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VANITA M. BANKS BA, 1977, Political Science, Purdue University JD, 1980, Valparaiso University Vanita Banks is the Immediate Past President of the National Bar Association. She served as the 65th President of the National Bar Association (NBA), the oldest and largest national association of predominately African American lawyers and judges. Vanita served as the Chief Executive Officer and spokesperson for the NBA which is the voice of over 45,000 lawyers, judges, law professors and law students. She is only the second female attorney from corporate America to be elected as NBA President, and the 9th female since the organization was founded in 1925. Under the theme, "Carrying the Torch: Power Through Collaboration", Vanita worked with the leadership of government, private and public organizations interested in leveraging their efforts toward making a positive difference in the African American community. Shortly after taking office, Vanita held meetings with White House Counsel regarding judicial nominations, the implications of the Jena 6 and other matters of equal justice. As the nation's focus turned to Louisiana and the controversial Jena 6, Vanita traveled to Louisiana, and met with the Louisiana Attorney General, other state officials and civic organization leaders. Vanita hosted the NBA's inaugural reception during the Congressional Black Caucus Conference in Washington, DC. At this seminal event, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont received special recognition, and the NBA presented 30 members of the Congressional Black Caucus with recognition awards. Over 1,000 guests and honorees attended the reception. The legal community turned its focus toward the accreditation challenges faced by historically black law schools under proposed American Bar Association rule changes. Vanita's efforts in leading the NBA's response at the ABA conference held in Los Angeles, resulted in one of the most meaningful debates on the House of Delegates floor in recent history. On the corporate diversity front, Vanita advocated for increased access to corporate business by diverse attorneys and firms. The NBA issued its first diversity Scorecard to the largest 27 law firms in Illinois. From May 28 to June 7, 2008, the National Bar Association convened its annual International Affiliate Conference in Toronto and Cuba. This historic North American meeting commenced in Toronto and was hosted by The Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, an NBA international affiliate. This four-day meeting focused on strategies to increase diversity in the legal profession, expand the pipeline of attorneys of color into the profession, and to ensure opportunity for their success. On May 31, Vanita led a delegation of 60 lawyers, judges and law professors to Havana and Trinidad, Cuba on a humanitarian mission to promote civil society, and to build bridges of cooperation and professional affiliation. Vanita earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, Juris Doctor from Valparaiso University School of Law in Valparaiso, Indiana, and L.L.M. in Taxation from DePaul College of Law in Chicago, Illinois. Vanita began her professional career with the Chicago office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She subsequently accepted a faculty position with DePaul University School of Law, teaching first-year legal research and writing, appellate advocacy, and served on a committee that expanded the legal writing curriculum. Vanita later joined Chicago-based CaldweIl & Hubbard, representing corporate and individual clients in state, federal and bankruptcy courts, and before the Internal Revenue Service. She also counseled corporate and individual clients regarding business law and tax matters. Vanita is currently Counsel with Allstate Insurance Company where she specializes in complex insurance, employment and class action law and litigation. She has extensive experience in labor and employment law, including employee and independent contractor matters and development of corporate policy for electronic communications and commerce, and OSHA compliance.

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Vanita is a founding member of the Allstate Law & Regulation Department Diversity Committee that launched a successful Minority Summer Law Internship program, now in its 7th year. She recently led the implementation of a high school pipeline initiative with Allstate's preferred outside counsel and Street Law, Inc. In managing outside counsel, Vanita has helped stimulate an increase in Allstate's use of minority firms and attorneys of color in majority firms. Vanita served as a member of the Law & Regulation Information Technology Team which received the Allstate Chairman's Quality Award, its highest employee recognition designation. Vanita is a Fellow of the Life Management Institute, (FLMI) and is a graduate of Menttium, a national corporate mentoring and development program for high potential female professionals. She is a frequent participant on local and national professional panels regarding her practice areas and diversity. Vanita has served in many capacities with the NBA, including as Vice President of Membership, and as Co-Chair of the NBA Hurricane Katrina Task Force, appointed by NBA Past President Reginald M. Turner, Jr. to provide pro bono legal assistance to Hurricane Katrina survivors. She is a past Chair of the NBA Corporate Law Section, and member of the NBA Executive Committee. Vanita served as Special Counsel to NBA Past President Kim Keenan and prior to that, the late Clyde E. Bailey, Sr. Vanita has served as a member of the Board of the National Bar Institute. She has served as Chair of the NBA Issues and Resolutions Committee, Finance and Fundraising Committee, and Strategic Planning Committee. In 2006, Vanita was designated a Purdue University Old Master. She is a member of the American Bar Association, Cook County Bar Association, Black Women Lawyers of Chicago and North Shore Labor Counsel. Her civic and community involvement also include memberships in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, The Links, Incorporated, and Hawthorn Woods Women's Club. She serves on the Board of Directors of The Black Women's Agenda and The Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO). She is the recipient of the Women Making History Award from the National Council of Negro Women, Chicago-Midwest Chapter, and the CLEO Legacy Diversity Award. Vanita is married to James R. Bly, who is also a Purdue graduate.

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Microsoft Word - Banks bio