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Branding Room Only Special Episode: Reflections on Receiving a 2023 Council of Urban Professionals (CUP) Law Catalyst Award

Branding Room Only Special Episode: Reflections on Receiving a 2023 Council of Urban Professionals (CUP) Law Catalyst Award

Paula T. Edgar is an attorney, speaker, and CEO of PGE Consulting Group LLC, a strategy firm specializing in professional development and diversity, equity, and inclusion solutions for organizations. She is an expert in personal branding, leadership, networking, leveraging social media, and business development. In the last year, Paula delivered keynote speeches and facilitated workshops for over 10,000 attendees.

Paula has written for and been featured in publications such as the New York Times, Bloomberg Law, Business Insider, and US News.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Paula Edgar’s experience with the Council of Urban Professionals (CUP)
  • Being a catalyst for other people’s success
  • Special shoutouts from Paula

In this episode:

The most valuable difference-makers can catalyze and magnify the lives in their communities. These individuals refuse to settle for the status quo and enable radical change for themselves and others. Paula T. Edgar was recognized within one of her affiliate organizations for consistently embodying this transformative work throughout her career.

In this special episode of Branding Room Only, Paula Edgar reflects on receiving the 2023 Law Catalyst Award from the Council of Urban Professionals (CUP). She discusses what it means to be a catalyst, how she helps and receives support, and she shout-outs the people who made this award possible and continue to support her in being a change agent in the legal profession.

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Resources mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode

This episode is brought to you by PGE Consulting Group LLC.

PGE Consulting Group LLC is dedicated to providing a practical hybrid of professional development training and diversity solutions. From speaking to consulting to programming and more, all services and resources are carefully tailored for each partner. Paula Edgar’s distinct expertise helps engage attendees and create lasting change for her clients.

To learn more about Paula and her services, go to www.paulaedgar.com or contact her at [email protected], and follow Paula Edgar and the PGE Consulting Group LLC on LinkedIn.

Paula Edgar: Hi everyone, it’s Paula Edgar here and I am sitting here in a space of profound gratitude. So tonight I had the opportunity to be recognized as a CUP Council of Urban Professionals Law Catalyst. To explain to you what this means to me would take a long, long time, but essentially I was selected, amongst a cohort of approximately, I think it was seven or eight people and I wanted to do this acknowledgement speech post session because I knew I wasn’t going to have the opportunity to actually do an acceptance speech.

But if you know me, and I think that you do, I’m going to do a speech. So I want to talk to you about what it means to be a catalyst. For me, a catalyst is like a fire starter, someone who is going to make sure people have the inspiration, the motivation to do all the things that they should do.

It’s the concept of Engage Your Hustle, which is my business tagline. And to be recognized as a catalyst in law, because, as a lawyer and someone who interacts with primarily lawyers, it means so much. It means so much. CUP itself was a catalyst for me in my career. I was a 2015 CUP Fellow and that experience really changed my life. I had the opportunity to experience firsthand what the professional development, the connections, the communication, the camaraderie amongst the CUP Fellow cohort members, brought for individuals and brought for each other. We had the opportunity to connect with each other more than what CUP said we had to.

We became a family and that meant so much, especially in the time for me when it was so much happening and transition for me professionally and within my home and family space. So when I say that CUP, the experience of having the connection of being a CUP Fellow was invaluable, I can’t really state that more but I am proud to be able to say that I have been a catalyst for so many and in a lot of different ways. When I reflected on this, what have I been a catalyst for?

I’ve been a catalyst for mentoring. My mentees have all understood, number one, my expectation of them, their ability to be and achieve so much more than they might have had in their sights because of our interactions.

I’m a catalyst for leadership. I think about the opportunity to have been, experienced leaders such as Joe Drayton, Taa Grays, folks who within the Black Bar really helped me to understand that just connecting with yourself is not enough. You have to want to figure out what your contribution is going to be to the next people in your journey, to the folks who are coming behind you.

And so I believe I’m a catalyst for law students, for Black lawyers, for definitely diversity, equity, inclusion within our legal profession, and… so much, especially now for professional development. If we’re not investing in ourselves, we cannot be the catalyst for others. We can’t be the catalyst for ourselves.

