If elected, my reputation will be the OBA's reputation. In my advocacy work on behalf of the OBA, CBA, CABL and RODA, I've tackled tough and contentious issues with honesty and integrity. I've earned a reputation as an effective leader who brings people with opposing viewpoints together to create their best work. I've demonstrated that I am not afraid to tackle the tough issues and I'm known as a fierce ambassador for the OBA who is invested in a bright future for the organization. Those who know me know that I am tough when necessary and I balance that with my ability to lead with kindness, grace, and good humour.
Here's what others are saying....
Danielle robitaille, partner, Henein Hutchison LLP
“From the minute she was called the Bar, Charlene immediately understood the challenge and opportunity to lead within the profession. For many years now she has been a leading voice at the OBA for diversity and equality for women and racialized lawyers. In my view, these are the most important issues facing our generation of lawyers. Her hard work and infectious enthusiasm are a big part of why she is an inspiration not only to young lawyers but her peers (like me!) as well.”
michelle henry, partner, blg
"We know that the role of President requires someone who is able to connect not only with OBA members but with external stakeholders and partners. Charlene has proven she has this unique ability. She has a track record of rolling up her sleeves and doing the work to get things done, whether or not it brings accolades or acclaim. From her work with young lawyers, committees, sections, and CPD programming, she truly is the leader that the OBA needs."
Ranjan K. Agarwal, partner, bennett jones
"Charlene has been a leader in our bar, and mentor to many lawyers, including me. She has the quality that we should all want in our lawyer and our leaders: good judgment. She is smart, capable, empathetic and, most of all, a good leader. At a time when our bar and our profession are facing serious disruption, we need a leader prepared to meet that challenge. Charlene is all that and more."
Gail L. Gatchalian, Q.C., partner, pink larkin; Chair, CBA National Labour & Employment Law Section
"I met Charlene through her volunteer work with the Canadian Association for the Practical Study of Law in Education (CAPSLE). Her grasp of the issues affecting both the labour and education law bar shine through. However, Charlene doesn’t limit herself to advocacy in labour law. There are few female leaders more engaged in the advancement and betterment of our profession than Charlene. She works tirelessly on both substantive and policy issues that affect lawyers across the country. I look forward to continuing to work with her at the CBA."
david s alli, associate, Hicks Morley
“Charlene has been a welcoming face at the OBA since I first became a member. She has always been enthusiastic about involving young lawyers in the OBA and conveying the importance of the organization. Further, she shows dedication to her various roles, and is always vocal about acknowledges the contributions of those around her.”
Signa A. Daum Shanks, Assistant Professor & Director, Indigenous Outreach, osgoode hall law school
"Charlene is a bridge-building, an ‘across the aisle’, a tactful , and a funny individual . She exceeds in leadership skills because she learns deeply, approaches smartly, and galvanizes graciously . What a boon it would be for the OBA to have Charlene lead us! We always need people to step up so we go in the right direction , and Charlene has already done that in so many ways. The question isn’t ‘why support her?’ It’s ‘why wouldn’t we vote for Charlene?’
karen perron, partner, borden ladner gervais
“I first met Charlene as a member of OBA Council and have now served with her over the last two years on the OBA’s Board of Directors. She is a positive, articulate and engaged person. Charlene is enthusiastic about the OBA and is keen to ensure that members and volunteers gain from their OBA experience. She understands the issues that the OBA faces and the landscape that can pave the way forward. As a regional member from outside Toronto, I have particularly appreciated Charlene’s outreach to me and other members from across the province –not to mention her fantastic restaurant recommendations!”
Isfahan Merali, Bencher, The Law Society of Ontario | Counsel, Consent and Capacity Board
"Charlene is one of the most dynamic and dedicated lawyers I have had the honour to meet and work with. Her dedication to the legal profession, to young lawyers, to inclusion and equity is matched only by her incredible depth of understanding of the challenges that lie ahead in our profession. She is incredibly well-placed to address key priorities for the OBA, and applies a broad and inclusive perspective to her initiatives and work. We are fortunate that such a fearless and passionate leader is running in this election. "
Jeffrey S. Percival, Partner, Pallett Valo LLP
“I have served with Charlene both as a OBA Council colleague and as a member of the Executive Committee, where her innate communication and project management skills as the OBA Treasurer were always evident. She is a gifted communicator whose engaging presence combines with a sharp strategic sense to provide important input and guidance for the OBA. Even more importantly, Charlene is the consummate team player – she eagerly canvasses the opinions of others, provides her own valuable insight and gets behind the collective decision always with a firm eye to moving the OBA forward in a responsible, positive and progressive direction. I have absolutely no hesitation in fully endorsing Charlene as the next 2nd VP of the OBA. She is and will continue to be an excellent leader for our association.”
