New OBA President to Focus on Work that Works in Legal Profession

  • September 03, 2020

Charlene Theodore Becomes the Association’s First Black President

TORONTO – The Ontario Bar Association’s new president Charlene Theodore is ready to support the profession through these challenging times with two groundbreaking initiatives.  As many lawyers and firms are re-imagining their workplaces, Theodore’s Work that Works initiative will focus on providing the ideas, tools and know-how to build productive, profitable, modern, healthy and inclusive work environments for lawyers.  The second initiative, Not Another Decade, sets an ambitious agenda for tackling inequality in the justice sector and beyond over the next 10 years.

Theodore, an in-house counsel whose career has focused on labour and employment law, considers strong workplaces to be the key to optimizing lawyers’ potential.

“Our best chance for a just society is lawyers at their best,” Theodore says. “They need work that works, workplaces that allow them to reach their full potential and send them fighting fit into the world to help strengthen the economy, fight for justice, serve families and insist on equality.

“The OBA supported the profession through the global crisis with the innovative tools and relevant education that were required.  We are ready to help them succeed in the next normal. The OBA will provide meaningful ideas, tools and education to help the profession build legal workplaces that deliver better access to justice without sacrificing feasibility. Work that Works means enhanced productivity, embracing next-level innovation, driving client and lawyer satisfaction, and ensuring unyielding equality and inclusion.”

As the OBA’s first Black president, Theodore embraces her role in improving equality, diversity and inclusion in the justice sector and beyond.  Not Another Decade will involve the OBA working with the sector to meet a new target or key performance indicator every year for the next decade in order to meaningfully move the dial on equality for Black and Indigenous people and people of colour. The initiative will focus on the justice sector, but the OBA will look to partner with associations in other sectors to encourage similar initiatives.

“The coincidence of my presidency coming at a time of reckoning over anti-Black racism is a responsibility I don’t intend to ignore and an opportunity I don’t intend to waste,” she says. “The OBA will employ our professional advocacy and education departments and work with our motivated members and partner firms to move the markers. The OBA is throwing our hat over the wall on ending racial inequality and then providing a road map for going after it.”


The Ontario Bar Association’s 2020-21 Board of Directors

President: Charlene Theodore

Vice-President: Karen Perron

2nd Vice-President: Ranjan Agarwal

Treasurer: Jeffrey Percival

Immediate Past-President: Colin Stevenson

Secretary: Kelly McDermott

Chair of Professional Development: Wade Poziomka

Chair of Sections: Adrian Ishak

Regional Director – Central East: Derek Friend

Regional Director – Central West: Kiran Gill

Regional Director – Central South: Erica Lamont

Regional Director – East: Craig Stehr

Regional Director – Northeast: Trevor Kestle

Regional Director – Northwest: Kathleen Commisso

Regional Director – Southwest: Doug Ferguson

Regional Director – Toronto: Signa Daum Shanks

Student Chair: Avechi Chimara

Young Lawyers Division – Central Chair: Selina Mamo

Young Lawyers Division – East Chair: Susana M. Lee

Young Lawyers Division – North Chair: Samuel Crowe

Young Lawyers Division – Southwest Chair: Madelaine Hofford


About the Ontario Bar Association
Established in 1907, the OBA is the largest voluntary legal association in Ontario representing over 16,000 lawyers, judges, law professors and law students. The OBA provides continuing professional development and advocates for improvements to the law in the interests of the profession and public.

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Michael Speers

Media & Communications Specialist