Charlene Theodore

Past President, Ontario Bar Association

Charlene Theodore is a workplace lawyer and diversity strategist with a background in government relations. As in house counsel to one of Ontario’s largest professional associations, she has a unique practice that involves both management and union side work. She also provides counsel on pensions and benefits matters, plan governance, and regulatory compliance. Ms. Theodore has represented the interests of Black Canadians before United Nations human rights treaty bodies, Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal, as well as federal and provincial legislative committees.

As leader in her profession, she has developed and championed a series of equality initiatives, with a focus on diversifying traditionally homogenous spaces in law and affecting positive change throughout legal industry for women and people of colour. Her work on behalf of the legal profession was recognized nationally when she was honoured with a Lexpert Zenith Award, celebrating champions for the advancement of women in the legal profession.

In 2020, Ms. Theodore was was named one of Canada’s 25 Most Influential Lawyers by Canadian Lawyer Magazine and was elected as President of the Ontario Bar Association, the first Black lawyer and the 10th woman to hold the Office since its founding in 1907. As OBA President, she launched a series of initiatives for lawyers and law firms to re-imagine workplaces – building productive, profitable, healthy, diverse and
inclusive work environments for all lawyers.

Ms. Theodore is a member of the Top 40 Advisory Board, a body that reflects the diversity and leadership excellence in Canadian business, and identifies outstanding young business leaders for Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 Award.

In January of 2022, Ms. Theodore will join McCarthy Tetrault LLP, as their Chief Inclusion Officer. She will lead ‘Inclusion Now’, a first-of-its-kind program in the Canadian legal profession, dedicated to diversity, inclusion and corporate social responsibility.