NAWJ Monthly Update May 2018

Written by National Association of Women Judges|May 16, 2018|Monthly Update Archive

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May 2018

In This Issue:



I am energized and inspired after attending the 14th Biennial International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) Conference in Buenos Aires. There were 900 women judges from 73 countries who attended. Over 100 NAWJ members and their guests were present to support Past NAWJ President Hon. Vanessa Ruiz as the newly installed IAWJ President. The U.S. delegation celebrated President Ruiz in fine fashion following her installation; we waived red, white and blue scarves and American flags and joined her on stage or in front of the platform dancing to the tunes of "Vida" by Ricky Martin and "We Are Family" by Sister Sledge. Hon. Lisette Shirdan-Harris was unanimously voted to serve another term as International Director. The U.S. delegation sincerely thanks Judge Shirdan-Harris for the various emails she forwarded to assist us with preparing for the conference and informing us of any updates.

Congratulations Judge Ruiz and Judge Shirdan-Harris. We wish you all the best in your respective roles and know that your leadership terms will be successful. You can read more about the IAWJ Conference in Judge Shirdan-Harris' report, which is included in this monthly update. Feel free to click here to view some of my photos from the IAWJ Conference. I also congratulate the outgoing IAWJ President, Hon. Susana Medina, for her hard work and salute her for her goal of "More Women, More Justice."

I extend sincere thanks to all who gathered for our 2018 NAWJ Midyear Meeting, "The Emerging Legal Landscape: Navigating a Path to the Future" and played a role in the meeting's success. You can read more about the meeting in my separate report in this monthly update and view the online photo gallery. The NAWJ board met during the midyear and unanimously voted to accept the Law School Outreach Committee's proposal to establish a $500.00 scholarship to a law school student at each Annual Conference, which will commence at our 40th Annual Conference in San Antonio. This August, law schools in the Texas area will be invited to apply for the scholarship and will be required to write an essay on the conference theme "Shaping the Future of Justice in this Emerging Legal Landscape." The Law School Outreach Committee will establish the scholarship criteria, grade the essays and select the recipient. On behalf of the Law School Outreach Committee, I sincerely thank the NAWJ Board and the Chairs of the 2018 and 2019 Annual Conferences for their support of the committee's mission to build the pipeline to the judiciary through strengthening NAWJ's relationship with law schools.

As you are aware, Mary Kathleen Todd will again join the NAWJ family as NAWJ Administrator from May 15-September 30, 2018. She will oversee and guide our administrative needs while we are in search of a new Executive Director (ED). The search committee has prepared a comprehensive job description for the ED position, which was posted on our website and various outlets on April 18th. Please view the ED job description in this monthly update and encourage qualified applicants to apply. I extend sincere thanks to the co-chairs of the search committee, Past NAWJ President, Hon. Lisa S. Walsh, and NAWJ Secretary, Hon. Bernadette D'Souza, and committee members for their diligence and commitment to identifying someone who will lead our organization and ensure that we remain the leading voice for women judges. We extend sincere thanks to our outgoing Executive Director, Marie E. Komisar, and wish her the best.

Please save the dates of July 17-18, 2018 for our Legislative Caucus, #WETOO IN THE LEGAL WORKPLACE" in Washington, D.C., which Deloitte & Touche and the Women's Bar Association of D.C. will co-sponsor. We sincerely thank Deloitte & Touche for hosting an evening reception on July 17, 2018. We also thank Resource Board Co-Chair, Karen Johnson-McKewan, Esq., of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP for referring us to Beth Goldman, Esq., a partner at Orrick, and Andrew R. Parker, a paralegal. They assisted us in applying for trademark protection for "#WETOOIN THE LEGAL WORKPLACE," which we intend to use for future branding and marketing purposes.

In recognition of Mother's Day, I honor all NAWJ members who are mothers or who have mentored or served as a mother to someone. I particularly wish to highlight and honor the mothers of this organization, the Hon. Joan Dempsey Klein and the late Hon. Vaino Hassan Spencer, as well as the mother of IAWJ, Hon. Arlene Pacht (Ret.), for their vision and leadership. Judge Pacht was unable to attend the IAWJ Conference due to health issues. Judge Pacht's name was constantly mentioned throughout the conference and her presence was truly felt. We sent a plant and get well wishes to Judge Pacht on behalf of the NAWJ board and membership. Judge Pacht, we know that you are a fighter and that you will regain your health and strength soon. You are in our thoughts and prayers for a full recovery.

Lastly, I wish to honor my mother, Ms. Eleanor Kennedy, who is affectionately known as an honorary NAWJ member. I was truly blessed that she traveled with me to the IAWJ Conference to witness the strength and tenacity of so many women judges.


Hon. Tanya R. Kennedy
President, National Association of Women Judges


NAWJ will convene its 13th Annual Meeting with the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues (Congressional Women's Caucus) on Capitol Hill in the Capitol Visitors Center, which Deloitte & Touche and the Women's Bar Association of D.C, will co-sponsor. We invite all members to join our meeting to explore how we can ensure that women thrive in healthy working environments free of sexual harassment and intimidation. Panel details will be shared in upcoming notices.

Deloitte & Touche will host a reception the evening prior, Tuesday July 17, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on the Rooftop Penthouse at their downtown office in Washington, D.C.

RSVP (which is required) to Lavinia Cousin at for the Meeting and Reception.


