Sidley appoints María D. Meléndez as chief diversity officer
Law firm Sidley has announced that it has appointed María D. Meléndez as its new chief diversity officer.
María D. Meléndez
She will replace Sally Olson who has served as chief diversity officer at Sidley since 2011 and will be retiring from the firm on May 1, 2020.
Previously a partner in Sidley’s commercial litigation and disputes practice, Meléndez has more than 25 years of experience in litigation and arbitration. She has served as a member of the firm’s diversity and inclusion committee, including as New York chair from 2002 to 2016.
Additionally, she has served as a member of the recruiting of associates committee and the New York co-chair of the summer associate program committee. As chief diversity officer, Meléndez will devote all of her time to leading the firm’s efforts to further advance and increase diversity and inclusion at the firm and beyond.
Meléndez is also chair of the board of directors of LatinoJustice PRLDEF, a US civil rights organization using the power of the law, advocacy and education to advance and protect the rights of Latinos in the US. She also serves as the firm’s representative to Her Justice, a provider of legal services related to cases of domestic abuse and child custody to disadvantaged women in New York.
Meléndez has also been a recipient of the Puerto Rican Bar Association’s Flor de Maga award, which is given to women who have demonstrated leadership skills in their fields of expertise, acted as role models to other women and girls, and who have advocated for a more equitable society.
She said: “As I pivot to this new role, I am very excited to have the opportunity to continue to work with my Sidley colleagues, clients, and other stakeholders to strengthen and further advance our diversity efforts as we recruit, hire, develop and promote exceptionally talented lawyers from all backgrounds around the globe.”
Mike Schmidtberger, chair of Sidley’s executive committee, said “Under Sally Olson’s leadership, we have experienced a measurable, sustained increase in the diversity of our partnership and firm overall, and a strengthening of our inclusive culture. We sincerely thank Sally for her tireless work and are confident that María has the passion, vision and resolve to propel our efforts further forward. María is widely respected and known in the legal profession as a diversity and inclusion champion and we are delighted she chose to set aside her active legal practice to accept this important role.”
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