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Cheers to 10 Years: Wm. Reece Smith, Jr. Leadership Academy to hold reception for milestone anniversary

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The event will take place on Friday, January 20, at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando at the Bar's Winter Meeting

Leadership AcademyThe William Reece Smith, Jr. Leadership Academy, the one-year curriculum dedicated to having lasting diversity, inclusion, and equity within Florida’s legal community, will hold a reception next week at the 2023 Florida Bar Winter Meeting to celebrate its 10-year anniversary.

The event will take place on Friday, January 20, at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, following the conclusion of the three-day conference.

Launching the Academy was the brainchild of Eugene Pettis, the first African-American president of The Florida Bar (2013-2014). Pettis believed it was the Bar’s responsibility to train a diverse group of people to compete in the legal profession and society.

“If individuals have not been exposed to certain skills such as networking, communication, and strategic planning, just to name a few, then chances are they are not going to be as proficient in those areas. From my experience, I believe those skills are essential to a successful career and life,” Pettis said, adding his goal was to design a program to bring a significantly diverse group of people to “the table of opportunity.”

To date, more than 350 attorneys have completed the Leadership Academy. Many have gone on to hold leadership positions within The Florida Bar and in their own communities, creating a network of leaders throughout Florida who credit much of their success to their Leadership Academy experience and the connections they formed as a result.

Pettis named the program after Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., who was a prominent attorney with an impeccable reputation. Smith also served as the 1972-1973 president of The Florida Bar and went on to become the president of the ABA and the International Bar Association.

The curriculum of the academy was put together by the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism, which included education about The Florida Bar’s divisions and sections, strategic plan, and history; collaboration with different workplace personalities; balancing personal, volunteer, and work lives; motivating others and delegating; conducting effective meetings; and effective leadership styles and public speaking techniques.

The 10-year reception on January 20 will be from 6 to 10 p.m., and the Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company is serving as the flagship sponsor. Tickets are on sale now for $150 and can be purchased only through the Bar’s member portal at No tickets are available for sale onsite.

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