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Welcome from the President

On behalf of our wonderful Board of Directors, it is an honor and privilege to welcome you to what promises to be a very exciting year for the Mississippi Women Lawyers’ Association.  I have pondered what to include in this welcome message since taking the reigns as President during our Eighth Annual Day of Leadership held this past May. During this event, we were blessed to have many great speakers and were honored to present our Outstanding Women Lawyers of the Year Award to Rebecca Wiggs and our Lifetime Achievement Award to the wonderful Margaret Ellis. Our insightful panelists and the speeches made by, and on behalf of, these great women made me proud to be a female attorney in our great State but also confirmed again that we must continue to work together to increase the quantity and quality of opportunities available to women in our State.

MWLA was founded in 1976. We undoubtedly still face many of the same challenges as our founders, but the inspiring women leaders that were a part of this past Day of Leadership, the first-year attorneys and students I have met this past year at our events, and the many wonderful members of this Association have instilled in me a great excitement for our future. This year’s theme is Working Together to Shatter the Ceiling: Celebrating 40 Years of Support, Encouragement, and Leadership. My hope for this year is that we will continue to work together to meet the original goals of this Association by honoring the women that have helped paved the way for us, leaning on the current leaders in our profession, and supporting those just entering it.

Our primary goals this year will be to promote the interests of women attorneys in our State through professional education, supportive mentoring, and pro-active encouragement. As in the past, we will strive to always include one hour of approved CLE credit in our membership meetings. We will also continue working to strengthen our Mentoring Program and the  Women’s Student Bar Associations within the law schools of Mississippi College and the University of Mississippi to help provide necessary support and encouragement to our young female attorneys and law students.

But, I also realize those of us that have been practicing for a while need support and encouragement too. So, we will do more to ensure that all of our members make new friends and new colleagues. For the first time, we will host a “speed-networking” event during which attendees will share their professional backgrounds and business goals with multiple others in a short period of time.

This will allow us all to practice our “elevator speech” but will also serve a dual networking/social purpose for our members and other attendees. We will also once again host a Holiday Mix and Mingle, multiple Socials (in our Jackson, North and South membership regions), and partner with other community and bar associations for various events. Last – but certainly not least – our year will conclude with our Ninth Annual Day of Leadership in May, 2017.

Finally, I am convinced there is still more we can do to facilitate increased leadership opportunities for women in our Bar, in our communities and other beneficial organizations, and in our firms or other professional endeavors. Several prior years’ themes have focused on “Unity.” I encourage each of you to support your fellow female colleagues, mentor a young lawyer, and do what you can to pro-actively promote (literally and figuratively) other women in our profession. Our country and our State have made great strides in the right direction recently and we must continue this forward progress. I am convinced that through unity – working together – we will continue to see changes in the perspective of others and this will result in even more and better leadership roles for women.

I look forward to working with this year’s Board of Directors and seeing each of you at our membership luncheons and other events. Our current Calendar is under the Events tab above and will be updated throughout the year. Whether you are based in Jackson, North or South Mississippi, I hope that you will attend as many of our events as possible and please invite your women colleagues, former classmates and friends to attend an event with you. The Board of Directors has set a goal to increase our membership to at least 200 by the end of this membership year, and we can do this – together.  I thank you again for allowing me to serve as your President. If you ever have any questions about membership or any suggestions for how we may better serve the goals we have set for this Association, please feel free to contact me at wellard@bakerdonelson.com or send an email to our general address, mswomenlawyers@gmail.com.

Sincerely,

Wendy Huff Ellard, President
Mississippi Women Lawyers’ Association

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