About Us

About MBWA

Founding Members
Margaret Burnham
Pamoja Burrell
Elaine Denniston
Barbara Dortch-Okara
Beatrice Greene
Ruth-Arlene Howe
Yolanda Mitchell
Bernice McIntyre
Judith Nelson Dilday
Ellen-Marie Ray
Dorothy Sanders
Helaine A. Simmonds
Beverly Towns Williams
Dianne Wilkerson
Past Presidents
1981-1983 Bernice K. McIntyre
1983-1986 Dianne Wilkerson
1986-1987 Kathryn Allen
1987-1989 Pamoja Burrell
1989-1991 Evelynne Swagerty
1991-1993 Dorothy Sanders
1993-1995 Yvette Mendez
1995-1996 Yvette Mendez & Francine Applewhite
1996-1999 Francine Applewhite
1999-2001 Beverly Coles Roby
2001-2002 E. Selena Samm
2002-2004 Marjorie O’Reilly
2004-2007 Belinda Taylor
2007-2013 Keidi S. Carrington
2013-2015 Tiffanie Ellis-Niles
2015-2018 Deborah Johnson
2018-2020 Tinia Snow
2020-2021 Janette Ekanem
2021-2023 Patrice C. Dixon

Who We Are

The Massachusetts Black Women Attorneys (MBWA) is a not-for-profit professional bar association founded in 1981 by a group of Black women attorneys from all areas of practice in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The MBWA represents every sector of the legal community including judges, in-house counsel, law firm partners and associates, Fortune 500 and 100 company employees, solo practitioners, government attorneys, law professors, and legal experts. The MBWA membership includes government officials, humanitarians, community leaders, and trailblazers.

MBWA members promote legal education by leading educational seminars, lecture series, and panel discussions on a multitude of legal subjects. The MBWA helps Black women attorneys become more effective advocates to their clients and communities. Our bar association is a dedicated avenue for Black women attorneys of the Commonwealth to build meaningful connections and to serve as a resource for each another.

We invite you to explore our website and join us as a proud member of our organization.

Our History

Forty-three years ago, a group of African-American attorneys, calling themselves the Massachusetts Black Women Attorneys Organizing Committee, gathered to form a professional bar association to address their unique struggles as women of color in the legal profession. The Committee compiled the first known comprehensive listing of African American female practitioners in the Commonwealth.

In May of 1981, the Committee sponsored a Spring Brunch to introduce the idea of forming the Massachusetts Black Women Attorneys. This working meeting was attended by a diverse group of African American female attorneys, from all areas of practice, in the Commonwealth. The idea engendered overwhelming enthusiasm and support, and discussion ensued concerning the organization’s structure, goals, and activities.

Shortly after the Spring Brunch, the Committee formed the Ida B. Wells Barnett Law Society. The Society elected Bernice McIntyre as its’ first President. The Society later voted to change its name to the Massachusetts Black Women Attorneys, an organization dedicated to the memory of Ida B. Wells Barnett.