NIGERIAN-born lawyer Adanwinmo Okafor has been appointed as the general counsel of the American Board of Surgery (ABS) becoming its ever first chief diversity equity and inclusion (DEI) officer.
Ms Okafor, who most recently served as of counsel in the employee benefits and executive compensation practice group at Ballard Spahr, has contributed to a plethora of diversity efforts in her professional life. At Ballard Spahr, she served on the leadership committee of the Black Lawyers Group and helped curate a Race and Allyship Resource List consisting of books, articles, movies and podcasts that provided information on the black experience in America.
Dr Jo Buyske, the ABS president and chief executive, said: “This represents our real, long term commitment to making real change at the ABS and in surgical leadership. We are prepared to provide the partnerships and resources needed to make her portfolio of work an enduring legacy.”
Born in Nigeria, Dr Okafor was raised in the UK before moving to the US with her parents when she was a teenager. She holds a law degree from American University, Washington College of Law, as well as an undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University, was an active member of the Women Lawyers Group.
Ms Okafor said: “My desire to help people led me to pursuing a legal career. I’m passionate about DEI because I believe it helps create an inclusive environment so that people can do their best work and have their individual skills and talents recognized, appreciated and utilised.
“I’m the first person of colour and first black woman to hold this position in the organisation’s 80 plus year history. By stepping into the general counsel role, I join a small but elite group of black counsels who’re leading their company’s legal departments and paving the way for others to follow in their footsteps.”
ABS is the national certifying body for general surgeons and related specialists in the US. Ms Okafor has been involved with numerous conferences on promoting diversity in the legal profession such as the Corporate Women of Color Conference and has been trained on implicit/unconscious bias, microaggressions, microassaults, microinsults, microinvalidations, and the appropriate ways to validate and respond to those impacted by such words and actions.