And so I think I’m a catalyst in so many ways, but just in reflecting on tonight, I’m a catalyst for being in a room with people and saying, guess what? Let’s get this picture done properly. Let’s make sure that we are able to document our events in a way where we can reflect back and say, well, we took the time to make sure this looks good.

That’s what I want to be a catalyst for. For your professional brand, your personal brand, and so with all of that as an attorney, a mentor, a leader, my goal has been to pave the way for people who follow and to reflect on the people and giants upon whose shoulders I have stood and I continue to stand.

And so I want to do a couple of shout outs. I know I will miss some folks, but, blame it on my head and not my heart. Anybody who I don’t specifically call out, but it would be remiss for me to not call out my CUP family. That’s my 2015 Fellows cohort class. That is Nate Saint Victor, who has been a champion, supporter, friend through all of this.

That is Gabrielle Brown, who is my heart, who helped me to understand the power of CUP and the power of our collaborative voices together and who I had the opportunity to see recently. And I’m so happy that that was this was a piggyback on our reconnection. Jacques Sexton, you know, you want somebody like Jacques in your corner and I’m so proud and happy to say that I have him in mine.

My leadership, my MBBA leadership cohort, Justina Rivera, Nicole Arrindell. What would I do without having you on my side to be able to connect with and reflect on all the things that we have to impact within the world, both within CUP as well as in the Metropolitan Black Bar Association. Speaking of which, my MBBA family, Black Lawyers Matter. We all matter, and, having the opportunity to build and grow amongst all of you has been one of the pleasures and the honors of my life.

For all of you, your support and your guidance has been like a lighthouse, right? Like I can say when I feel like a little bit off, I need to be right sized. I can go to my people. Special shout out to current MBBA President, Carl Forbes Jr. We have built this connection that I very much cherish so much. I would be remiss if I didn’t shout out some of my former board members. Wayne McKenzie, thinking about Alison Moore-Alexis, thinking about my friend, my fellow lion, Dennis Hopkins, thinking about Latanya Langley, my BFF forever, Sonya Olds. There’s so many people in my village. I am blessed beyond belief. And so if I’m a catalyst, that means that they are catalysts because we do this all together.

Shout out to Conway. Shout out to Nneka. Shout out to all the people who I connect with in building and supporting Black lawyers, and championing diversity in the legal profession. But when I talk about gratitude, I could not even sit here without being in gratitude for my parents, my father, Peter Griffith, my mother, Joan Donna Griffith, my husband Taj. I don’t know where I would be or what I would do without you in my corner.

My children, TJ and Austin. Tiffany, Kari, all my people, you are my inspiration. You are my motivation and I will not say anything without saying a shout out to all who is Oprah Winfrey, my always want to be podcast guest, and really inspiration in so many things. And anybody who I didn’t mention in specific, please know that I’m thinking about you in my heart.

Big shout out to New York City Bar Association, shout out to MBBA, shout out to the ABA Criminal Justice Section, the Commission on Women, Ms. JD, the Ellis L. Phillips Foundation, Deerfield Academy, all of the places who have been additive to who I am and allows me to be the catalyst that I have been recognized for tonight.

I want to ask you to work with me to continue to break barriers to catalyze folks to be committed and to honor the responsibility that we all have to make change and to pass it down so that the change agents that we are don’t stay with us, they are continued catalysts for other people. And then of course, thank you so much to my fellow cup Fellows, the whole class of CUP fellows in general every single year.

Melissa, Alexis, all the folks who are the ones who connect with us for CUP. As well as the board members and everybody who’s been a catalyst forever, a supporter and sponsor. I want to thank you. And for those of you who don’t know anything about all this, I want to say to you, Engage Your Hustle.

And my mother would say to me always – you can be the wind or you can be the leaf. And my recommendation, my suggestion to you all is to commit to being the wind, to being the change, to being the catalyst. And with that, I thank you for listening if you stayed this long, and if you have not, hopefully you’ll listen to this in the second part.

Listen to my podcast, follow me on Twitter, follow me on LinkedIn, and let’s stay connected to continue to be catalysts for each other. Be well and I look forward to seeing you and taking a selfie soon.