I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as president of the MRWBA . The welcoming, supportive, energetic atmosphere of our monthly luncheons, along with a variety of educational and social programs that drew me to volunteer for board service several years ago also helped our membership numbers grow to approximately 225 for the 2014-15 bar year. I look forward to welcoming more new faces to MRWBA, and to continuing the tradition of excellent networking, mentorship, community service, and educational opportunities for our membership.
Our members are an impressive group of successful, involved, and community-minded women. We focus on pulling one another up instead of competing with one another. Our mission statement clearly articulates this core value: “The mission of the Metropolitan Richmond Women’s Bar Association is to support and enhance the professional development of women in the legal profession through education and networking opportunities.” Throughout the history of our organization, we have applied this mission not only to the benefit of our members, but also women outside of the legal profession, through community service, pro bono work, and the publication and distribution of the Domestic Relations Pamphlet.
My theme for the year, “We stand for better. We stand together.” was inspired by the positive impact MRWBA members have on our community, individually and as an organization. MRWBA does good for women in general, not just those on our membership roster. In our jobs, we help other women on an individual level to start businesses, handle family issues, plan their estates, and defend against criminal charges. On the local level, we volunteer in our communities, and we mentor women law students or younger attorneys. On the broader level, we can combine our voices to persuade lawmakers and others in positions of power or authority to take “women’s issues” seriously, because there is simply no such thing as an issue that impacts only women. Our organization can’t cure all ills, but we can create something of a spider web effect, with our members reaching out into the community to effect one small, positive change at a time.
This year, I want to focus on MRWBA as a team of women who stand for better, and stand together – better support for women in poverty or living with domestic violence; better educational opportunities for girls everywhere; better understanding of the unique challenges women fact; and better attitudes toward one another. Many of our luncheon, social, and CLE programs will highlight ways in which we can, through our profession or our personal lives, pull other women up in the same way we build up the other women in our organization. We set an example for our mentees, for new attorneys, and for the legal community. We stand for better, and we stand together.
Melanie A. Friend, Esquire