A Message From The President


It is an honor to serve as the 2024 Earl B. Gilliam Foundation president.

This is a full-circle moment for me. I didn’t know anyone when I arrived in San Diego in 2014. I contacted the Earl B. Gilliam President via LinkedIn; the rest is history. The Earl B. Gilliam community immediately welcomed my family and I into their family. Thanks to Earl B. Gilliam, I found my tribe quickly. They even helped me find my work family. Earl B. Gilliam is probably the most significant reason my family and I now call the San Diego area home. I hope that in 2024, I can continue to advance the organization’s mission of increasing diversity in the legal community here in San Diego.

It is not lost on me that we, the current members of Earl B. Gilliam, stand on an incredible legacy. In many ways, we have come a long way in diversifying the legal profession. Sadly, in many ways, we have not. In 2023, we are still experiencing too many “firsts.” When it comes to African-American representation in the legal community, we still have a long way to go. The California State Bar’s 2022 Diversity Report Card shows that while African Americans comprise six percent of California’s population, they comprise only three percent of its attorneys. We would need to increase our numbers by 100% for the percentage of African-American attorneys to reflect the state’s demographics. Undoubtedly, we have a great deal of work to do.

As we prepare to get to work in 2024, we face new challenges. Record high inflation coupled with the high cost of living in America’s Finest City presents serious challenges for our law students. On top of rising costs associated with inflation, the California State Bar chose not to host a testing location in San Diego, presenting additional financial hurdles for our students. Many of our students report concern about how they can pay for bar expenses, fear related to whether they will be able to pay their sky-high rent, and some even express concern about where they will find their next meal. The need is great.

If you are reading this letter, I know it is because we share a deep desire to address the challenges facing African Americans in the San Diego legal community. I invite you to partner with Earl B. Gilliam in 2024 as we continue to work to diversify the legal community by supporting our law students and our attorneys as they forge their paths in the legal community. Any assistance helps.

Let me also take this time to thank all of our partners. We thank you for giving us your limited free time. We know these times may also be challenging for you and your organization. We recognize the sacrifice it may be to continue financially supporting Earl. B. Gilliam at this time. We look forward to partnering with you in new ways that will allow Earl B. Gilliam to continue to fulfill our mission.

To the board, thank you for your service. We all work incredibly long hours while juggling the demands of our home lives. I know it is not easy and sometimes seems impossible, but your commitment to the mission motivates me personally. Together, we can move this organization forward while meeting the needs of our community.

Finally, I want to thank my family for their continued support. Serving on or leading an active board, such as Earl B. Gilliam, means that often, many of the responsibilities at home get shifted to other family members. Partners take on a more significant share of household responsibilities, and even children have to sacrifice while mom or dad is away. To my family and the family of all our board members, thank you for the sacrifices you have made and will continue to make while you support me and the other board members while we engage in this critical work.

The most influential quote in my career is from Civil Rights Legend Charles Hamilton Houston, who famously stated, “Lawyers are either social engineers or parasites on society.” I don’t know about you, but I refuse to be a parasite. If you feel the same, I invite you to partner with Earl B. Gilliam in 2024.

Thank you, and I look forward to working with you next year.

-Alicia Williams

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The Earl B. Gilliam Bar Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and gifts made to the Foundation are tax-deductible. Please click here to donate today.

Contact Us

Earl B. Gilliam Bar Foundation
PO Box 124923
San Diego, CA

Phone: (619) 693-6050

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