, whether in their professional or personal capacity. I look forward to the chance to build on HBA-DC's past efforts in advocacy and community building, and to use this position to assist the board in managing the daily workings of the organization. 
 
Thank you for considering my candidacy for this position. 
 
Sincerely,
Julian Gonzalez


 

JACLYN E. MARTÍNEZ RESLY


Dear fellow HBA-DC Members:

I humbly request your support to re-elect me to an At-Large Board of Directors position for the 2019 calendar year. I have been on the Board since 2017 and have worked hard to support our organization, other Board members, the committees, and, of course, all of you. During my time on the Board, I have been on the EJA fundraising committee, have helped plan the organization’s “Evening With” and Resume Review activities, and I have been the Board Liaison to, and active participant in, the Public Service Committee.

During my time as a member of HBA-DC (and the past two years as an At-Large Board Member), I have been inspired by our community and the work that we do for each other and the Latino community at large. That’s why, even before I was on the Board, I was active by helping to coordinate HBA-DC’s student reception, serving as a mentor in HBA-DC’s mentorship program, and attending a variety of HBA-DC events.

Personally, I am an eighth year litigation associate at Covington & Burling LLP and am originally from El Paso, Texas. I have called D.C. home since the end of 2012. I have long been dedicated to Latino/a advancement and community. In college and law school, I worked to advance Latino/a history at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Latino/a rights at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, Latino/a policy as the co-editor-in-chief at the Harvard Latino Law Review, and Latino/a community as my law school’s Latino/a group social chair. At Covington, I am a member of the diversity committee, a member of the leadership team of the Latino/a affinity group, and a founding member of the firm’s working group on diversity speaker series. I was also selected as the firm’s representative for the Leadership Council for Legal Diversity’s (“LCLD”) Pathfinder program in 2016.

If selected to continue on the Board, I am committed to continuing to serve with dedication.

I sincerely thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully,

Jaclyn E. Martínez Resly


NELLY MONTENEGRO

 

            I am very excited to submit a candidate statement for an at-large board member position on the Hispanic Bar Association of DC (HBA-DC) 2019 Board. As an immigrant and first lawyer in my family, I am committed to the principles of HBA-DC including advancing and developing practicing and aspiring Latinx-lawyers. I look forward to using my personal and professional experiences to support HBA-DC’s professional career development programming; ensure the programs adopt an intersectional lens to meet the diverse needs of the Latinx community; and promote public-interest opportunities that serve marginalized Latinx-communities in the District of Columbia. I am proud of my contributions as an HBA-DC member and Chair of the Student Affairs Committee and look forward to making an even more substantial contribution to HBA-DC as an at-large board member in 2019.

 

            HBA-DC’s professional career-development programs and mentoring opportunities are critical to the advancement of Latinx attorneys in leadership positions. Having practiced in D.C. for seven-years, I know first-hand how difficult it is for Latinx attorneys to secure stable and sustainable employment in this highly-competitive market. Thanks to HBA-DC’s professional development opportunities, such as the Latina Leadership Academy and Mentoring Programs, I had the opportunity to gain insight from well-established attorneys in the District to secure several competitive positions including serving as the Supervising Attorney of Ayuda’s Domestic Violence/Family Law Division; a Policy and National Training Attorney at the American Bar Association; and now an Attorney Negotiator in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Thanks to the practical skills I gained through HBA-DC programs; including advocacy, negotiation, self-marketing, and networking skills, I was able to break many barriers and secure my dream-job. As an at-large board member, I look forward to passing down the skills that contributed to my success to other Latinx attorneys.

 

            In addition to supporting professional development opportunities, I am committed to adopting an intersectional lens to ensure HBA-DC programming supports the diverse Latinx legal community in D.C. All too often, Latinx attorneys dedicate their lives to protect the civil rights and dignity of Latinx communities on the ground but also have to fight the legal profession to obtain the same respect and opportunities as their non-minority counterparts. As the only local bar association serving the needs of Hispanic attorneys in D.C., I believe it is the Board’s duty to ensure all members of the Latinx legal community receive practical tools to succeed in this city and feel comfortable in Latinx spaces. Although I recognize that it is difficult to target every diverse issue facing Latinx attorneys, it is important to ensure the professional development opportunities are accessible to all Latinx attorneys and do not exclude specific groups from feeling accepted or comfortable in HBA-DC spaces.

