President's Message: To all those who made the ambitious achievable…

  • August 30, 2021
  • Charlene Theodore

When asked in August 2020 what I’d like to be able to say in a year’s time about my presidency, I replied, I hope my term as president is a chapter of the OBA’s history that will put the profession forever on the right road on the issues in our workplaces we have been collectively grappling with for far too long.”

Twelve months into a page-turner of a presidency, I am proud to see that early aspiration realised; that earnest ambition transformed into awesome achievement beyond even my own imagining. And, while I can now reflect on my contribution to the OBA story of innovation, inclusion and advocacy with enormous gratitude and gratification, I do so recognizing that the ground we gained, we gained together – as a community of compassionate, resourceful and resilient members with common goals and unshakeable determination.

Thank you to those who helped us find new ways to connect and foster camaraderie, discovery, and, fun; who took part in OBA Community events, including mocktail mock-trials, family paint exercises, cooking demonstrations, tastings, book clubs, and more; who shared advice and support through the Parent and Caregiver Network and Wellness Hub; who inspired future legal leaders by joining in our Blocko event, speed-mentoring programs, and Law Day activities; who made a difference in a difficult year by volunteering through the Tenant Lawyer Connection Portal and the Black Business Lawyers Portal.

Thank you to the lawyers, diversity and inclusion leaders, authors scholars and agents of change who, as guests on our Point Counterpoint Series and Work that Works podcast, helped us map out a productive path toward healthier, more diverse, flexible and thriving workplaces; and to the listeners who transformed those insights into action, using the complementary programs and resources to lead their own workplace reinventions and cultivate a culture that invites and inspires everyone’s best work.

Thank you to those within the justice sector and beyond who embraced the Not Another Decade mission to make meaningful, measurable progress in ending racial injustice; who’ve pledged to adopt, with accountability, one key performance target each year for the next ten years, in the interests of driving unyielding and enduring equality in our organizations, our institutions, our systems and our society.

When I became OBA president during a time of great disruption, social unrest and reckoning on anti-Black racism, I felt the weight of that responsibility keenly. My own relative isolation, operating from what I naively assumed would be a very temporary command centre in my kitchen, was a concern if not outright challenge. As it turns out, inclusion– as it so often is – was the answer.

I heard from many a Work that Works podcast guest a message that has been borne out by my experience with this dauntless and dynamic OBA community: if you invite people, they will come; if you ask people, they will tell you; if you are authentic, open, and transparent in acting on that input and in all your efforts to do better in translating best of intentions into tangible outcomes, people will join you.

I am grateful to all of you who showed up, time and time again, and who stood shoulder to shoulder with me on this extraordinary journey every step of the way.