Our History

The Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association (GSCBWLA), formerly the National Bar Association Women Lawyers Division Dade County Chapter, was formed in 1985.  The purpose of this association shall be to address the concerns of our community with an emphasis on the legal, social, economic and political needs of the Black community, and to address the professional development of Black women lawyers, and its members, including continuing legal education and the pursuit of professional excellence. Read the July 1985 Florida Bar News article on GSCBWLA’s formation.

For over thirty-eight years, the association has been a network of attorneys dedicated to community service and the professional development of its members. The association has placed a strong emphasis on community service through its community seminars, free neighborhood legal clinics and programs educating and empowering youth and the mentorship of law students. The association is also known for its support of its members’ growth and development within the legal profession. With this support, our members have achieved many “firsts” within Florida as lawyers within law firms, corporations, government agencies and the judiciary.

In 2005, the association voted to be renamed in honor of community activist Gwendolyn Sawyer Cherry, who was the first Black female attorney to practice in Dade County and the first Black female legislator in the State of Florida. Throughout the association’s existence, it has grown and its reach has expanded. Although it began as a Dade County bar association, GSCBWLA currently represents over 500 women and men law students, lawyers and judges throughout the State of Florida.


Dianne Saulney Gaines
Carolyn Y. Howard
Greer E. Davis
Latricia C. Donley
Vera E. Gilford
Melvia Bailey Green
Marilyn Holifield
Cynthia Johnson-Stacks
Knovack Gramby Jones
Leah A. Simms
Jan A. Templeman
Valeria Bland Thomas

Past Presidents

1985-1987       Dianne Saulney Smith

1987-1989       Cynthia Johnson

1989-1991        Cynthia A. Everett

1991-1992        Carolyn Y. Howard

1992-1994        Lisa B. Hogan

1994-1996        Latricia C. Donley

1996-1997        Candace Duff

1997-1999        Knovack Gramby Jones

1999-2001       Darlene Y. Bell-Alexander

2001-2003      Shirlyon McWhorter

2003-2004      Marvelle McIntrye-Hall

2004-2005      Detra Shaw Wilder

2005-2006      S. Nicky Mitchell-Pope

2006-2007      Erica N. Wright

2007-2008      Kishásha B. Sharp

2008-2009      Marva L. Wiley

2009-2010      Flora Jackson-Holmes

2010-2011       Cheryl D. Linton Robinson

2011-2012        Kymberlee Curry Smith

2012-2013       Olanike Adebayo

2013-2014       Nexcy De La Rosa Monroe 

2014-2015       Cynthia Henry Duval

2015-2017        Loreal A. Arscott

2017-2018        Nikki Lewis Simon

2018-2019        Melba V. Pearson

2019-2020       Brendalyn Edwards

2020-2021 Sheena Benjamin-Wise

2021-2022       Nakia Ruffin

2022-2023      Michele Samaroo

Upcoming events

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