Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator
Williams & Connolly LLP
This month WALRAA is proud to shine a spotlight on Deshawn Cook! Dashawn is the Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator at Williams & Connolly LLP. They joined WALRAA in 2021. Read about their experience working in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB), the best professional advice they received, and more in their own words below.
1. How long have you been a member of WALRAA? What has been your favorite experience so far?
I've been a member of WALRAA for 2 years. I have thoroughly enjoyed connecting with various members at socials. This has been a great way for me to network and build connections that further the work I am doing at my firm.
2. How has WALRAA helped you in your field?
I have extensive DEIB experience in the undergraduate Higher Education arena. Working at Williams & Connolly has been my first experience doing DEIB work outside of a college/university. WALRAA has helped me gain a better understanding of the legal field as it applies to my role.
3. How did you first learn about and get started in Attorney Recruiting/Career Services?
I am more Attorney Recruiting adjacent at my firm. I work closely with our Attorney Recruiting team as a function of my role and it has been a pleasure getting to know the work they do and to support our amazing team in any way I can.
4. What is your favorite moment of your career so far?
Receiving messages from Summer Associates saying that my involvement in their summer program has had a lasting impact on them.
5. What is it that challenges you most in your job?
Finding moments to focus on self-care. DEIB work is not easy just like many other roles. Keeping up with what is going on in the world, supporting colleagues during tough times, and fostering an inclusive community is challenging work that requires adequate self-care to ensure I can continue doing this work at a high level. I get a lot of enjoyment out of the work I do, but this does not mean I wouldn't benefit from recharging my battery.
6. How do you balance your career and personal life?
Setting up clear boundaries around my time and knowing when to say, "no" or "I don't have the capacity for this right now."
7. What professional goals have you set for yourself this year?
I want to continue to enhance what we offer our employees. Working with our affinity groups and our Families Committee has been really important work for me as I strive to make our spaces as inclusive as possible.
8. What is the best professional advice you have received?
"If you don't like someone, they should never know." Everyone is not going to be your cup of tea, but we all have a responsibility to be cordial and have serving our constituents as a priority regardless if we are friends or not. I pride myself and ensuring the work gets done and that folx feel a sense of belonging at their place of work.
9. What do you like to do for fun?
I love dancing and singing first and foremost. On these colder days, you can often find me knitting and/or crocheting something for a loved one as well.
10. Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know?
Related to what I like to do for fun, many people do not know that I used to be a professional dancer as a teenager and I've had the pleasure of performing (singing) at Carnegie Hall. I am also an avid learner. I have 4 degrees (BA, MA, D. Litt., and MSJ) and though I say I'm done with school, I'll likely go back for another degree at some point. I'm currently learning American Sign Language and can see myself seeking a degree/certificate of some sort in that field.