Bar Leadership Institute

Developing leaders within the Bar, Foundation, community, and profession since 2002



Congratulations to those selected to the Bar Leadership Institute Class of 2020!

 Jessica K. Battle, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department

Belal Elrahal, Mecklenburg County Public Defender’s Office

Katherine H. Graham, Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP

Caline K. Hou, Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office

Kyle W. LeBlanc, Hamilton Stephens Steele + Martin, PLLC

Carmela Mastrianni, Hamilton Stephens Steele + Martin, PLLC

Victoria S. Mathias, Parker + Lynch Legal

Aubrey H. McEachern, Mayer Brown LLP

Lyndsay E. Medlin, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

Samantha Mobley, The State of North Carolina

Michelle Caridad Oria, Safe Alliance

Akya S. Rice, Ogletree Deakins

David B. Sherman, Jr., Hands Law Office, PLLC

Katie Short, Bank of America

Stephanie Laboy Spaugh, Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office

Danielle Walle, Marcellino & Tyson

Caitlin H. Walton, Essex Richards, P.A.

Sara Page H. Waugh, Moore & Van Allen PLLC

Haley E. White, James, McElroy & Diehl, P.A.

Virginia M. Wooten, Cranfill, Sumner & Hartzog, LLP


Information about the BLI

Program Overview: February 2020 - May 2020

Participation in the Bar Leadership Institute (BLI) includes 14 hours of CLE credit, two hours of individual coaching with BLI Facilitator Sharon Reed, and a weekend retreat in Hickory, NC.  It also includes networking opportunities and exposure to Bar, civic, and community leaders over the course of seven evening sessions, along with a complimentary ticket (and a plus one) to the annual Bar Leadership Dinner.  The BLI 2020 program* will feature the following topics during the seven evening sessions:
  1. Leadership Skills for Lawyers, Part 1
  2. Leadership Skills for Lawyers, Part 2
  3. History of Practicing Law in Mecklenburg County
  4. The Role of Race and Poverty on Mecklenburg County's Past and Future
  5. Diversity and Inclusion in Mecklenburg County's Legal Community and Justice System
  6. Applying Leadership Skills
  7. Program Review and Individual Reflection
*BLI 2020 programming is subject to slight changes at the BLI Committee's discretion.
PROGRAM details
The primary focus of the BLI is to identify and develop leaders for the Mecklenburg County Bar (MCB) and Mecklenburg Bar Foundation (MBF). The goal of the BLI program is to provide an opportunity for participating attorneys to: 
develop their personal leadership potential and skills to become a leader in the Bar/Foundation;
become aware of leadership opportunities with the Bar/Foundation and the greater Charlotte community; 
consider pressing Bar and community issues with peers and presenters of the highest caliber; and 
develop a spirit of lasting collegiality with their fellow participants.
The BLI will begin with a kickoff dinner and volunteer-recognition event, followed by a mandatory weekend retreat in February.  The retreat is designed to provide you with an in-depth look at leadership.

During the BLI program, you will be guided by a facilitator, but your growth will come from this unique opportunity for both introspection and insight from your classmates. During the three months following the retreat, participants will have opportunities for individual coaching by the facilitator and will attend a series of seven evening discussion sessions featuring special guests. Past presenters have included Bar and civic leaders, law professors, and judges. 
A final session will encourage you to reflect on the BLI experience and to consider potential avenues of leadership in your Bar/Foundation, your organization, and your community.  In an effort to further participants’ impact on the Bar/Foundation, each member of the class will be expected to meaningfully engage in the work of the Bar or the Foundation (through, for example, committee membership, section leadership, etc.) beginning the upcoming fiscal year.

Application DEADLINE: OCTOBER 18, 2019

Selection Criteria

Application to the BLI is open to members of the MCB who have been practicing attorneys for at least three years. Approximately 15 to 20 lawyers will be selected for participation in the 2020 class.  
The BLI Committee will look for potential participants who demonstrate the following criteria:
• Commitment and motivation to serve in positions of leadership;
• A record of public service and service for charitable organizations;
• A minimum of three years practicing; and 
• The ability to attend all sessions, including the weekend retreat, and the willingness to engage meaningfully in the work of the Bar or the Foundation beginning the upcoming fiscal year.  
This is a competitive selection process. In choosing potential participants, the BLI Committee will review and evaluate all portions of your application and attachments. Additionally, the BLI Committee is committed to seeking a diverse and dynamic class of participants in an effort to obtain representation from a cross-section of the Bar.

2020 Program Dates
Before you apply for the 2020 BLI Program, please be sure you will be able to attend the events listed below.
  • BLI Kickoff Dinner and Retreat – The 2020 BLI program will begin with a kickoff dinner and volunteer-recognition event in Charlotte on Thursday, February 6, 2020.  The weekend retreat is from Friday, February 7 through Sunday, February 9. You may arrange for your own transportation to the retreat site in Hickory, NC, or you may let us know if you need assistance with transportation.  Attendance is required.
  • BLI Sessions – The 2020 BLI sessions will be held in Charlotte from 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. on the following evenings: February 19, March 4, March 18, April 1, April 15, April 29, May 13, and May 28 (Graduation). These dates and times are subject to minor changes. 
Each class member will be expected to engage meaningfully in the work of the Bar or Foundation (through, for example, committee membership, section leadership, etc.) upon completion of the program.   
Failure to attend any of the evening sessions will disqualify the absentee participant from graduating from the BLI Program, subject to any variances or exceptions approved by the BLI Committee, in its sole discretion, upon a showing by the participant of exigent circumstances and upon completion of an additional, “make-up” project approved by the BLI Committee.


Program Fees

All qualified MCB members are encouraged to apply. The total tuition for participation in the BLI is $1,100 of which $100 must be paid by the participant. The remaining $1,000 may be paid by the participant or by his/her employer. If accepted, payment is due by January 3, 2020. Payment may be made by credit card online or by check (payable to the Mecklenburg County Bar). Financial assistance may be available, but is limited and awarded at the discretion of the BLI Committee.  If you are interested in financial assistance, indicate in the application the amount you are requesting.


Continuing Legal Education

It is expected that 14 hours of CLE credit will be awarded to BLI 2020 participants.


Click Here for the BLI 2020 Application


Application Deadline: October 18, 2019 

Contact Shannon Reid at with any questions.

Bar Leadership Institute Graduates 2002-19