By Dolores Dorsainvil
The J. Franklyn Bourne Women’s Committee held its annual scholarship tea on Sunday, April 15, 2018 at Martin’s Camelot in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. What an amazing event! Almost 240 lawyers, judges, elected officials, and members of the local community attended to support our annual event. To
give you some history, the annual tea was a tradition started by The Black Women’s Bar Association of Suburban Maryland, Inc. in 2006 to recognize the continued path of excellence of women of color in judicial positions and provide scholarships to aspiring young women attending local law schools; the J. Franklyn Bourne Women's Committee continues the tradition.
The crowd received a warm introduction from the J. Franklyn Bourne President, the Honorable Holly Reed and the Co-Chair of the Women’s Committee, Dolores Dorsainvil. There were many notable dignitaries and politicians in attendance that were recognized, as well as those who are currently running for office in the upcoming election.
The audience enjoyed a delicious three-course lunch accompanied by various teas and coffees. During the luncheon, the Women’s Committee presented the 2018 Mabel Hubbard Legacy Award to past J. Franklyn Bourne President, Elizabeth M. Hewlett, Esq. The award, named after the late Honorable Mabel E. Hubbard, the first African-American woman appointed to the bench in Maryland, recognizes an individual who has tirelessly served the local community. Ms. Hewlett blessed the audience with a spirited speech on the civic duties of the organization to assist with ensuring that Prince George’s County is politically represented by individuals who have our best interest. The attendees heard remarks from the Honorable Fern Flanagan Saddler, Associate Judge of the Superior Court for the District of Columbia who shared her pearls of wisdom for success to the younger lawyers in the audience. Ms. Tammarrah Addison served as our poetess, and shared her latest work of inspiration encouraging the hard work of women of color in our communities.
The keynote address was given by Paulette Brown, Esq., a partner at the law firm of Locke Lord, LLP, and the first African-American woman to serve as President of the American Bar Association, the world’s largest voluntary professional organization. Ms. Brown spoke about diversity and inclusion in the profession and provided concrete advice to women of color. The Women’s Committee also presented awards to women of color recently appointed to the judiciary. This year, we presented awards to Judge Dana Middleton – Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Judge Donine Carrington – Circuit Court for Charles County, Judge Jill Cummins – Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Judge Judy Lynn Woodall – Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, Judge Aileen Elizabeth Oliver – District Court for Montgomery County, Judge Cheri Simpkins Gardner – District Court for Prince George’s County, and Magistrate Bibi Berry – Montgomery County. Each judge was given a trophy featuring the lady of justice statue.
The tea concluded with a presentation of scholarship awards given to three women law school students who are each accomplishing outstanding goals and who wish to continue to serve the local community following graduation. The students, one from the University of Maryland - Carey School of Law, and two from the University of the District of Columbia – David A. Clarke School of Law, were each given $1,000 to assist with their education. They all gave heartfelt and moving acceptance speeches to the Committee.
This year, the attendees enjoyed jazz musical selection by the jazz group, Bossa Souls and had an opportunity to visit with and purchase items from the many vendors in attendance. There were a wide variety of vendors that had hats, jewelry, women’s accessories, fun fashion, artisan brittle, handmade dolls, plus-size fashion as well as handmade skirts, dresses, and African garments.
The tea would not have been made possible without the generous support from our sponsors! This year, we were fortunate to have three platinum level sponsors – Boston Law Group, LLC, Karen R. Toles - Prince George’s County Council, District 7, and the Prince George’s County Planning Board and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. There were several Gold, Silver and Friend level sponsors that contributed to the success of this event. We look forward to seeing many more of you next year at the 2019 Annual Scholarship Tea!