TALI Scholarships: 2022-2023 Recipients

Executive Leadership Academy Recipient: Kellie Ware

Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up, where did you go to college?
I grew up right here in Pittsburgh, in East Liberty. I went to Pittsburgh Public Schools, including Rogers CAPA before they combined, and Peabody High School. I went to The University of Pittsburgh for undergrad and majored in Applied Developmental Psychology.

Why did you decide to go to law school? What motivated you to be a lawyer?
Well, the seed to become a lawyer was planted while doing mock trial in high school. It was something I enjoyed and an area where I excelled, where both the logical, detail-oriented strategy loving parts of my brain worked with not against my inner performer. At 17, seven more years of school sounded like an eternity, so I went directly to Pitt, graduated and started a family. I spent the first leg of my career in non-profit community based work, then as a tipstaff, I really saw that the connective tissue to everything I cared about was found in the law and policy. Working in the courts, I found lawyers to be regular, accessible people, something I certainly didn’t see growing up and that gave me more confidence that I could do it. As the “hope” of Obama’s election gave way to more racialized turmoil, I felt that it was now something that I had to do in order to gain the tools necessary to advance the changes I need to see in the world.

Why do you love Pittsburgh?
First, I love Pittsburgh because my family is here, it’s where I’m from, it’s home. We’ve got culture, sports, a midwestern friendliness and excellent food which are all important. But beyond that, I think that Pittsburgh has a lot of opportunity, not in the obvious way. It’s not the “move to Pittsburgh and be successful” or “stay in Pittsburgh and be successful” kind of opportunity at least not for diverse folks. It’s the kind of opportunity you find if you’re someone who is interested in making change. It’s got big problems which means there’s opportunity to make a lot of positive impact, pretty much across the board. We’ve got substantial resources as a city and a region, one of the most significant are really amazing people who truly care and are giving it their best shot. Pittsburgh is small enough to kind of wrap your arms around the issues you’re grappling, and values interpersonal relationships in a way that will help you to find friends in arms to do the work with you.

What does this opportunity to be a TALI Executive Leader mean to you?
The opportunity to be a TALI Executive Leader means joining the membership of an elite group of Black professionals in Pittsburgh, many of whom I know and respect deeply. Iron sharpens iron and it’s an opportunity to hone my skills and professional acumen so that I can be more effective in my work and expand my tools and network. TALI is also an investment in myself and my professional development to help me identify and fully take advantage of opportunities in front of me and to manifest others throughout my career.

What can the legal community do better to support the growth and advancement of Black lawyers?
As a Pittsburgh native, a Black lawyer, and especially as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director for the ACBA, I could write a full dissertation on this. In the interest of time, I’ll share my top four, because it’s my favorite number: The legal community can invest more in young Black folks before they have the opportunity to become lawyers to grow the ranks of Black lawyers in the future. We need to pour into and support our law students of course, but in light of the lack of diversity in law schools nationwide, we must reach back even further to create a more diverse law school population in the first place. The need for intentional mentoring, sponsoring and support doesn’t end at graduation, as Black lawyers enter and ascend your ranks they need that same support and engagement. Black lawyers are subject matter experts, not just in the Black experience but in their chosen practice area. Engage and support them in those areas of expertise and their interests, not only when something pertains to their identity. Acknowledge the time that you may be asking them to invest in those identity spaces and find ways to value their contributions there, they cannot be your posterchild participating in every DEI space and meet the billable hours of their counterparts not burdened with those additional responsibilities. Lastly, is to really consider retiring the idea of “culture fit” within your organization. By definition, when you are Black, in a profession that is only 4.3% Black nationally you are not of the majority culture and you are unlikely to “fit” within that culture. Culture fit can scream assimilation and identity loss, it places an unfair burden on the Black lawyer in question and distracts from the job they were hired to do. The organization loses too, as they don’t benefit from the richness of the Black lawyers experiences and perspectives when they are not comfortable enough to bring their full selves to their work or workspace.

Who are your legal heroes?
When I think of legal heroes, my brain goes not to all of the great legal minds and litigators and judges although there are a great many that I admire. I go instead to the model plaintiffs who upended their lives to become the name and fact pattern of a movement. All of the lawyering in the world can’t manufacture the perfect case or the courage necessary to be a Brown, a Roe or Obergefell, they give us ways to challenge the status quo and that makes them heroes to me.

