West Palm Beach, Fla. – Board members have announced the formation of the Palm Beach County Sheree Davis Cunningham Black Women Lawyers Association (SDCBWLA), the first Black Women Lawyers Association in the county.

The group is honoring Cunningham’s living legacy as the first black woman to serve as a judge in the county, and “as a leader who has left an indelible mark on our profession.”

The organization’s Inaugural Installation Ceremony & Reception is being held on Thursday, Feb. 24, 5:30 p.m. at the 4th District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach, by invitation only due to covid capacity restrictions.

The event will feature retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince, Michael G. Tanner, president of the Florida Bar, and CK Hoffler, immediate past president of the National Bar Association.


The organization’s founders are local attorneys Rosalyn Sia BakerBarnes, Sandra Powery Moses and Destinie Baker Sutton.

The charter members span a wide range of practice areas and years of experience, and include attorneys Donise Edwards Brown, Kalinthia Dillard, Adrienne Ellis, Gloretta Hall, Elaine Johnson James, Hershley Ogé, Ava Parker, Lisa Quarrie, Pamala Ryan, Salesia V. Smith-Gordon, Gwendolyn Tuggle, Lawonda Warren, Ethel Isaacs Williams and Dawn Wynn.

The group’s judicial advisors include the Hon. Maxine Cheesman, 15th Judicial Circuit; the Hon. Renatha Francis, 15th Judicial Circuit; the Hon. Cymonie Rowe, 15th Judicial Circuit; the Hon. Debra Moses Stephens, 15th Judicial Circuit, County Court; the Hon. Shaniek Maynard, U.S. magistrate judge, Southern District of Florida; the Hon. Maxine Williams, 15th Judicial Circuit, administrative magistrate; and the Hon. Damary Stokes, 15th Judicial Circuit, former magistrate.


“It is our goal to provide mentorship, guidance and support to our members, who often face unique challenges in the practice of law,” said Sia Baker-Barnes, president. “Black women lawyers make up less than 1% of law firm partners in the U.S., and less than 5% of all lawyers in the U.S. A recent (American Bar Association) study found that over 70% of minority women lawyers want to leave the practice of law due to isolation, bias and lack of opportunity for advancement.

“Our organization seeks to provide the support needed to have a successful, fulfilling legal career with the support of mentors who can provide guidance, the benefit of their experience, and opportunity in all areas of the practice of law, and to encourage its members to seek leadership positions. Membership in our organization is open to all, and we look forward to collaborating with other bar associations and the community at large.”

Baker-Barnes will be installed as president, Sandra Powery Moses as first vice-president, Destinie Baker Sutton as second vice-president, and Salesia V. Smith-Gordon as secretary/treasurer.

For other information visit sdcbwla.wildapricot.org/ or the group’s social media platforms.