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Be in the Room Where It Happens: Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 85 minutes
Recorded Date: July 31, 2021
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• How and Why We Resist/Justify
        - Unconscious Bias
        - Cognitive Dissonance
        - Confirmation Bias
        - Moral Disengagement
• The Legacy of Racism, Sexism, and Intolerance
        - The Economics
        - Leadership
        - Inequality to the End and Beyond
• Diversity in the Legal Profession
• Barriers to Diversity and Inclusion
• Current State of U.S. Law Firms
• Current State of Federal Judiciary
• Diversity in Insovlency

: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Recorded: July 31, 2021

For NY - Difficulty Level: For experienced attorneys only (non-transitional)

For NY - Difficulty Level: Experienced attorneys only (non-transitional)


This panel will focus on issues regarding gender, race, diversity and belonging, and how to build a resilient workplace.

This program was recorded as part of ABI's 2021 Southeastern Bankruptcy Workshop on July 31st, 2021.

Provided By

American Bankruptcy Institute
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Hon. Kathy A. Surratt-States

Chief Judge
U.S. Bankkruptcy Court, Eastern District of Missouri

Hon. Kathy A. Surratt-States is Chief Bankruptcy Judge for the Eastern District of Missouri in St. Louis, initially appointed on March 17, 2003, and named Chief Judge on Feb. 1, 2013. She is the first African-American appointed to the bankruptcy bench in the Eighth Circuit.

Judge Surratt-States began her legal career as law clerk to now-retired Bankruptcy Judge James J. Barta. In 1993, she was an associate at Campbell & Coyne, P.C., where her work focused on bankruptcy, commercial litigation and foreclosures. She then moved to Ziercher & Hocker, P.C. in 1998, where she became partner. The firm later merged with Husch Blackwell, where she was a partner in its insolvency practice group until her appointment to the bankruptcy court. In 1997, Judge Surratt-States was appointed to the Panel of Bankruptcy Trustees for the Eastern District of Missouri, and in 1999, she served as the chapter 7 trustee for Family Company of America, then the third-largest grocery store chain in St. Louis.

Judge Surratt-States serves on the Board of Catholic Charities of St. Louis and is a member of Altrusa International, Inc. of St. Louis, an international association of professionals dedicated to serving their community. She also is a member of the Missouri Bar, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, the Mound City Bar Association, the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, ABI and the International Women’s Insolvency & Restructuring Confederation (IWIRC).

Judge Surratt-States received her B.A. cum laude from Oklahoma City University in 1988 and her J.D. from Washington University School of Law in 1991.

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Hon. Sage M. Sigler

U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Georgia

Hon. Sage M. Sigler is a Bankruptcy Judge for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta, appointed in March 2018. She succeeded Hon. Mary Grace Diehl, for whom she clerked after graduating from law school.

Prior to her appointment to the bench, Judge Sigler was a partner in Alston & Bird LLP’s Bankruptcy Group. She is an active member of ABI, IWIRC, TMA and the Bankruptcy Section of the Atlanta Bar Association, and she is a volunteer presenter for the Credit Abuse Resistance Education (CARE) program.

Judge Sigler was an honoree in ABI’s inaugural class of “40 Under 40” in 2017. She received her B.A. in political science from the University of Florida in 2001 and her J.D. in 2006 from Emory University School of Law, where she was a member of the executive board of the Emory Bankruptcy Developments Journal.

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Hon. Helen Elizabeth Burris

Chief Judge
U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Disctrict of South Carolina

Hon. Helen Elizabeth Burris is the Chief Bankruptcy Judge for the District of South Carolina in Spartanburg. After clerking for Hon. Marvin R. Wooten in Charlotte, N.C., she began her private practice at a debtor’s firm and worked with a chapter 7 trustee before joining a larger firm, primarily representing creditors, until she was appointed as standing chapter 13 trustee. She is licensed to practice in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Judge Burris is a member of the J. Bratton Davis Bankruptcy American Inn of Court, a member and former president of the South Carolina Bankruptcy Law Association, and a former member and chair of the South Carolina Supreme Court Bankruptcy and Debtor-Creditor Specialization Advisory Board. She has served on various committees and as a member of the Board of Governors for the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, and as a member of the Next Generation of CM/ECF committee for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. In addition, she served as a member and chair of the Judicial Conference Committee on Audits and Administrative Office Accountability (AAOA), a group that oversees the audit processes and certain investigative activities for the federal courts, Administrative Office and related offices nationwide, and member of the 2020 Ad Hoc Strategic Planning Group for the Judicial Conference, contributing to the five-year plan for the federal courts.

Judge Burris received her B.A. from Appalachian State University and her J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law at Chapel Hill.

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Demetra L. Liggins

Thompson & Knight, LLP

Demetra L. Liggins is a partner in Thompson & Knight LLP’s Bankruptcy and Restructuring Practice Group in the firm’s Houston office. She has nearly 20 years of experience in business finance and restructurings for a variety of large and small public and private companies.

Ms. Liggins has led many of Thompson & Knight’s representations of bankruptcy clients, working on both in-court and out-of-court restructurings. Her clients include health care systems, retail corporations, financial institutions, oil and gas companies, partnerships and private-equity funds, among others.

Ms. Liggins is a frequent speaker on bankruptcy and finance-related topics, in addition to speaking on career goals, branding and mentorship to minority and female audiences ranging from established professionals to students. She is actively involved in numerous organizations, including serving as Southern Regional director and a former Fellow of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity; immediate past Houston Network chair of the International Women’s Insolvency & Restructuring Confederation (IWIRC); a member of the Women’s Business Alliance, Greater Houston Partnership; a member and former chair of the Bankruptcy Section of the Houston Bar Association; a member of the Cumberland Law School Advisory Board; a member of the Women’s Energy Network; and a Fellow of the American Bar Association, Houston Young Lawyers Foundation and Texas Bar Foundation. She has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America, Texas Super Lawyers and Texas Rising Stars by Thomson Reuters, as a Law Firm Rainmaker by Diversity & the Bar, and to Houston’s “Top Lawyers” by H Texas magazine. She has also been featured in Law360’s Minority Powerbroker Q&A series. She also was recently featured as an honoree for the 2020 Houston Association for Women Attorneys Premier Women in Law and for the 2019 Texas Minority Counsel Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ms. Liggins received her B.S. in business administration cum laude from Christian Brothers University in 1997 and her J.D. cum laude from the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in 2000.

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Hon. Benjamin Kahn

U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Middle District of North Carolina

Hon. Benjamin A. Kahn is a federal bankruptcy judge for the United States bankruptcy court, Middle District of North Carolina. Kahn joined the court on August 14, 2013.

Prior to joining the court, Judge Kahn was a conferee for the National Bankruptcy Conference. Before that, he was a law clerk for the Honorable Jerry G. Tart.

Judge Kahn earned his B.A. and J.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1990 and 1993.

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