March 2023 President's Letter

Written by National Association of Women Judges|March 02, 2023|Monthly Update Archive

toni-clarke-updated.pngAs I write these remarks Black History Month is concluding and Women's History Month is upon us. So, I can't help but reflect upon the many contributions of African Americans and Women, and those who paved the way for the opportunities we enjoy today. During these two Months in particular, it is so important to teach and learn about Black History and Women’s History, the good and the bad, because as has been quoted “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” I am very concerned with the efforts in this country to erase the history and roll back the progress we've made.

Black History Month and Women's History Month make me think back to 1979 when two women judges, one African American and one white, saw the need to form a national organization that supported their sister judges across the country and create an environment where they could learn best practices, promote access to justice, and commiserate without the fear of being accused of not being qualified to hold their positions. Thus, the National Association of Women Judges was founded. The first Conference was held in Los Angeles, CA in 1979 with about 100 members in attendance, 60 of whom were the founding members. It’s appropriate that we’ll be back in California on our 45th Anniversary year in 2024. I pay tribute to and thank those who had the foresight and paved the way for those of us who followed in their footsteps.

In February NAWJ’s Black History Month program was the play The Full Truth which aired on February 15th. Thank you to Judges D’Souza and Perkins for coordinating the program, Judge Handy for writing and sharing the script, and those who participated as the cast. It was a very informative and entertaining program. On February 22nd I had the distinct honor of being on a panel Pathways to the Bench: The Journey to Judgeship as a Woman of Color - In Honor of Black History Month with Judge J. Michelle Childs, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C Circuit and Chief Judge Nannette Brown, U. S. District Court for Louisiana, co-sponsored by the Federal Bar Association and NAWJ. Thank you to the Federal Bar Association, the moderator Lisa Kpor, Esquire, and all those who made the program possible. Both Black History Month programs are now available on the NAWJ website.

We have an ambitious March agenda. On March 11th, in conjunction with the Academy of Court-Appointed Neutrals (ACAN), I will participate on a panel discussing how we can partner with ACAN and other affiliate organizations to promote collaboration and diversity, equity and inclusion.  For Women's History Month, on March 15th I, along with other NAWJ and Federal Bar Association Judges, will participate in a program Women in the Judiciary Working Toward Gender Equality in Public Life as a Parallel Program at the NGO CSW67 Forum during the UN’s 67th Meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women. Also, on March 24th, in conjunction with the ABA 's Commission on Women in the Profession, I will be participating in the program Celebrating Women 's Leadership. In February I recorded, a program for Women's History Month for Spectrum Cable which will air in March, date to be determined. March 29th is Vietnam Veteran's Day. We honor those women in the military who served in Vietnam and other military assignments and posts and thank them for their service.  

Lastly, and certainly not least, plans for the Midyear meeting are coming along nicely. In addition to the leadership and governance component of the meeting, we are planning a Planting the Seed program with local law schools on Thursday, April 20th. Additionally, we will offer a tour of the Naval Academy and will host a reception at the Naval Academy Club on Thursday evening. In addition, on Friday we will offer a dine around. One of the options will be a crab feast for those who want to learn how to pick and eat them. Early registration ends March 1st, and the room block closes March 30th.  Hope to see you in Annapolis, Maryland!

Respectfully submitted,


Judge Toni E. Clarke (Ret)
President, NAWJ

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