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D.C. Bar Announces Leadership Academy Class of 2022

January 24, 2022

By Jeremy Conrad

The D.C. Bar has announced the 24 attorneys selected to attend its 2022 John Payton Leadership Academy. Representing a wide range of practice areas and environments, the attorneys will complete an intensive training program over five months that will equip them with the skills and tools necessary to excel in the increasingly competitive legal and business marketplaces. The academy’s program launched on January 21.

The following attorneys have been accepted into the Leadership Academy Class of 2022:

Lindsay Ayers, Policy Counsel, DC Justice Lab
Bardia Bastin, Staff Attorney, Legal Counsel for the Elderly
Justin Becker, Senior Managing Associate, Sidley Austin LLP
Ashley Carter, Supervising Attorney, DC Volunteer Lawyers Project
Zach Chapman, Associate, Jackson & Campbell, P.C.
Ashley Cooks, Director, Office of Government Ethics, Board of Ethics and Government Accountability
Ross Fishbein, Attorney, Alden Law Group, PLLC
Linda Ford, General Counsel, American Public Transportation Association
Jason Gerson, Privacy Counsel, TerraTrue
Alejandro Guadarrama, Counsel, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Kenneth Guerra, Associate, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP
Shanellah Verna Harris, Associate, Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP
Sarah Hollender, Associate Director, Tzedek DC
Natalie Laroche, Attorney Advisor, Department of Veterans Affairs
Teresa Lee, Managing Attorney, Kids in Need of Defense
Wenxi Li, Associate, DLA Piper
Carlton Martin, Pro Bono Director, National Homelessness Law Center
Christian Nestor, Founding Partner, Law Offices of Christian B. Nestor
Ada Okafor, General Counsel and Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, American Board of Surgery
Bianca Pinnock, Associate Attorney, Markham Law Firm
Roseann Romano, Associate, Murphy Anderson PLLC
Souvik Saha, Counsel, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP
Sonja Sahlsten, Associate, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP
Jessalyn Schwartz, Staff Attorney, Kids in Need of Defense

D.C. Bar Leadership Development Committee Chair Tim Webster said this year’s attendees were selected from among a highly talented pool of applicants, passionate about their contribution to society through leadership in the practice of law. “It’s fitting that during this 50th anniversary year of the D.C. Bar, the John Payton Leadership Academy will train an excellent class to lead the Bar well into its second 50 years,” he said.

Michelle Bercovici, vice chair of the committee, underscored the importance of fostering talented leadership during times of crisis. “The 2022 Leadership Academy is especially valuable as we emerge from the pandemic,” she said. “In addition to leadership skills, the course teaches resiliency and community building so that this group of remarkable and diverse participants can find strengths as individuals and as a community as they learn from each other and from current and past leaders. The course curriculum very much takes into account the challenges that leaders face today, equipping participants to thrive even in times of crisis and uncertainty.”

The Leadership Academy, which runs through May 20, features courses designed and taught by lawyers for lawyers. Participants will learn how to inspire others, build trust, communicate effectively, create a vision, set goals, define success, and more. The program consists of three classes, two of which will be held remotely on account of the pandemic and the third to be held in-person, conditions permitting. This year’s topics include leading through crisis, accomplishing goals while working remotely, and developing resilience, all of which are particularly timely given the ongoing disruptions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Participants will be trained by leadership experts Laurie Lyte, David Maas, and Diane Rosen. Lyte, a principal at Lytehouse Solutions LLC, is a certified coach, organizational consultant, and training professional with experience in both the public and private sector. Lyte’s expertise includes coaching individuals and teams, developing curricula, and facilitating group sessions on topics such as leadership, management, negotiation, conflict resolution, stress management, resiliency, and legal practice skills.

Maas is deputy director of the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Criminal Litigation Unit, where he oversees the office’s statewide prosecutor training programs. He has served as an assistant attorney general in the department for the past 13 years, and prior to that as an assistant district attorney in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, for nearly nine years.

Rosen, co-founder of Compass Consultants LLC, is an author, mediator, organizational consultant, and certified executive coach with experience in the private, nonprofit, and public sectors.

The Leadership Academy was established in 2013 and subsequently renamed in honor of the late John Payton, director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. Widely regarded as one of the most influential civil rights attorneys of his generation, Payton served as president of the D.C. Bar from 2001 to 2002 and devoted much of his career to the training and mentorship of young attorneys.


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