In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we sat down with Dorsey attorney and Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association (MHBA) President-Elect Roxy Gonzalez to learn more about the organization, initiatives for the coming year and professional opportunities available to the Hispanic legal community.
Q1: Can you provide some background on the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association?
Sure! The MHBA was founded in 1991 with a mission to unify, organize and advocate for members of the Hispanic legal community in Minnesota. Before 1991, there were not enough diverse attorneys to form individual affinity bars and only one affinity organization existed. As the number of diverse attorneys in Minnesota grew, we have been able to advance the initiatives of our own members as well as work with other affinity bars on matters that affect us similarly.
Q2: As MHBA’s President-Elect, can you share a little about your role?
As President-Elect, I’m responsible for organizing the 2022 MHBA Gala, which is our annual fundraising event that allows us to put on our programming throughout the year, as well as provide grants to local organizations that further our mission. I’m looking forward to introducing a theme for my year as President, which will be announced at our upcoming Gala in the Spring of 2022. I also support our current President, Richard Greiffenstein, to ensure his vision for the MHBA is met.
Q3: How did you first become involved with the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association?
I first became involved as a law student through the MHBA Mentorship Program. This program pairs attorneys and judges that are members of the MHBA with law students in Minnesota. It was great to have a direct professional connection with individuals that I respected and I continue to nurture those relationships to this day. A few years into my practice I became more involved with the MHBA Board and was elected Secretary. I have served on the board since that time.
Q4: What do Hispanic Bar Association members gain by joining the organization?
Some of the benefits of joining the MHBA is access to a network of diverse attorneys and members of the legal community that can help you in your professional endeavors and the opportunity for you to help others. From navigating new jobs and roles to providing guidance and encouragement, our membership group has a wealth of experience to draw upon. Members also have access to CLE programming, mentorship, networking events, a job board and the opportunity to get involved in our committees covering development, community outreach, public relations, and member relations.
In addition, members of the MHBA have an opportunity to engage in conversations on issues specific to the Hispanic community and discuss how the MHBA should address its position on those issues with a wider audience.
Q5: What upcoming MHBA initiatives are you most looking forward to in the coming year?
An area I’m personally invested in as a member of the MHBA Board but also as a Latina attorney in Minnesota, is the MHBA Judicial Endorsements Committee (“JEC”). I currently serve as the Co-Chair of the JEC, along with Judge Jeffrey Bryan.
The JEC proudly endorses qualified judicial candidates for appointment at all levels of their application process, and supports any members interested in applying for judicial vacancies by providing interview preparation.
In the last year, there has been a large increase in the number of judicial vacancies in the Minnesota. The MHBA has also seen an increase in members interested in filling those vacancies and that is critical. If the MHBA Judicial Endorsements Committee can help promote and prepare members for judicial opportunities that may not normally have diverse applicants, then the possibility of a more inclusive bench becomes attainable. And a more inclusive bench can help build trust with the communities it serves and engagement in the legal system.
Q6: Is there a piece of advice you’d like to share with attorneys in the Hispanic legal community who are looking to advance their careers?
Really think about what you would like your career to look like and the reasons why. Find people through the MHBA or through other avenues that can help you to not only get there, but also help you to understand what areas you need to highlight and what areas you need to grow in to make your goal a reality. Many of us are happy to support students and our colleagues; we just have to be asked. We have all had mentors, champions, and sponsors help us achieve our goals.