The opportunity to make a difference in a positive way is the best thing about a career in law for Norma Barnes-Euresti, a current board member of the LGBT Bar Foundation. “I see work as a ‘calling’ and not just a job,” she says. “We must always ask ourselves, how can I best serve?”
This mantra has guided her throughout her career. After graduating from Campbell Law School, Norma found her first opportunity to be of service at the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago, where she represented women fleeing abusive relationships. From there, she went on to work as an Administrative Law Judge for the Illinois Human Rights Commission adjudicating employment discrimination cases. She now serves as Vice President, Chief Counsel at Kellogg Company.
Although she has shifted from public service to a working for a private company, Norma says that her role at Kellogg Company is actually not much different than her past positions. “A big part of my job is to ensure that we have fairness in the workplace,” she says. “Given that Kellogg is in over 18 countries and has approximately 33,000 employees, I know that we can also have a significant impact on communities around the world.”
In addition to serving as Chief Counsel, Norma was also a sponsor of Kellogg’s Business/Employee Resource Group (B/ERG), K Pride & Allies. “The B/ERG aims to ensure that members of the LGBTQIA community can bring their authentic, whole selves to work,” says Norma. She believes groups like B/ERG are critical assets to help an organization’s employees feel safe and achieve the greatest level of success. “A diverse and inclusive environment creates a competitive business advantage,” she says.
Throughout the varied stages of her career, Norma says that her membership with the LGBT Bar stayed true to her goal of quality service. “It’s been incredible to share my ideas with other members of the Bar. I’ve been able to use those insights to positively impact myself, my organization, and – hopefully – I have helped others, too.”
In particular, Norma has cherished the Bar for its unique educational opportunities. She attests that in her over 20 years of experience, “the lectures and seminars put on by the Bar are some of the best I have ever attended. They cover topics that you can’t learn anywhere else.”
While Norma has dedicated herself to helping LGBTQ+-identified individuals thrive in her own professional community, she believes that it is also important to support advocacy for LGBTQ+ equality across the legal profession. In fact, the LGBT Bar’s own activism is part of what lead her to become a member in the first place. “The advocacy the LGBT Bar engages in on behalf of our community is my number one reason to join,” she says. “From amicus briefs, to introducing resolutions to the ABA, to advocacy by the working groups – supporting this work is key for all of us.”
As a member of the LGBT Bar Foundation Board, Norma has enjoyed engaging with other members to support that work. “It’s been incredible to work with a group of such passionate and talented individuals,” she says.
The connections that Norma has made through her membership with the LGBT Bar have helped her grow into the high-powered professional she is today. “I’ve developed personal connections with judges, in-house counsel, government lawyers, activists and talented students, all of whom have helped me develop as a professional,” she says. She credits the Lavender Law® Conference as an especially valuable opportunity to meet other legal experts. “From networking to various educational sessions, I found Lavender Law® to be an invaluable experience,” she says.
As Norma prepares to round out her term on the LGBT Bar Foundation Board, she wants to make sure that other LGBT Bar members have similarly fulfilling experiences as her own. “I am always open to connecting with members of the Bar to share ideas on how to improve the Foundation,” she says. “Email me!”