Image of DEI conference banner image

DEI professionals grow network, learning opportunities at convening

DEI professionals grow network, learning opportunities at convening

Nov. 30, 2022 - “Creating a Culture of Belonging” was the focus for nearly 50 court diversity, equity, and inclusion professionals who gathered in Atlanta last month for an inaugural DEI convening.

Presented by the Blueprint for Racial Justice with support from the State Justice Institute and hosted by Georgia State University College of Law, the event connected court staff responsible for DEI efforts at both the state and local levels for an in-person meeting that offered panel discussions and presentations ranging from communication and customer service challenges to workforce diversity and inclusion.

“The DEI Convening was important to the work of the Blueprint as it provided DEI professionals an opportunity to observe that they are not in this work alone,” said Edwin Bell, NCSC’s director of racial justice, equity, and inclusion. “This convening showcased an ever-growing network of DEI colleagues from across the nation and the territories, who are available for support, as meaningful efforts commence around the country.”

Convening attendee Monica Kindle started her job with the Maryland Judiciary in March and echoed the value of networking.

“One of the greatest challenges in this field is the feeling of working in isolation as many practitioners are often the only people in their roles and that’s across the field of DEI, not just in state courts,” she said. “The creation of this convening directly addresses that issue by creating a diverse network of collaborators; all from different backgrounds and experience levels, with different skill sets, and some who understand the complexities and nuances of the judicial system and court culture exceedingly well, which are all very valuable assets.”

Not only did Kindle find a new professional network, she also learned about programs like the Massachusetts Trial Court “Signature Counter Experience,” which helps identify challenges staff experience while trying to meet the public’s needs.

“The Massachusetts Trial Court found a way to bring together every court employee - from the bailiffs to their clerks and judges - to learn about how to enhance customer service at every point of the judicial process taking into consideration the lived experiences, culture, and identities of court users through a simulated learning exercise,” said Kindle, who has past DEI and racial justice experience from the public, private, and non-profit sectors. “Not only will this learning experience create a safe, brave, and engaging space for its learners; it will directly impact the lives and experiences of the public and advance justice for all who come to our courts.”

For Lisa Burke, an 18-year employee with the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts, the convening reminded her of the importance of leadership in affecting change.

“We cannot do the work of systemic, organizational, and cultural change without the leadership of chief justices and state court administrators,” said Burke, a diversity, inclusion, and community engagement program officer. “Race equity is not accidental. Working with judges and engaging the community are essential elements to sustaining change and fostering public trust. While advancing procedural fairness, ensuring access to the courts, and supporting the elimination of bias are responsibilities that belong to all of us who work in the judicial branch, it is key to have staff specifically designated as resources on how to advance this work within the culture of courts.”

Like Burke, Bell also said there needs to be a significant commitment from judicial branch leaders to successfully advance the work of DEI professionals in state courts.

“DEI in the courts requires patience and a willingness to build coalitions and relationships to produce sustainable outcomes,” he said. “NCSC will lead these efforts and work nationwide to provide the guidance and support needed by courts to deepen their DEI capacity within their respective judicial systems.”

Applications open for Winter Forms Camp

Is your court struggling with a form or set of forms that isn’t quite hitting the mark? Are you looking for intensive training and technical assistance to make your forms more user-friendly? Winter Forms Camp is here to help!

Following the popular Summer Forms Camp, the winter camp will feature longer sessions, more in-depth work, and collaboration with colleagues in your jurisdiction. NCSC will select a small cohort through a competitive application process for the Winter Camp, which begins in January.

Take advantage of these sessions to help your court, the public and justice partners by offering them standardized, easier to understand and plain language forms. Apply for Winter Forms Camp today! Applications will be accepted through December 13.

NCSC implicit bias report included in new book about strategies to extend justice

An NCSC report on the state of the science of implicit bias for courts, including definitions, research on effective strategies, and guidance for application, is included in the newly published book, “Extending Justice: Strategies to Increase Inclusion and Reduce Bias.”

The NCSC report, “The Evolving Science on Implicit Bias: An Updated Resource for the State Court Community,” was adapted for inclusion in the book, which is a compilation of 26 chapters written by different leaders in the field of implicit bias and provides tools to help achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion in all disciplines including the courts. The original NCSC report was published in 2021 with support from the State Justice Institute.

Learn more about the report and other related work in NCSC’s online Racial Justice resource center today!