Diversity & Inclusion

Alston & Bird embraces diversity and inclusion at all levels of the firm and seeks out the best individuals to join our team. Our unique culture is enhanced through diversity of not only race and gender, but includes members of the LGBTQ+ community, generational differences, cultural differences and talented people of varying backgrounds and experiences. In order to provide leadership, structure and accountability to these efforts, we have created a committee foundation throughout the firm to implement these ideas and continually educate our attorneys and staff.

The Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee provides direction and oversight to Regional Diversity Committees that, in turn, implement ideas and programs in each office. A Diversity Task Force works with the Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee and the Regional Diversity Committees to promote diversity awareness through events, recognition and celebrations.

The initiatives proposed and encouraged by the Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee strive to bring awareness and understanding of differences to our employees. The Committee ensures the firm recognizes, utilizes and celebrates differences, and cultivates the pipeline of women, minorities and members of the LGBTQ+  community interested in the legal profession while promoting the retention and advancement of all employees.

Steering Committee

The Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee is chaired by our Diversity & Inclusion Partner, Angela Payne James, who works directly with the firm’s Managing Partner, and is responsible for supporting and enhancing the firm’s diversity and inclusion efforts. Angela works with the committee, composed of attorneys and business staff from all of our offices, to support and foster diversity and inclusion initiatives throughout the firm. Together, Angela and the steering committee members are dedicated to enabling meaningful, long-term changes that ensure that the firm is second to none in attracting, developing, nourishing and retaining the most talented professionals without regard to race, ethnicity, gender, creed, sexual orientation, age, or social or geographic background.

Committee Members:

Angela Payne James, Chair

Emily Costin, Co-Chair, Women’s Initiative Committee
Sarah Ernst, Co-Chair, Women’s Initiative Committee
Brennan Fulton, Human Resources & Diversity Manager
Emily Leeson, Direct of Attorney Professional Development
Rodney Miller, Director of Business Information Governance
Liz Price, Chief Talent Partner
Erin Springer, Director of Attorney Hiring
Michael Stephens, Director of Human Resources & Diversity
Claristine Pinckney, Co-Chair, Connecting Through Diversity
Claudine Woods, Co-Chair, Connecting Through Diversity
Janine Brown, Co-Chair, Atlanta
Derin Dickerson, Co-Chair, Atlanta
Kristin Hinson, Co-Chair, Charlotte
Antone Little, Co-Chair, Charlotte
Daniella Main, Co-Chair, Dallas/Fort Worth
Dennis Garris, Co-Chair, Washington, D.C.
Ted Kang, Co-Chair, Washington, D.C.
Mike Newton, Chair, Silicon Valley
Meryl Diamond, Co-Chair, New York
William Hao, Co-Chair, New York
James Sullivan, Co-Chair, New York
Ashley Menser, Co-Chair, Research Triangle
Allie Oelhafen, Co-Chair, Research Triangle
James Abe, Co-Chair, Los Angeles
Elizabeth Sperling, Co-Chair, Los Angeles
Greg Christianson, Chair, San Francisco

Women’s Initiative 

The Women’s Initiative, a committee of the Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee, is composed of women partners, counsel and senior associates from each office. The Women’s Initiative, co-chaired by two senior partners, provides internal and external opportunities and events for women in the firm to meet, share experiences and build their careers. The primary goals include promotion and advancement of women attorneys within the firm. To that end, we sponsor various opportunities for which all attorneys may participate that focus on promoting client development or firm leadership skills. The Women's Initiative also serves as a sounding board and resource toward maintaining, updating and evolving firm policies, such as Alston & Bird’s Alternative Career Path and parental leave policies. In that regard, the Women’s Initiative has also formed an outreach network for women returning from maternity leave, composed of other attorney moms, to assist in the transition back to the office following leave.

WI Committee Chairs: Emily Costin & Sarah Ernst

Connecting Through Diversity

The mission of Connecting Through Diversity is supporting the Firm’s commitment to diversity awareness by providing opportunities for understanding and learning through events, recognition and celebration.  Connecting Through Diversity is made up of volunteer staff members in each location, and this group collaborates along with members of the Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee and Executive Staff to recommend firmwide programming and events.

Each year we celebrate Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, LGBT Pride Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, and Native American Heritage Month. Exploring our history as well as modern day events helps us gain a deeper understanding of each other, our clients, and the rich tapestry of people who make up our world. Recent programs include:

  • Sports, Race, and Politics: 1936 and Today - Critically acclaimed filmmaker Deborah Riley Draper joined us and spoke about her film “Olympic Pride, American Prejudice,” which tells the untold story of 18 African Americans who defied Hitler and Jim Crow at the 1936 Olympics.
  • Makers: Women in Business - A PBS Documentary about the struggle for women’s equality in the United States in the last fifty years.
  • The Untold History of Korematsu v. United States - In collaboration with the firm’s Pro Bono Committee in recognition of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: a conversation on the Japanese internment of Americans and a discussion of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision Korematsu v. United States (1944).
  • Transgender 101: An Educational Panel Discussion - an open panel discussion moderated by Rick McDermott featuring Peter Barr, Aiden Draper and Candace Cox with a general overview of what Transgender is and isn’t and the challenges they face.
  • America by the Numbers: The New Mad Men - In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, a PBS Documentary reflecting the shifting demographic in the US, and how this impacts advertising.
  • Keepers of the Game – Celebrating Native American Heritage Month, this documentary follows a high school lacrosse team of all Mohawk women as they seek to defeat their crosstown rivals and gain the acceptance of their Native community.

"Diversity and inclusion are core values of the firm, and these programs support and enrich our culture of inclusion. Each program offers the opportunity to connect with coworkers, learn together, and create greater awareness. We celebrate achievements and look for ways to continue growing together."  

- Claristine Pinckney and Claudine Woods, Connecting Through Diversity Co-Chairs

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