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The accomplishments, innovations, and achievements of Black Americans are countless and paramount to the advancement of our society. During February, we especially celebrate these milestones as part of Black History Month. The first celebration of Black History Month in the U.S. was in 1970, and this observance originated to remember and reflect on the African diaspora, people, events, and history. The Celebration is now also observed in countries as diverse Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Netherlands.

As we now reflect on the groundbreaking contributions of Black Americans, we also look to the future and how we can continue to provide opportunities to grow and break barriers. In recent months, we’ve seen a growing awareness of social and racial justice issues, and it’s become more important than ever that we take the time to educate ourselves and amplify Black voices.

Rosland Fisher McLeod

Rosland Fisher McLeod

Public health has been a leading topic of the past eleven months in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and conversations around health law have only grown louder. In fact, according to the CDC, African Americans experience 1.4 times more COVID-19 infections, almost 4 times more COVID-19 hospitalizations, and almost 3 times more COVID-19 deaths than other members of the population. Therefore, I’d like to take this opportunity to raise awareness and appreciation for those Black legal professionals who specialize in health law. One such legal professional is Rosland Fisher McLeod, a 1996 alumna of the University of Houston Law Center, who has gone on to succeed in several avenues of health law, from biotechnology to hospital care. In the time of the pandemic, this year I felt it apropos to highlight McLeod and her impressive experience and credentials in the health field.

McLeod is now the Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer of SCL Health in Denver, CO. McLeod joined SCL Health in August 2012, and in her role, she oversees system-wide legal services and risk management strategy. Prior to joining SCL Health, she served as Vice President, Chief Compliance Officer at Biogen-Idec, and as a healthcare partner at the international law firm K&L Gates. Before she attended the Law Center, McLeod earned her undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University.

During her legal career, McLeod has been lauded as a leader driving the effort to change the medical landscape. Not only does McLeod have expertise in the health and hospital industries, but she is also skilled in various aspects of business. McLeod has worked in mergers, joint ventures, acquisitions, risk management, people management, compliance, and insurance. She has been featured in publications such as Her Health Only, The Denver Business Journal, Becker’s Hospital Review, and more.

Along with recognizing McLeod’s outstanding career and contributions to the world of health law, I would also like to take the opportunity to highlight several more exemplary professionals who have graduated from, teach at, or work at  the Law Center. Please take a moment to click through the slideshow to see more about other Black UH Law professionals  who have not only made a significant impact while they at the Law Center, but also in their respective fields, the world of academia, the legal arena, and society as a whole. This month, and always, we acknowledge how our Black alumni have taken the knowledge and experience garnered from the Law Center and trail-blazed in their industries.

Black History Month is a key time to reflect on the accomplishments of Black Americans, including Black students and alumni of the Law Center. The Law Center is continuing to seek and act on opportunities to tell the stories of our Black students and alumni, and our commitment to diversity is a top priority in making sure everyone has equal opportunity to learn, grow, and reach their highest potential. Please join me in congratulating second-year University of Houston Law Center student Charisma Ricksy Nguepdo who has been named the Houston Law Review’s editor-in-chief, the first person of African descent to earn that position.

In recognition of Black History Month, I would like to invite you to attend our annual Black History Month Lecture at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 25. The guest speaker of the virtual event is Sherri L. Burr, Emeritus Professor of Law, Dickason Chair in Law Emerita and Regents Professor Emerita at the University of New Mexico School of Law. Burr's topic will be “Genealogical Research into America’s Antebellum Past: The Challenges of Finding the Enslaved, the Free, and Enslavers.” Click here for more information.


Leonard M. Baynes
Dean & Professor of Law
University of Houston Law Center

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