Teveia Rose Barnes has known from early childhood that she wanted to be an attorney. A self-described skinny kid with large glasses from San Antonio, Texas, she was the one who all the other children would approach to settle disputes. As a youngster, she was considered extremely studious. She came into her own in college, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1975 from Rice University with a triple major in economics, German studies and political science. Upon graduating from Rice, Ms. Barnes attended and graduated from New York University Law School in 1978.
She practiced law in New York at Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett from 1978 to 1983, and from 1983 to 1986 she practiced at Sage, Gray, Toss and Sims. From 1986 to 1999, she served as Associate General Counsel and Senior Vice President at Bank of America. Ms. Barnes demonstrated her ability to influence women when she launched the Bank of America’s diversity initiative for women and people of color. She always remained unassuming and humble in her leadership.
In 1999, Ms. Barnes accepted a public service calling at the request of former president Bill Clinton. Clinton appointed Ms. Barnes as Executive Director for Lawyers For One America (LFOA). LFOA is a non-profit organization commissioned to work with a collaboration of lawyers and organizations to promote diversity for women and lawyers of color in the legal profession and to provide pro bono legal services for the working poor and underserved communities. Under Ms. Barnes’ leadership, LFOA produced Bar None: Report to the President of the United States on the Status of People of Color and Pro Bono Services in the Legal Profession, and the video, “Bending the Arc Toward Justice.”
Ms. Barnes’ full time service to LFOA ended in 2001, when she yielded to the call of public service, to serve as the Executive Director to the Bar Association of San Francisco. In addition, she maintained oversight of the Association’s Volunteer Legal Services Program, the largest comprehensive pro bono service provider in San Francisco.
Ms. Barnes is now dividing her time between LFOA and private practice at the law firm of Foley and Lardner LLP in San Francisco, as a partner in the financial institutions and the bankruptcy practice groups. Still, she is propelled by her passion to volunteer. She has served as a board member at Equal Rights Advocates, one of the most well-established women’s legal advocacy groups, whose mission is to protect and secure equal rights and economic opportunities for women and girls through litigation and advocacy.
Ms. Barnes currently serves as Chairman of the Board of On Lok, Inc. On Lok Lifeways is a nonprofit program specifically designed to provide total long-term care for the elderly. On Lok’s comprehensive health plan includes full medical care, prescription drugs, home care, adult day health, transportation, and more, thus allowing its member to remain at home for as long as possible.
She also served on the Board of Trustees for Rice University, including serving as Chairman of the Audit Committee, the California Minority Counsel Program, the American Conservatory Theater Board and the Board of the Branson School.
Ms. Barnes has spoken widely at national and regional bar associations, law schools, universities, law firms and major corporations promoting diversity and pro bono legal services to the working poor, while taking time to mentor young women lawyers and lawyers of color.
In 2004 Ms. Barnes was presented with the prestigious Margaret Brent Award from the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women for her “steadfast advocacy and gender diversity crusade.” Other recipients of the Margaret Brent Award include Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Conner and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was also recognized in 2005 with the Marin County Human Rights Commission’s Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian of the Year Award.
Teveia Barnes is devoted to her husband, Alan Sankin, also a major volunteer at LFOA, their two sons, Aaron and Zachary, and Aaron’s fiancée, Nicole Velasquez.
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