Who is the most influential person in your law career?
I have had many mentors at various stages of my legal career but without a doubt my parents have had the biggest influence on me and my legal career. Building a meaningful career that is impactful can be challenging to navigate and I think their example of perseverance, being purposeful about the life they wanted to lead, having a heart for others, having a strong work ethic, and pursuing excellence, had real impact on me. Both my parents had very humble beginnings, with parents who were cocoa farmers in the Ashanti region of Ghana, but my father was able to earn a masters and doctorate in law from a world class institution and my mother went back to school to obtain her masters degree too while raising several children, including one who was a mere toddler. They showed me in their daily choices, sacrifices, and goals that the most improbable of dreams was always possible.
How long have you been a member of WWCDA and what drew you to the organization?
I joined the WWCDA in the spring of 2017. I had newly rejoined private practice after serving as a federal prosecutor in Chicago and a mentor whom I adored encouraged me to join her in an annual meeting in Florida. This mentor (the late Cathy M. O’Neil, after whom we have a WWCDA award named) told me it was a wonderful organization that was filled with women who were deeply supportive of one another. And from that very first annual meeting, I fell in love with the organization and its purpose. Unlike other conferences where you often felt that attendees spent time sizing each other up, the WWCDA appeared to be filled with women who genuinely were interested in helping to elevate the other women around them and support their success.
Can you tell us more about your WWCDA leadership role in the Programs Committee and how it has helped or advanced your practice?
My most significant leadership role has been in connection with the Awards Committee. I served as a member of the nominating committee for the Catherine M. O’Neil Award initially, then later served as co-chair of the full awards committee. I loved how the WWCDA effectively created a tangible means of recognizing and elevating women who have done amazing things in the white collar bar and may not have always received the recognition they so richly deserved.
Tell us something about you that might surprise us.
I think people are often surprised to hear that I was raised in Ghana and Botswana, arriving in the United States at 18 to begin college in Western Massachusetts. The fact that my formative years was spent in West and Southern Africa, gives me a perspective that I think is invaluable. My high school was started in the early 1970s by liberal white South Africans who fled Apartheid to Botswana (at the northern border of South Africa) to set up a multi-racial school that was focused on educational excellence, community service and a commitment to provide opportunities to educate low-income Batswana. I think that it was a real gift to come of age in a multicultural and multi-lingual environment that was focused on meaningful social impact. Not only did it make it easy for me to navigate the new and unfamiliar and make lasting connections with people from different backgrounds and experiences, but I think it has made me a better person and lawyer.
What are your favorite activities to do outside of the office (hobbies, interests)?
I love to dig into a good fiction book – the type you can’t put down and end up staying up way too late reading to find out what happens. However, I rarely get to lose myself in pleasure reading. For now, a close second is reading with my children. I have two young children and one of my favorite pastimes is sharing my love of reading with my nine-year-old daughter (my six-year-old tends to want to repeat the same books, so that loses its appeal quickly). She is an avid reader but still enjoys when I read to her. We have finished the Chronicles of Narnia and got through quite a few of Anne of Green Gables together. It is wonderful to share the joy of reading, the magic of escaping to far-off places and imagining whole worlds – all from mere words on a page.