Growing up in Langdon, North Dakota, Chanda Klemisch often felt conflicted when it came to her heritage. As the mixed-race daughter of a member of the Spirit Lake Sioux tribe, she was sometimes made to feel like an outsider; cruel nicknames from her classmates alienated her from the majority-white community in her town.
It took an extended journey overseas for Chanda to appreciate her unique story. She spent four years in Europe—primarily in Vienna, Austria—that exposed her to a world of difference that she could previously only imagine. Amid the cosmopolitan hustle of a major world city, Chanda discovered a newfound confidence and pride in her own heritage—recognizing her differences as a strength, and not a liability. Shortly after returning to the United States, Chanda started at Gray Plant Mooty’s Fargo office as an LAA, and she feels fortunate to find an employer that shares her same commitment to a culturally diverse, community-oriented environment. “It’s so refreshing to work with people who are open-minded and culturally aware,” Chanda says. “A culturally diverse workforce doesn’t just make us happier and more productive, it makes us stronger.”
With many family members still living on the Spirit Lake reservation, Chanda remains deeply troubled about the serious economic and social challenges afflicting the community. As GPM expands its community presence in Fargo and beyond, she hopes the firm will continue to find more ways of reaching out and serving those in need.
Kim Bradshaw is a native of the Washington, D.C. metro area. Having studied business and accounting at Howard University, Kim entered the legal industry as an administrative assistant in the litigation area in 1998. After spending more than ten years in the industry, Kim joined Gray Plant Mooty in 2010. Immediately, she was struck by the firm’s welcoming culture. With the firm’s commitment to work-life balance, employees could excel professionally without letting their personal lives languish. In addition, the firm’s diversity programming helped employees from different backgrounds relate to one another. “Everyone connects with each other,” Kim says. “Everyone learns from each other.”
In addition to her work within the firm, Kim serves as head coach for Greenbelt S.I.T.Y. Stars Jump Rope Team, a competitive and performance jump rope team that is committed to the promotion of jump rope as a fitness tool for the development of healthy lifestyles. For 25 years, S.I.T.Y. (which stands for Sensational, Inspirational, Talented Youth) has worked to train youth athletes not just in developing technical skills, but also promoting fitness and teamwork, building self-esteem and confidence, and encouraging good sportsmanship. The Greenbelt S.I.T.Y. Stars are building the future leaders of their communities.
Whether it’s within the office or throughout the wider community, Kim is connecting with and serving those around her.
When Jim Schewe arrived at Gray Plant Mooty in 1994, his involvement with the Twin Cities Pride Committee, for which he served as events chair at the time, was no secret. Recognizing the firm’s hands-on approach to supporting its LGBTQ employees, Jim found in Gray Plant Mooty an organization that was uncommonly committed to openness and acceptance among all employees. As a part of the firm’s LGBTQ working group, Jim worked alongside several other attorneys and staff members to identify areas where the firm’s policies and practices could be overhauled to create a more inclusive working environment. Jim’s partner, George, quickly found himself welcomed into the extended GPM family as well.
As the LGBTQ community has continued to become more visible and mainstream in the two decades since Jim arrived at GPM, the firm has remained an active leader in advocating for LGBTQ representation in the legal industry. In 2016, Gray Plant Mooty sponsored the Minneapolis National Coming Out Day luncheon, which celebrates the authentic lives of LGBTQ individuals and their allies. While a great deal of work still remains to be done in advancing the cause of LGBTQ equality inside and outside of the workplace, Gray Plant Mooty stands eager to continue its leading role among Twin Cities law firms, cultivating new opportunities for the next generation of legal professionals.
Inchan Hwang has lived all over the world. He was born in South Korea and lived there until he moved to the U.S. in second grade. His family moved between Korea and the United States a couple more times before permanently settling in New Jersey. After high school, Inchan moved halfway around the world again, this time to attend college in Tokyo.
Inchan is currently President of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association – Minnesota Chapter, which supports Asian Pacific American lawyers, judges, and law students and advocates for the legal needs and interests of the Asian Pacific American community. He also served on the board of Japan America Society of Minnesota, a nonprofit that promotes cultural and business exchange between the U.S. and Japan.
“Every law firm talks about diversity, but I saw firsthand that Gray Plant Mooty lives it every day, allowing people from different backgrounds and seniority levels to be acknowledged and heard,” Inchan said. “All ideas here are valued and put into the mix. We are also continually encouraged to get involved in diversity causes both within our firm and out in the community.”
Angie is the picture of someone unafraid to tackle new challenges. Originally hired as a receptionist in 1991, her duties at Gray Plant Mooty have expanded to include project support for several departments, including accounting, human resources, and marketing. While Angie’s determination to excel clearly shows in her work, her independent spirit goes well beyond the office. Despite physical limitations that have caused her to use a wheelchair since childhood, she navigates the downtown Minneapolis streets and skyways with practiced ease. During the business day, her constant companion is Dozer, a service dog that Angie has had for two years.
“This firm and its people have always embraced me openly. At my wedding, a number of attorneys said they felt like they were at a family reunion because there were so many current and former Gray Plant Mooty people in attendance. Those comments are a testament to my 25 years with the firm. I’m a coworker, but also friends, with people at all levels of Gray Plant Mooty. They may not be related to me by blood, but they are family.”
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Gray Plant Mooty is recognized as one of the leading corporate law firms in Minnesota and one of the top franchise firms in the world. Our roots go back to 1866. Today, we are a 180-plus attorney, full-service firm with offices in Minneapolis and St. Cloud, Minnesota; Washington, D.C.; and Fargo, North Dakota.