Tanya N. Blocker
Tanya N. Blocker serves as senior in-house labor and employment counsel for multinational energy conglomerate National Grid. With over a decade of legal experience in the private and government sectors and a history of litigation victories in both state and federal courts, she provides counsel to the company in its employment law matters and manages the Company’s employment related litigations as well. She is the immediate past president of the Association of Black Women Attorneys New York, co-chair of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association’s Labor & Employment Section, and is the recipient of the New York Law Journal’s 2018 Distinguished Leadership Award as well as a Profiles in Diversity Journal 2019 Women Worth Watching Award recipient. Tanya is a leader with a mission, unwavering in her purpose, who prioritizes God—and one whose very presence inspires people. “To whom much is given, much is required; and to whom much is extended much more will be asked” is her scriptural mantra. “I have been blessed, and it is for me to give back,” she shares. “I am planting seeds many of which I may not see bloom, but it is my obligation to continue planting for future generations. I want to unify communities to grow, and build, and change together. And at the root of that is espousing compassion for others.”
As a young lawyer armed with a jurist doctorate from St. John’s University School of Law, Tanya began her career in 2009 in private practice, specializing in commercial litigation, including white collar crime and employment law. Prior to joining National Grid, she served as senior counsel at Gordon & Rees, as senior counsel in the Labor & Employment Division of the New York City Law Department, and as a commercial litigation associate for the firm Kaye Scholer, LLP. (kna Arnold Porter Kaye Scholer). Though she began in commercial litigation, before long, Tanya realized that her calling was not the glitzy universe of white-collar crime, but the purpose-driven field of employment law. “I started in big law commercial litigation primarily because of the cachet and the sophistication of it all. As a naïve law school student, I measured success in law school and the legal profession, for that matter, exclusively based on whether or not I could secure an offer in big law. Because that’s what you are fed as a law student. This was despite having an offer in government with the opportunity to gain trial experience, which I knew I would enjoy. While big law offers phenomenal training and refinement, I learned quickly that securing and offer in big law and achieving success in the legal profession are not binary. As I matured and began networking and attending professional development events, I heard something that struck a chord. That the common denominator for success is career ownership. While I enjoyed white collar crime, I adored employment law,” she shares.
After being introduced to employment law in the private sector, Tanya took all the skills, knowledge, and experience gained over her tenure there and transitioned to the government sector and matured into a fierce and formidable litigator with the capacity to think on her feet. “One of my favorite quotes is from Coco Chanel—‘The most courageous act is still to think for oneself. Aloud!’ I ascribe to this and the notion of doing rather than saying. To me, one’s actions speak louder than one’s words. In my field, there is a tendency to tell rather than show and to romanticize certain positions and stigmatize others based sheerly on title rather than skill. I confronted this after transitioning from private practice to the government. While I too enjoy the pomp and circumstance, it is all meaningless absent substance.” So, she encourages young attorneys “to resist the eloquence of titles and the smoke and mirrors of ‘prestige’ and root themselves in purpose and substance.” Take control of your career early and explore your passion even if the cachet doesn’t accompany that choice,” she explains. “To what end am I doing this, should be your initial question and the ultimate answer, your guiding post.”
Grounded in her commitment to contribute to the betterment of communities and humankind, Tanya also uses her legal skills and experience to lift-up others. She has spent significant time in West Africa engaging in diversity and governance work, and presenting on international employment law, and she was a participant of the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) Abshire-Inamori Leadership Academy (AILA) 2019 Fellowship Program, a flagship leadership program designed to equip aspiring global leaders to be effective and ethical change-makers. “I believe I have an obligation to assist in reframing the narrative of how Africa is perceived. And to understand my origins and to contribute back to the diaspora,” she explains.
In keeping with her mission to give back, she also supports kids, serving as a mock trial coach for a public school in Harlem, New York, from 2013 to 2017, and working to instill in them the message to be compassionate, confident and collaborative—the theme that runs through everything she does. As a leader in her profession and an active supporter of communities here and abroad, Tanya is the epitome of one of her guiding principles—“Your actions speak louder than words.”
Tanya N. Blocker
Senior In-House Counsel — National Grid