About Us

About MBWA

MBWA Board
View Photos from 2021 Swearing-In Ceremony
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

Who We Are

Forty 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.

Since 1981, the Massachusetts Black Women Attorneys has sought to preserve and advance justice for all people. Its mission is to assist in ensuring the fair and even-handed administration of justice particularly as applied to women of color. The Massachusetts Black Women Attorneys is similarly concerned with social policy and civil rights issues in the greater minority community.

The organization also seeks to promote legal education by sponsoring educational seminars, lecture series and panel discussions on subjects that affect its members. The Massachusetts Black Women Attorneys serves as a useful resource by aiding African-American women attorneys to become more effective advocates and a direct link to our communities.

MBWA Board of Directors

Patrice C. Dixon


Desiree Murphy

Vice President

Shahria Boston


Danielle Johnson

Corresponding Secretary

Janette A. Ekanem

Immediate Past President

Francesse Canty

Board Member

Tara Dunn

Vice President

Tierra A. Jenkins

Board Member

LaRonica Lightfoot

Board Member

Raquel Webster

Board Member

Jasmine Wells

Board Member