Actively seek collaboration with local communities and organizations comprised of diverse racial, gender, age, ethnic, national, disability and sexual orientation backgrounds in support of our mission of equity and harmony

Judge uses books, art to foster inclusion and kindness

Circuit Judge Charles Williams returned to the classroom to read to elementary students and led a group from the SCBA's Young Lawyers Division on a tour of a juried art exhibit. Both activities were part of Embracing Our Differences year-round program using books and art to foster conversations about inclusion, kindness and respect.

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This is an image of a man and a group of children.

Judge Williams honored as ‘trailblazer’ by professional organization

At a luncheon on January 26, 2023, students from area high schools, court staff, judges and members of the legal community learned about the five trailblazing lawyers showcased in The Florida Bar's Path to Unity Project. Then Judge Charles William, the program's master of ceremonies, was surprised with a portrait of his own.

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This is an image of a man standing next to a painted portrait of himself.

Bar Associations honor two ‘pathfinders in the law’

Circuit Judge Rochelle Curley and Senior Judge Janette Dunnigan (Ret.) were honored as “Pathfinders in the Law” on January 19. Presented by the Manatee chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers (FAWL) and the Sarasota Manatee chapter of the Fred G. Minnis, Sr. Bar Association, the sitting judge and senior judge received recognition for their work as jurists and trailblazers for other professional women. The event coincided with The Florida Bar’s Path to Unity Project.

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Judge Williams's volunteerism helps kids fill buckets

Judge Williams sits behind a group of students in a classroom holding a book.

On November 15, Judge Charles Williams was pleased to volunteer at Gocio Elementary School for the annual Embracing Our Differences organization's Bucket Fillers Reading Day, where 8,300 students in 450 classrooms throughout Sarasota and Manatee counties went home with copies of author Carol McCloud’s books!

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Judge Charles Williams and Attorney Charlie Ann Syprett Stand Up for Diversity

Stand up for Diversity

Williams and Syprett launched the Sarasota County Bar Association Diversity Committee. Their efforts earned them the Sarasota Magazine 2013 Unity Award.

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3rd Annual Dream Big: Civil Rights and Social Justice Event

3rd Annual Dream Big speakers

By Chief Judge Charles E. Williams

"On Tuesday evening January 10, 2018 at Booker High School’s VPA Theatre, in celebration of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Booker High School Law Academy and the SCBA Diversity and Inclusion Committee held the 3rd Annual Dream Big: Civil Rights and Social Justice Event.  The event also featured Dr. Brook Bello who has lectured nationally on issues of gender equality, human trafficking and social justice.  This event also featured performances and tributes by Booker Law Academy students and the Booker High School VPA.

The SCBA Diversity and Inclusion Committee sponsored an essay contest in conjunction with the event which awarded $500, $250 and $100 scholarships to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners.  The high school of each winner received a matching monetary contribution. 

The winning essay was read by Grace Hu of Pine View School. The essay answered the question, “How can you lead others to impact our culture and society for civil rights and social justice?” .

The event was well attended by students, teachers, school board members and the public.  The entire evening was inspiring for all present.  Please save the date for the next event to be held on January 19, 2019."

Multicultural Health Institute

Multicultural Health Institute group photo

Excerpt from a letter to Chief Judge Charles E. Williams from the Committee Chair person, Dr. Lisa Merritt

"The Multicultural Health Institute (MHI) and Know No Bounds (KNB) committee would like to thank you for supporting our Summer Tech Program. Your recognition of the great group of students engaged in learning Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math and Health fields through APP development was so important and inspiring.

As you are aware, there are significant achievement gaps and health disparities due to complex psychosocial factors that adversely affect students of color and their families in the Manasota region. This leads to increased absenteeism and or more limited capacity to fully attend to academic issues; as well as lowered literacy and graduation rates for them and their families of origin and concomitant cultural and linguistic hurdles navigating the educational process."

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GAAP Event in Manatee County

GAAP Event in Manatee County

Circuit 12's Circuit Advisory Board's RED Committee recently hosted a GAAP event in Manatee County. Chief Judge Charles Williams moderated the discussion which was attended by about 15 youth from Teen Court, Paxen Day Treatment, Probation, and Project Bridge, about 15 Law Enforcement Officers from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office and the Palmetto Police Department along with about 15 parents, probation officers and provider staff. Pizzas were donated by Papa John's. Discussions were had about law enforcement encounters with juveniles. The teenagers spoke candidly about their experiences and perceptions of law enforcement. Everyone left the event having experienced a good exchange of opinions.

Sarasota County Bar Association Diversity Committee
Announces Recipients of the 2017 Richard R. Garland Scholarship Awards

Diversity Committee Interns

The Sarasota County Bar Association, Inc. (SCBA) Diversity Committee is pleased to announce that law students Alexis Turner Garris and Tiffany Coleman are the recipients of the 2017 Richard R. Garland Diversity Scholarship of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Inc.

The Diversity Committee aims to increase diversity and inclusion in the Local Bar so that the Bar will reflect the demographics of our County and our State. Each year the Committee selects qualified law students of under-represented minorities, who have an interest in practicing law in Sarasota County upon graduation, and provides an opportunity for summer employment in both private law firms and governmental/judicial agencies in Sarasota County. Upon satisfactory completion of the 10 week summer employment program, each law student receives up to a $5,000 scholarship to their school.  

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Sarasota County Bar Association Diversity Initiatives

Chief Judge Charles Williams

For Sarasota to live up to its reputation as a world class destination for all those who come here it must reflect the world’s diversity and be inclusive. The local legal community is no exception to this. Although there are those who feel that diversity and inclusion is not important, those with a diverse background who seek legal services in this community are going to be receptive to those firms and lawyers who are accepting and inclusive of people like themselves. Lawyers and law firms cannot ignore this fact and need to catch up both in a business sense and a moral sense in accepting and understanding why diversity and inclusion is good for their business and for the legal profession.

Experience has taught us that this cannot be accomplished in a vacuum. Someone or some group has to take a lead and explain to the legal community why diversity is important. We have to educate the public, at all levels, on the benefit of diversity and inclusion and also make the legal profession a reflection of the diversity in our community.

The SCBA Diversity Committee is tasked with that goal and gladly accepts the challenge of making the legal community and Sarasota a more diverse, inclusive and tolerant place for all those who call this community home.  Read More . . .