Rita Garrett is the office administrative manager for Kutak Rock’s Atlanta office, but she’s used to wearing other hats, as well. “Soon after meeting National Inclusiveness and Diversity Director Kim McKelvey, we talked about the makeup of the firm’s National Inclusiveness and Diversity Committee (NIDC).”
While many firms don’t include staff in inclusiveness and diversity initiatives, Kutak Rock has always adopted an egalitarian approach. “At that time, the NIDC was made up of all partners and maybe two associates. I got voted onto the committee and I served for five years. After five years I thought, ‘This is great, but it’s time to hear someone else’s voice.’”
Rita was then elected to serve as chair for the Association of Legal Administrators’ (ALA) Inclusiveness and Diversity Committee. She also turned her attention to philanthropic endeavors within the firm. “KutakCares, the firm’s charitable arm, was formed when the hurricanes hit Puerto Rico in 2017. People were wanting to give and wanting to do things to help,” she said. Rita had already been orchestrating her office’s support of Cool Girls, a nonprofit formed in 1989 to help girls become confidant women. She took that experience and expanded it to help create KutakCares, which has fulfilled its mission through a variety of giving opportunities and has grown to include an annual event at Partnership Meeting for a local nonprofit in the community where the meeting is held.
We’re not just going to that city—we’re giving back to the city while we’re there.
“We’ve given to groups in Omaha, New Orleans, Scottsdale, San Diego, and Chicago. We’ve also raised money for flood victims and people affected by food insecurity due to the pandemic.”
Rita explains that KutakCares serves as an umbrella for individual office activities. “For instance, we’re doing something in Atlanta, Denver’s doing something there, Omaha often does food drives and donates to United Way, and the firm often matches these individual office efforts. In this time, especially, there are so many people in need. We’re very fortunate that we’re able to give back.” As for the future of KutakCares, “I would like to see it become an organization doing a firmwide quarterly event in addition to individual office events.”
And while KutakCares began as a grassroots effort within the firm, “I’ve had a lot of support from the firm’s Executive Committee, especially since the pandemic started. Firm leadership is really into it and so excited. I’ve always had leadership’s support for the things we do in Atlanta. The support is there. The passion is there.”