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Women Leaders – Promoting Equality in the Justice System

By November 20, 2023News

On Friday, November 10 UCLI had the unique opportunity to host a workshop for a group of esteemed visitors. The workshop was titled “Women Leaders – Promoting Equality in the Justice System; A Regional Project for the Near East and North Africa.” The workshop participants were invited to the United States under the auspices of the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. The State Department invited UCLI to host a half-day workshop that focused on leadership development for women in the legal profession. Together with the Utah State Bar, who provided a venue and expertise, we welcomed four women from Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia and had a great day together learning from respected members of Utah’s legal community. 

First, workshop participants heard from Michelle Oldroyd, Director of Professional Education and Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer at the Utah State Bar, who provided an introductory overview of the topic. Her remarks were followed by Session 1: Equality in Utah’s Justice System. Jon Wayas, Associate Director of the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion, moderated a panel discussion with Melinda Bowen, Attorney at Snow Christensen & Martineau; Jennifer Yim, Administrative Director at the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole; and Martha Knudson, Executive Director of Utah State Bar’s Well-Being Committee for the Legal Profession. They discussed challenges and to equality in Utah and spoke about principles for achieving greater parity for women, no matter where in the world we are. Session 2 was on the topic of Equal Access to Education and we heard from Mr John Arthur, 2021 Utah Teacher of the Year at Meadowlark Elementary; Barbara Melendez, Director of Diversity Equity and Belonging at Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School; and Isabel Moreno, Director Of Admissions And Financial Aid at University of Utah S. J. Quinney College of Law. Each brought a great perspective about the importance of education as an equalizer and shared ideas of how to engage more girls and women at the K-12 and higher education levels. Finally, we were honored to hear from Justice Paige Petersen, Justice of the Utah Supreme Court for Session 3 on the topic of The Changing Face of Leadership. Justice Petersen spoke about changing laws for women throughout the history of the United States and discussed how the landscape in Utah has been changing in recent decades. A robust and interactive discussion and lunch were then enjoyed by all. 

UCLI expresses its gratitude to the Utah State Bar for allowing us to meet in the Law and Justice Center and for its excellent hospitality. We are also grateful to Utah Global Diplomacy for facilitating this exchange. Finally, thank you to the outstanding participants and presenters – we loved getting to know you and were honored to gather to discuss important topics and learn from one another. 

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