Archive for the ‘Community Service’ Category.

• Chamber Recognizes Warner Attorney for Diversity Efforts (updated)

Grand Rapids Area Chamber of CommerceThe Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce has selected Warner Norcross & Judd’s Rodney Martin as its Volunteer of the Month for October.

Martin is the firm’s Diversity Partner and chair of its Financial Services Group, as well as cochair of the Privacy and Information Security Taskforce.

Jeanne Englehart, president of the chamber, said Martin was selected for the honor based on his dedication to and support of the Multiracial Association of Professionals and the Regional Cultural Competency Advisory Council. He is the current chair of the MAP Advisory Council and participated in the planning for the chamber’s Minority Intern Welcome Reception.

“Your commitment to the MAP program and your involvement with the Regional Cultural Competency Advisory Council has been invaluable,” Englehart said. “You truly deserve this recognition.”

Martin will be honored at the chamber’s Oct. 21 board meeting and featured in the organization’s newsletter, The Chamber News.


Here are the remarks Rodney Martin made to the Chamber’s Board of Directors at its meeting on October 21:

I believe that we in Grand Rapids allow ourselves an easy out when we talk about recruiting and retaining employees of color.  We often blame our inability to attract and retain diverse candidates on the fact that we are recruiting for Grand Rapids.  In doing so, we perpetuate the self-defeating myth that Grand Rapids is a community that could not appeal to persons of color. 

That excuse doesn’t wash, however.  It doesn’t wash for at least two reasons:

First, it paints a inaccurate picture of our community.  The Grand Rapids Public Museum reports that over 60 ethnic groups call Grand Rapids home.  Their families came from all over the world to settle in west Michigan.  It is this rich diversity that attracted to locate 400 new jobs in our community.  Nearly 20 percent of our population is made up of persons of color.  While that is below the national average, it still very significant, and the number is growing.  The key for the Grand Rapids Business Community is to tap into the richness of our diverse backgrounds so we can present to new employees of color a welcoming community in which they can quickly feel at home.  And that is the mission of MAP.

The second reason this old excuse won’t wash is simply that if we continue as a community to perpetuate the myth and satisfy ourselves with the status quo, we will quickly find ourselves less and less able to compete in the new economy — a global, knowledge-based economy. If we want to compete in the global economy, we have to build a community that celebrates its diversity, a community that welcomes talented people of every race and color and allows them to contribute to our region’s future and to share in its success.

It is incumbent upon us as business leaders to refuse to continue to use our community as an excuse for our failure to recruit and retain persons of color.  We must instead recognize that our diversity is a great resource that can fuel our economic success.  We have to increase our awareness and appreciation of our cultural diversity and improve our ability to use that diversity as an asset to our region.  The Chamber and the West Michigan Chamber Coalition recognize this and are actively addressing it through the work of the Regional Cultural Competency Advisory Council, on which I am honored to serve.

I am grateful to the Chamber for its foresight and for its leadership, and for giving me the opportunity to contribute through MAP and the Regional Cultural Competency Advisory Council.  And I appreciate very much this recognition as volunteer of the month.  

• Pictures of the Central High School Mock Trial Team

Madelaine Lane’s sister took some pictures of the Central High School Mock Trial team, which we have shared with you below.

Mock Trial Team at Counsel Tablejaccuse.jpgMock Trial Team in lobby

• Central High Mock Trial Team Earns Honorable Mention

Students at counsel tableCongratulations to the Grand Rapids Central High School Mock Trial team, which received an honorable mention in Regional Mock Trial Competition this weekend.  Coached by Yvette Bradley, Madelaine Lane, Scott Carvo, and Sarah Riley, the students conducted two trials – one as the prosecution and the other as the defense.  Students played the roles of the attorneys and the witnesses.

This was only the second year that Central High School fielded a mock trial team.  Last year’s team also received an Honorable Mention.  But, the coaches could take special satisfaction in the result this year because, as a result of schools scheduling issues, this year’s team had only one and a half months to prepare for the competition.  Most teams begin preparation in September.

• Volunteer Readers Needed for MLK Essay Contest

In connection with 2008 Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service activities, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP is sponsoring its Third Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest. The contest, which is open to all sixth grade students within the Grand Rapids Public School District, encourages students to think about how Dr. King’s legacy of peace and justice applies to the world in which they live.

We need volunteers from the law firm to read and rank the entries between December 26 and January 4.  Each of the entries will be judged according to a rubric supplied by the Grand Rapids Public Schools. If you would be willing to help, email Rodney Martin or Robin Keith.

All contest winners, including honorable mentions, and their parents will be acknowledged at the Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day Community Peace Program on January 21, 2008, at 12:30 p.m. (following the Community Peace March), and again at the Annual Celebration Program that evening at 6:30 p.m. Both events will be held at the Grand Rapids Community College Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse.  The Grand Prize winning student will be invited to read his/her essay at both programs.  Warner Norcross & Judd will present the contest winners with prizes and certificates at the Grand Rapids Public Schools Board of Education meeting the evening of Monday, February 4, 2008.