January 2024 President's Letter

Written by National Association of Women Judges|January 02, 2024|Monthly Update Archive

Happy New Year! 

karen-sage.pngAt NAWJ, we’re proud of the work we’ve done throughout 2023 and excited for what is to come. I finished out last year with the honor of attending the funeral of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor with NAWJ past president and current president of the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and chair of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) Board of Directors Anna Blackburne-Rigsby.  As many of you know, Justice O’Connor was not just a member of NAWJ, but an active participant in our organization.  Be on the lookout for the next issue of Counterbalance for photos and memories of her contributions to NAWJ.

As we ring in 2024, I look forward to all that will be happening this year.  The new year gives us a chance to celebrate our accomplishments and reflect on what matters to us. As my term as president begins, I’ve recently thought a lot about how fortunate I am to be involved in this incredible organization.  Many of us are active in our local and state bar associations; some of us are active in the ABA, FBA, ABOTA and other national associations as well.  However, the National Association of Women Judges is unique in its national scale and international perspective. Ours is the only organization providing unmatched education and training through free webinars, networking and mentorship opportunities, and a national community dedicated to serving women judges at all levels of the judiciary.  In addition, our 14 districts provide services to their communities through our Women in Prison, MentorJet, Color of Justice programs and many others.  These programs work directly to fulfill our mission of equal justice and access to our courts while improving the lives of women and girls in our communities.

Notwithstanding the opportunities we give our members to contribute to their communities, when we poll our membership, their favorite aspect of our organization is the chance to interact with other judges during our conferences.  My own first NAWJ mid-year conference in 2012 in Cambridge, Massachusetts introduced me to a new world of community, collaboration, and education. I remember vividly the conversation with relatively newly appointed Justice Elena Kagan moderated by her successor as Harvard Law Dean, Martha Minow.  Justice Kagan provided insight to the general workings of the Supreme court that were fascinating.  The conference underscored the importance of the work we do at NAWJ each year. Friendships are made during these conferences that last decades.  Most importantly, these conferences give us as women judges the chance to learn more about the challenges facing other communities so that we can work together to make the world a better place.

That is why I am happy to announce that we have finalized the dates and venue for our next mid-year meeting.  I am so excited to welcome you all to Austin on April 4-6, 2024.  With our venue booked, planning for the midyear conference can now begin in earnest. We will meet at the lovely Hotel Van Zandt in the historic Rainey Street District of downtown Austin.  For those of you who have never been to Austin, this will be the perfect opportunity to sample all this great city has to offer.  I am currently putting together an education committee and a friends committee to help organize the event.  We will also be reaching out to local colleges and law schools for our Planting the Seed:  Pathway to a Legal Career initiative where we bring undergraduate and law students to the conference to meet with them, mentor them, and share our own pathways to the bench.  Let me know if you are interested in serving on any of these committees.

However, we still have plenty to look forward to this year even before our midyear conference. On January 17th, we will be hosting a webinar entitled Why We Need a Diversity and Inclusion Plan. This webinar will review our current Diversity and Inclusion strategy and discuss tangible actions that we can take both as an organization and as individual community members to advance diversity and inclusion within the legal profession. Additionally, I hope to see many of our New York members at the NYSBA annual meeting, which I’ll be attending on behalf of NAWJ on January 19th.

At NAWJ, we are excited about the year ahead and the opportunities it brings. I look forward to working with you all this year.  


Karen Sage
President, National Association of Women Judges

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