Merchant & Gould Names John Winemiller as the Firm’s First-Ever Chief Diversity Officer

May 11, 2022

Merchant & Gould is pleased to announce that John T. Winemiller, Ph.D., has been named the firm’s first-ever Chief Diversity Officer (CDO), reaffirming the firm’s ongoing commitment to its diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. As the CDO, John will serve as the Firm’s expert on current and emerging developments in DEI, including best practices for the recruitment, retention, and promotion of underrepresented attorneys and non-attorney employees. John previously served as the chair of the firm’s Diversity Committee and has been working on firmwide DEI initiatives for many years. As CDO, he will deepen this dedication and help expand firmwide and industrywide outcomes. 

While a focus on DEI is not new to Merchant & Gould, the newly created CDO position will strengthen the firm’s ongoing efforts to become more diverse and inclusive. The firm recently achieved Mansfield Rule Plus certification, recognizing the firm’s attention to DEI in its hiring, promotion, and leadership decisions. It has also established law-school scholarships for underrepresented students, to increase diversity in the legal profession. And it has adopted comprehensive policies for interactions within the firm and community. 

“Diversity, equity, and inclusion are core values of Merchant & Gould and have never been more important.  The firm’s creation of the CDO role underscores not only our commitment to hiring and retaining diverse talent, but also our fundamental belief that diverse teams achieve the best results for our clients,” said Winemiller. “My goal is to help all team members thrive at Merchant & Gould, while also helping the legal profession become a more diverse, inclusive and innovative community. And that’s good news for all of us.”

Also managing partner of Merchant & Gould’s Knoxville office, John will integrate his attorney experience with his new CDO role, to combine his professional experience with his ongoing involvement in DEI projects. He will work with other firm leaders to set short-term and long-term DEI goals, monitor progress toward those goals, and evaluate the effectiveness of the Firm’s structure, policies, and practices in the light of those goals. 

“Having worked closely with John for many years, I value his work as an attorney and his depth and passion as a DEI leader. He is an advocate who will work with our staff and attorneys in new ways for us to create meaningful change for our firm, our clients, our community and our legal industry,” added Christopher J. Leonard, Managing Director and CEO of Merchant & Gould.

John is based in Knoxville and will work across all seven Merchant & Gould offices to advance DEI initiatives. He has opened up the firm’s Diversity Committee to all staff members and attorneys, fully encompassing participation and new ideas.