Jammell Nicole Gamboa Rose is a recipient of the Justice Betty Roberts Leadership Conference Grant. We asked her to share her thoughts about the experience with us.
Tell us about yourself:
I have been an attorney in Oregon since 2012. My background was in finance; however, I wanted to pursue a career in which I felt I could truly help people who were voiceless or felt voiceless in our society. I had desired to become an attorney since a young age and was encouraged to pursue law school. I graduated from Willamette College of Law and passed the Oregon bar a few months later.
I am married to my best friend who I met my first year of law school. We have a beautiful blended family which includes four children– three girls and a young son. I am a happy and very proud mother of four.
I currently work for the Multnomah County Health Department writing complex mental health contracts. I truly enjoy what I do and the people I work with, though my true desire is to have the opportunity to practice as a litigator.
What is your connection to the Oregon Women Lawyers Foundation?
2016 was my first year as a member of OWLS. I am the treasurer for the Oregon Chapter of the National Bar Association, and I was able to get to know Linda Tomassi in that capacity. She invited me to join OWLS. When the opportunity came up for the conference for African American attorneys, Linda suggested the grant application process through the Oregon Women Lawyers Foundation. I was honored when I was informed that the Oregon Women Lawyers Foundation would send me to the conference and fund my trip through the Justice Betty Roberts Grant program.
What conference did you attend?
I attended the Transformative Justice African American Women in the Law Conference. The conference was held in Washington, DC and was intended to focus on legal issues that are specific to the African American Community.
Why did you want to attend?
As an African American lawyer in a predominantly white city and state, I do not get many opportunities to attend an event like this. At last estimate, there were fewer than 150 self-identified African American lawyers in Oregon. My experiences in life and in the legal field can often feel isolating. I wanted to share with a group of individuals who I had a common experience both in life and the law with. I wanted to learn how to approach issues I dealt with daily and inequities and bring solutions back to my community.
What did you learn?
First and foremost I learned I am not alone. Often times one can begin to wonder if the experiences here in Oregon are isolated or if the inequality and implicit bias is imagined. It is not. I also learned I have a network of sister lawyers here to support me.
Once of the most thrilling experiences was meeting and listening to Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw from Columbia University, who coined the phrase “intersectionality.” Her wisdom and spirit will stay with me for a long time.
Most importantly I came to understand the impact of police brutality on Black women and how it connects to domestic violence and how Black women are often excluded from the conversation. Black women are generally not victims of police profiling in the way that Black men are. They are often killed by police while seeking help. We met the mothers of women killed by police while trying to seek assistance as victims. We comforted these mothers as a group and it was a powerful experience.
Did the experience change you in any way, or perhaps help shape any future plans or goals you have?
I was remarkably changed. I felt closeness I don’t often experience with other lawyers. I will be returning for the next conference. I saw women like me and regained a sense of myself. I have had difficulty in Oregon finding my place and finding work as a lawyer. I gained a new sense of direction and willingness to strike out on my own if that is what it takes. I feel as if I have support now. I have remained in communication with the women I met and they always return emails and messages. I have a sense of expanded community and I am so grateful for that.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Thank you to the Oregon Women Lawyers Foundation for this opportunity. It was truly an incredible experience.