 

            Finally, I am excited to serve as an at-large board member to support HBA-DC’s extensive public-interest and pro-bono opportunities to serve the local Hispanic community. As an immigrant and former advocate for Latinx-immigrants in D.C., I personally know the difficulties and barriers facing that community on a national and local-level. Although many Latinx attorneys are not able to practice in fields that directly serve marginalized communities, HBA-DC programming can provide Latinx attorneys opportunities to give back to their communities and advocate for Latinx communities to be treated with respect, fairness, and basic human decency. Regardless of individual political beliefs, it is imperative for Hispanic leaders in DC to be on the front lines, advocating in Congress, the courts, and government agencies to ensure our families’ rights are protected regardless of the color of their skin, race, accent, or national-origin. Oftentimes, I am humbled by the extensive work HBA-DC on this front and look forward to rolling up my sleeves and continuing to do this necessary work.

 

            Thank you for considering me to serve as an at-large board member. My genuine commitment to serve the Latinx legal community will motivate me to be a hard-working and dedicating board member. In addition to wanting to support HBA-DC’s goals and initiatives, my management, political, and negotiating skills will benefit the Board’s programming and event-planning initiatives. I am more than happy to answer any additional questions concerning my qualifications and interest to serve on the HBA-DC Board. 

 

VICTORIA ORTEGA

 

Dear all:

I look forward to future and greater involvement with the Hispanic Bar Association of DC in 2019 as an At-Large Board Member.  I am currently a fifth-year Associate in the Commercial Litigation Group at Blank Rome LLP.

I have been dedicated to maintaining a connection with and strengthening the Hispanic community even before attending law school.  My first career involved advising Latino high school students in Chicago through the postsecondary education process.  I received a Master of Arts degree in Higher Education Access and wrote my thesis about state and federal laws affecting undocumented student access to postsecondary education.  I decided to leave the education world to practice law at 29 years old.  I knew, however, that despite the career change, I wanted to continue to be involved with the Latino community.

And I have.  For three years, I have served on the Advisory Board of AYUDA, a non-profit that provides social and legal services to newly arrived immigrants to the DMV area, many of which are from Central America.  I have also dedicated my pro bono practice to asylees from Central America, and in that effort, I have won asylum for three minors from El Salvador. 

My involvement with the Hispanic Bar Association has been an integral piece of my post-law school commitment to the Latino community.  Upon graduating from University of Maryland and moving back to D.C., a law school colleague introduced me to the HBA-DC.  I was immediately impressed by the participation of individuals from all stages of the legal profession: law students to judges.  Furthermore, as a first-generation college student, I personally appreciate the significance of a supporting network as one enters law school and embarks on a legal career.  In the past two years, I have served as a mentor and been an active member of the Endorsements and Social Committees of HBA-DC.  Next year, as an At-Large Board Member, I hope to execute the vision of the HBA leadership as well as contribute my own experiences and perspective.

I thank you for your consideration of my nomination as a 2019 HBA-DC At-Large Board Member.

Best regards,

Victoria


JAZZIRELLE SEPULVEDA


Dear Fellow HBA-DC Members:

 

I am seeking your support for my candidacy as an At-Large Member of the Board of Directors for HBA-DC. I am currently a fourth year associate in the litigation and investigations practice at Covington & Burling LLP where I am actively involved in diversity and recruitment efforts. I was recently named to Prospanica’s “40 Under 40” list, recognizing professionals who have demonstrated leadership, service, and commitment to advancing the Latino community. Over the past six years, HBA-DC has been more than just a professional network and has become a family to me.

 

I have been an active member of HBA-DC since I moved to DC to attend law school in 2012. During the summer after my first year of law school I participated in the Judicial Internship Program in which I had the privilege of interning for the Honorable Judge Seoane López. I have served on the Student Affairs Committee since joining HBA-DC. In this capacity, I have assisted with organizing numerous events and have served as a mentor to several law students, a panelist at the Robert E. Wone Judicial Clerkship and Internship Conference, a panelist on clerkship panels for the Judicial Internship Program, and a liaison between HBA-DC and local Latino law student organizations.

 

For the past year, I have co-chaired the Social and Special Events Committee. During this time I have organized several HBA-DC events including a networking fundraiser for The Young Center to provide support to families separated at the border, the annual HBA-DC holiday party fundraiser for Mary’s Center, and a Latina Leadership Academy reunion brunch. Additionally, I have volunteered numerous pro bono hours at legal immigration clinics co-sponsored by HBA-DC to provide legal services to the Latino community in DC.

 

I have experienced the impact of HBA-DC first-hand and am dedicated to supporting HBA-DC’s mission of advancing Latinos in the legal profession and serving the Latino community. For these reasons, I respectfully ask for your vote in support of my candidacy as an At-Large Member of the Board of Directors at the annual elections meeting.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jazzirelle Sepulveda 


 

 

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