In our DEI Annual Report, we featured the work and impact of our affinity groups. What follows is a Q&A with Kenya Woodruff, deputy general counsel, partner and chair of the Women's Leadership Forum:
Why did you decide to become chair of the Women’s Leadership Forum affinity group at Katten? What motivated you to take on this role?
I was asked to assume the role of chair of the WLF in 2019 by Roger Furey, the chairman of the ﬁrm. I had just joined the ﬁrm in 2018 so I was surprised by the request but also excited because of the comradery and support that I had already experienced from the women of the ﬁ rm. I saw this role as an opportunity to continue to foster that and have programming and initiatives that would result in the increased hiring, retention and promotion of our women attorneys.
How does WLF work to support women attorneys at Katten along their journeys?
First, WLF is a part of the ﬁrm’s overall diversity program Kattalyst which supports women and people of color in their promotion from associate to partner and from income partner to capital partner. The focused attention on the participating attorneys’ growth has been key to several of the recent promotions of women in the ﬁrm.
WLF also provides national programming focused on business development, leadership, executive presence, managing our personal and professional lives, and cross oﬃce engagement. On the local level, each WLF leadership team for the respective oﬃces provides opportunities to socialize, discuss matters of concern, and to interact with local clients. This two-pronged local and national approach enables us to have content that is consistent across the ﬁrm and have that augmented by the building of relationships both within and across oﬃces. We are also looking forward to our upcoming women partners’ retreat and the various WLF events that will accompany our upcoming attorney cohort retreats.
What are your goals for the WLF at Katten?
Our goals continue to be to increase the hiring, retention and promotion of women at the ﬁrm. This requires an understanding of the unique challenges that women face and a dedication to providing realistic support to overcome those challenges. It also requires that the ﬁrm be equitable in its dispensation of work, work credit allocation and leadership opportunities. When planning initiatives and programming these are always at the forefront of my mind. From a statistical standpoint, I would love to see more capital partners and we will continue to provide the practice development and business development support necessary to achieve that goal.
What is your message to women attorneys who are just starting out their careers?
It really does all work out. Your career path might not be as you predicted, but if you are willing to work hard; you are open; and you say ‘yes’ to things that others don’t, you are going to end up with great opportunities to advance.