Philip E. Graham, associate, koskie minsky
"Charlene has been a dedicated, visible, and active member and leader of the OBA. The OBA would be well served by her years of experience both within and outside of the organization, which have prepared her to step into this challenging role. "
doug judson, CEO, Treaty 3 Investment Group | Past President, Law Students' Society of Ontario
"Charlene has been a driving force behind diversity, inclusion, and equality initiatives in the OBA and the wider professional community. Her impact - both at centre-stage and behind the scenes - has been tremendous. The OBA needs leadership that brings this lens to the role on every file, and is motivated to address the unique challenges facing law students and new calls."
Mitchell Rose, Mediator, Lawyer and Settlement Counsel with Stancer, Gossin, Rose LLP
"Charlene builds bridges between people, while, at the same time, she celebrates their achievements . This is what leaders do - and the OBA will benefit from her strong leadership."
Anthony Morgan, Falconers LLP
"There is an adage that comes to mind when I think about Charlene's leadership and commitment to bettering our profession: Diversity is being invited in the room, inclusion is having a seat at the table. Why Charlene is an exemplary leader is that her track record demonstrates that her aim isn't just to secure a seat at the table for herself. She has always shown that her aim is to use that seat to create space at the table for others too often left seatless (if they're invited in the room at all). "Perhaps we need a new table, or no table? Perhaps a new room, entirely?" Charlene is the kind of leader that invites individuals to ask those questions, and do so not to be divisive, but so that we can do better, together. After working with her through different CABL initiatives, I have come to know Charlene as a principled and hard-working lawyer whose personability and accomplishments make her an inspiration to African Canadian lawyers across our province."
PETER J. SULLIVAN, Partner, Cassels Brock LLP
"I have known Charlene since the early 2000s when we attended Dalhousie Law School (the Schulich School of Law) together, and have always been extremely impressed by her excellent character, dedicated work ethic, and commitment to justice. The OBA can only stand to benefit greatly in so many ways through her election as 2nd Vice President. Having been a champion for diversity throughout her career (and such a strong voice for it), this role will enable her to fight for a diverse and enriched environment for all members of our legal community. A vote for Charlene is a vote in the right direction!"
Atrisha Lewis, Litigation Associate, McCarthy Tétrault
“Charlene is a trailblazer and an inclusionary leader. She has been steadfast in her commitment to diversity and inclusion. We have made strides as a profession but we have far to go. I know we can go the distance with Charlene’s leadership.”
Mandy Woodland, Partner, Jellyfish Corp. and Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Health Innovation Initiative
"From her time in law school through her work as a lawyer and advocate, Charlene has brought people together while standing firm for what she believes in. She's maintained an impressive level of engagement in the legal profession while creating change and influencing policy. Charlene's achievements go much deeper than her bio demonstrates - including solid work in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, social change, and leadership. All with grace and humour, and staying human! I would be excited to vote for someone who I believe will have a significant positive effect on the organization and the profession in years to come, and I'm proud to call her my colleague."
Suhuyini Abudulai, Partner, Cassels Brock LLP
“I have known Charlene for a number of years and had the pleasure of working with her on a panel for RODA’s 3rd Annual Diversity Conference in Partnership with the OBA. She embodies the key traits that a Second VP must have. Charlene is a leader, she is passionate, creative, and genuinely cares about addressing challenges in the legal profession and moving us forward to achieve our full potential. Her work in the community is a testament to her good nature and work ethic. Charlene is an inspiration and her character and work ethic align with the OBA’s mission”.
