National Bar Association, 1225 11th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
June 10, 2008
NBA President Vanita Banks Named To 2008 Ebony List of Most Influential Black Americans
For the 45th consecutive year, Ebony Magazine presented its Annual list of "The Most
Influential Black Americans" in its May issue. NBA President Vanita Banks was named
to the list of most influential organization leaders. Banks is the 65th President
of the NBA, the ninth female, and only the second from corporate America.
The criteria for this prestigious recognition includes serving as the chief executive
officer of an organization that commands widespread influence beyond its field, and
has ongoing programs and initiatives affecting the vital interests of African Americans.
Banks is Counsel with Allstate Insurance Company, where she leads complex class action
and insurance litigation.
Founded in 1925, the National Bar Association is the oldest and largest national
association of predominately African American lawyers, judges, legal scholars and
law students in the world, and represents the interests of over 40,000 lawyers .
President Bank's Inaugural Address
Thank you, I am humbled to have this opportunity to be the 65th President of the
National Bar Association, the 9th female President, and only the second female from
a Fortune 500 company. The first was the great Algenita Scott Davis. I stand on the
shoulders of so many great lawyers including our founders whose spirits are certainly
with us this evening. To honor their memories and achievements, I must speak their
C. Francis Stradford Jessie N. Baker William H. Haynes and George S. Adams from Chicago L.
Amasa Knox and Charles H. Calloway from Kansas City, Missouri Gertrude E. Rush (our
sole female founder) Charles P. Howard, Sr. George H. Woodson James B. Morris and S.
Joe Brown from Des Moines, Iowa .
After being rejected by the American Bar Association, these visionary founders established
the NBA in 1925, with a mission that is still relevant and vibrant today.
For over 80 years, the National Bar Association has led the crusade for justice and
equality, and has been the legal conscience of America.
Thank you Judge Timothy Evans for swearing me in.
I also want to thank the incomparable Judge Arnette Hubbard for introducing me, and
for blazing the trail enabling me to be here this evening.
It was an honor to serve under the leadership of President Linnes Finney. Linnes
has that uncanny ability to keep his head when all around him are losing theirs and
blaming it on him.
I am very lucky to have a wonderful team of people around me who love, advise, counsel,
support and nurture me-
My family is here this evening and I would like to introduce them to you. First,
my mother, Jacqueline Banks.
My mother had a single focus when we were growing up - to raise 3 productive, good
citizens who give back to their community. She accomplished that- she produced one
lawyer, a pharmacist, and a teacher.
My sister, brother-in-law and nephew, Avis, Kern, and Kern III Rash are here from
California. My brother, sister-in-law and nephew, Carlos, Jamyce and Curtis are here
My grade school class mate and her husband Karla and Stanley Bibbs are here as well.
Would you all please stand.
My Allstate family is here. Allstate has been a proud sponsor of the National Bar
Association since 1996 - 12 consecutive years. Allstate is committed to increasing
diversity in the legal profession. My dear friend, Donna Johnson, and I have traveled
this NBA path together since the 1996 Convention in Chicago. I could not serve as
your President without the support of my General Counsel, Mick McCabe. Mick, please
stand. Other Allstate officers joining us are Mary McGinn, Bill Vainisi and Steve
Ihm. My colleague, Charis Johnson served as Co-Chair of this Convention. Would Charis
and all Allstate attorneys here this evening please stand. I want to thank Sonia
Waiters for her personal dedication to me and her friendship.
I want to also thank Associate Dean Alfreda Robinson. Dean Robinson and I have talked
almost every day in preparation for this Bar Year. As most of you know, she is the
reason that the NBA has more influence than the ABA on judicial nomination and selection.
Dean Robinson will serve as my Chief Counsel. Sonia and Alfreda please stand.
Most of you have met my husband James. James is my constant supporter and soul mate,
and we have been collaborating for 30 years now. James, I love you.
Please join me in welcoming American Bar Association President-Elect Bill Neukom.
Bill, please stand and be recognized.
I want to spend just a few minutes sharing with you how we plan to build on the grand
legacy of the NBA. First, President Finney has referenced passing the Torch to me
several times this week, and I have decided to continue carrying the torch with our
2007-2008 Bar Theme-- "Carrying the Torch: Power Through Collaboration".
We are living in the best of times and the Worst of Times, and it is clear that our
domestic and international communities are in crisis. For example:
We are engaged in a historic Presidential campaign where the 2 front running candidates
for the Democratic nomination are a woman and an African American;
Young leaders like Corey Booker, mayor of Newark, New Jersey, and Kwame Kilpatrick,
mayor of Detroit, Michigan, are emerging with a mission to revitalize our inner city
Clearly, there is much work to be done. I will work hard to ensure that this Bar
Year is about solutions to the problems affecting us as lawyers and the issues affecting
We will also focus on the critical issue of maintaining and increasing the Pipeline
of African American lawyers at every stage. I am asking every member to identify
and mentor 1 youth that is not a family member, and is in need of guidance and support.
This is something that all of us in this room can do. I have always believed that
being a lawyer is not just a profession, but a calling. In turn, we are called upon
to lift the next generation.
As I said, this Bar Year will focus on solutions, remaining proactive and vigilant.
In conclusion, in the words of Barbara Jordan:
"The imperative is to define what is right - and do it."
WE ARE THE NATIONAL BAR ASSOCIATION, AND WE WILL ENDURE AND THRIVE TODAY AND FOREVER!