Who is your favorite fictional lawyer?
While I’m pretty sure we never saw her in a courtroom, I’d have to say Claire Huxtable. She definitely used her legal skills at home though, her quick wit and measured responses helped to form what I think of as a lawyer as they go about their daily life. She had a thriving career, a great home life and was involved in community. It’s an incredibly high bar, but she’s my favorite. Followed by Maxine Shaw from Living Single, who was a brilliant lawyer with great friends, but kind of a mess everywhere else. But Maxine was so incredibly sharp and quick and funny and showed that other side, that maybe lawyers are accessible people too that are getting their lives together one lane at a time.

Do you have anything else you want the Pittsburgh legal community to know about you?
As a profession, lawyers play an outsized role in how the world works in everything from writing and interpreting sweeping public policy to the language on the back of your receipt and everything in between. To get to a more equitable world, the group that creates all of this, us, lawyers, needs to better reflect the diversity of the world around us. And that’s why I’m here to help to really move the needle on diversifying the legal field. To use this position’s relative privilege to take up space, make connections, open and hold open doors. I’d like to warn the legal community that this work will be uncomfortable sometimes, but if it’s never uncomfortable, it’s not growth, and it’s not good DEI work.

Emerging Leaders Program Recipient: Derrick Maultsby Jr.

Tell us
 a little about yourself. Where did you grow up, where did you go to college?I grew up east of Pittsburgh in Monroeville, PA. I also spent time in Fort Lauderdale, FL and Scottsdale, AZ during high school. My mother was a social worker most of my childhood and currently serves as Assistant Deputy Director of Children Youth and Families for the Allegheny County Department of Human Services. I have a younger brother who also serves our community through social work.

Answering the question of where I went to college is always interesting. I attended several different universities on football scholarships, including Jackson State University, Eastern Arizona College, and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. An injury my junior year led me to step away from football and return home to finish my undergraduate degree at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Why did you decide to go to law school? What motivated you to become a lawyer?
For most of my life, I had no idea I wanted to be a lawyer or even go to law school. When I transferred to IUP and was no longer a student-athlete, I started to really think about my future and what I wanted. I got more involved on campus and began doing work through the philanthropy council and competing on the debate team. Through those experiences, I found that some form of a career in the legal field interested me.

Why do you love Pittsburgh?
Pittsburgh is home and my family is here, so loving it is a little easier for me. However, I can never talk about Pittsburgh and my love for it without acknowledging that a lot of black professionals who move here find it hard to love. That plays a huge part in why I have chosen to stay in Pittsburgh and build my career here. I am committed to being a small piece in trying to change what the landscape for black professionals looks like in Pittsburgh.

What does this opportunity to be a TALI Emerging Leader mean to you?
It is a great honor and privilege to participate in this program with the support of the PLDIC. As a first-generation lawyer, opportunities to learn from other black business professionals who have walked a similar path to the one I am on is invaluable. Mentorship and education are key aspects to success, and we are not always given those opportunities in our careers. So, this is an opportunity I want to make the most of.

What can the legal community do better to support the growth and advancement of Black lawyers?
Two words come to mind: mentorship and endorsement. I have been fortunate to have a great start to my career, but without my mentors and those who have endorsed me, I would not be in the position I am in. My mentors have provided me with invaluable insights that have made navigating a law firm, and the legal field in general, much easier. My endorsers have referred me to potential clients or given me work themselves, allowing me to get a start in developing a book of business.

Who are your legal heroes?
Representative John Lewis, while not a lawyer, is probably my biggest legal hero. His activism and role in our government over the course of his life had a profound impact on advancing the civil rights of black people in this country. His work has inspired most of my community service and efforts to find ways to utilize my resources to benefit our people. In fact, I have the term “Good Trouble” tattooed on my forearm as a reminder to myself to always heed his advice and not be afraid to ruffle the feathers of old institutions not exactly designed for me.

Who is your favorite fictional lawyer?
This is a tough one! It is a tie between Denzel Washington’s Joe Miller in the film “Philadelphia” and Delroy Lindo’s Adrian Boseman in the television show “The Good Fight.”

Do you have anything else you want the Pittsburgh legal community to know about you?
I want to be a resource for everyone. Whether it’s coffee, lunch, or a Zoom call, I am open to meeting up with anyone and providing any assistance or guidance I can. I think we should all be here for each other in this way, and we should all do our best to know one another because there are not that many diverse lawyers in this city. We are stronger together.

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