Njeri Damali Sojourner-Campbell, associate, Hicks Morley
"In addition to her legal excellence, Charlene is a principled, innovative and collaborative leader. With Charlene as 2nd Vice President, I’m certain that the Ontario Bar Association will expand and grow in the ways in most needs to. Her candidacy inspires me!"
rafiga gurbanzade, chair, oba student division executive
"I had a privilege to serve with Charlene on the Board of Directors at the OBA. She worked effectively to advance the interests of legal professionals. I applaud Charlene for promoting diversity and gender equality. She is an active and hardworking person, qualities that are essential for serving as 2nd Vice President of the OBA. I have no doubt that Charlene, having years of experience working with the OBA, will continue advancing its legacies and shifting the mindset towards equal opportunities for all."
sabrina bandali, associate, bennett jones llp
“Charlene is a great leader. She is hardworking, committed, and interested in finding solutions. She has a tremendous ability to encourage others, and bring people with her as she makes change. Charlene’s vision for the OBA will create value for members and position the association as a champion of diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. It’s a vision worth supporting.”
Naveen Mehta, Global Diversity Coach & Speaker | General Counsel & Director, Human Rights & Diversity, UFCW
“Charlene has been a driving force behind systemic change within the OBA. Her work has positively affected our great profession including both racialized and non-racialized lawyers. As the Bar now searches for real solutions to gender inequality, Charlene is poised to lead again. I’m excited to see what she’ll do next.”
Glenford Jameson, Lawyer and Principal, G. S. Jameson & Company | Adjunct Professor at Michigan State College of Law
“I’ve known Charlene for many years and I respect her work and involvement in the legal community, be that as a mentor to newer lawyers, as someone with a diverse professional background, or as a leader and voice at the OBA who reflects my values. Charlene understands and demonstrates the strength of diverse leadership from within the Ontario bar, which she has demonstrated extensively through her volunteerism within and outside of the OBA. I can’t imagine a more qualified person to have as a leader the Ontario Bar Association.”
Catherine Chang, Director, Alumni Relations, goodmans llp
"I first met Charlene at an OBA Diversity & Inclusion Conference (organized by Charlene) where we engaged in an insightful and thoughtful conversation about the importance of making the legal profession more inclusive. Her passion and commitment to making the profession better is inspirational. Charlene is a caring and charismatic leader whose people skills enable her to connect and galvanize others."
DARCEL BULLEN, LAWYER, METRAC
"Charlene's mentorship and guidance has been critical to my development as a young lawyer. Her mentorship has extended beyond answering questions about law and practice management. As a young racialized lawyer, Charlene's legal leadership is important because she is the only mid-level Black female lawyer in my field and her presence encourages my engagement with the OBA and legal profession. ’
Paul Saguil, AVP, Global Anti-Money Laundering - Innovation, Governance, and Risk Strategies - TD
"I've worked with Charlene in a number of capacities, including on the OBA's Equality Committee and Finance Committee, as well as on the Board of Directors. Her dedication to the OBA is without parallel, and she has been a great champion and ambassador for the organization over many years. With her demonstrated commitment to inclusion and diversity, she has the ability to build bridges within the organization and across the legal profession in Ontario and help advance the OBA's mission, vision, and values."
Jewel Amoah, Lecturer, University of the West Indies, Faculty of Law
"I spent several years with Charlene on the OBA’s Equality Committee and was continuously inspired by her ability to see all angles in an issues and navigate the path to clarity. Her enthusiasm is matched only by her commitment and forthrightness. A leader is not what Charlene aspires to be. It is who she is."
Lorne Sossin, dean & professor, osgoode hall law school
"Charlene is a well-respected lawyer, a creative problem-solver, and an influential voice on equity and inclusion in the legal profession. The OBA needs Charlene's engaged leadership and collaborative approach."
mark berlin, former director, oba & cba boards, past chair cba equality committee, sogic, professor mcgill university
“It must be said that the OBA has an embarrassment of riches with now 2 wonderful candidates vying for the post of Second VP. I worked with and have known Charlene Theodore for years. I know her to be energetic, exciting , thoughtful and compassionate with a deep regard for the future of our profession.
She is an individual who does and can take on many tasks with focused determination. Her spirit and sense of fun is also infectious.
I’m proud to call her a friend and I know she will make a dynamic leader for the OBA”.