I wish to thank the NAWJ leadership for having afforded me the privilege of representing NAWJ as its Executive Director for the past ten years. NAWJ has been such a huge part of my life and I will be forever changed by the experience. I want to thank the entire Board for the lovely silver statue presented to me at NAWJ Midyear Meeting. I have placed it in a place of honor so that I can be reminded every day of my time with you. I am so touched and grateful for all of the well wishes and supporters from those who are my life-long friends. I am proud to share below some of the special moments from this incredible run in no particular order, as all my time with NAWJ has been very special.

Highlights and key accomplishments during my tenure 2008-2018:
• Raised over 1 million dollars in unrestricted funds during my tenure, not counting the numerous grants written and managed under my direction including multi- year grants from the State Justice Institute (SJI), the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), and the International Association of Trial Lawyers Foundation (IATL);
• Celebrated and arranged under the guidance of Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, the premiere of Janet Langhart Cohen's one act play "Anne and Emmett" at the U.S. Supreme Court hosted by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg;
• Expanded NAWJ fund raising efforts to include additional corporate sponsors resulting in on-going sponsorships and relationships with the NAWJ Landmark sponsorships and Resource Board members;
• Hired the accounting firm of Calibre to manage NAWJ's financial and auditing processes and, day to day accounting operations. Thanks and kudos to Yves Dinte, one of Calibre's Accounting firm's shining stars, who has put in place new procedures resulting in significant savings for NAWJ;
• Participated with the Human Trafficking Collaborative headed up by Judge Elizabeth Lee and John Martin and Steve Weller from the Center for Public Policy resulting in the publication of the "A Guide to Human Trafficking for State Courts";
• Represented NAWJ at the celebration of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women's Act at the National Archives;
• Represented NAWJ along with Hon. Nan Duffly at the hearings for Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, at which time Judge Duffly testified on behalf of the Justice's nomination hearings;
• Represented NAWJ at the White House press conference's announcement of the nomination of Justice Sonya Sotomayor;
• Attended several receptions at the home of Jill and then Vice President Joe Biden along with NAWJ Judges, Anna Blackburne- Rigsby, Julie Frantz and Joan Churchill;
• Met with high level government leaders at the Executive Office Building with Judge Julie Frantz during her tenure to discuss and inform the government agencies about NAWJ programs, including issues on human trafficking, domestic violence and immigration;
• Oversaw all operations regarding 2-3 conferences each year along with the three-year planning of the very successful 2016 Biennial Conference;
• Fostered collaborative relationships with related bar associations on the state, local and national levels;
• Facilitated and negotiated a major office move resulting in a significant savings to NAWJ;
• Worked successfully with ten NAWJ presidents assisting with their individual goals and respective priorities for their tenures as President. They are as follows: Hon. La Tia W. Martin 2008-09, Hon. Dana Fabe 2009-10, Hon. Marjorie Laird Carter 210-11, Hon. Amy L. Nechtem, 2011-12, Hon. Joan V. Churchill 2012-13, Hon. Anna Blackburne-Rigsby 2013-14, Hon. Julie E. Frantz 2014-15, Hon. Lisa S. Walsh 2015-16, Hon. Diane Becton 2016-2017, and Hon. Tanya R. Kennedy 2017-2018
• Positioned NAWJ to take the next steps, under the guidance and leadership of Judge Amy Nechtem, to undertake the Sustainability Committee's charge to move forward in the selection of a company to implement NAWJ's strategic plan;
• Worked closely with a graphic artist to update NAWJ's branding giving NAWJ an updated logo, color pallet, membership application and marketing materials, resulting in a fresh and beautiful new image for NAWJ;
• Secured numerous written letters of recognition from the highest levels of government officials acknowledging NAWJ's important work. Those letters include correspondence from President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, and U.S. Supreme Court Justices: Sonya Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
• Under the strong leadership of Judge Amy Nechtem, the Sustainability Committee is now financially positioned to begin its work and to make recommendations on how best to move NAWJ forward;

I sincerely wish NAWJ's leadership and membership members the best of luck going forward. I will forever be your most ardent good will ambassador and only a phone call away to assist when and if in need.

Warmly and forever,

Marie Komisar

Marie Komisar


A search committee has been formed to identify NAWJ's next Executive Director. The job description and additional information may be found here.


(Click here to view a gallery of midyear meeting photos.)

On April 12-14, 2018, NAWJ descended onto the vibrant borough of Brooklyn, New York to convene its 2018 Midyear Meeting, "The Emerging Legal Landscape: Navigating A Path to the Future" at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge. Meeting in New York was particularly meaningful for NAWJ, as its last conference in this storied city was held a month after the 9/11 tragedy. Brooklyn has experienced a major renaissance since then and was an ideal place to convene NAWJ's Midyear since it is one of the most progressive hubs of diversity in the world, home to many innovative and diverse companies and start-ups, and thus the ideal setting to highlight NAWJ's mission for equal access to justice for all.

Members, sponsors and guests gathered for a lively welcome reception hosted by Ms. Cheryl Wills, Spectrum News NY1 Anchor of "Live at Ten and Host of "In Focus with Cheryl Wills" and featuring the musical sounds of Anna Caldwell and Friends. Hon. Alan Scheinkman, Presiding Justice, Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department and Hon. Lawrence Knipel, Administrative Judge for Civil Matters, Second Judicial Department provided welcome remarks. Carolyn Pokorny, Esq. Chief Special Counsel for Ethics, Risk and Compliance for Governor Andrew Cuomo also attended the welcome reception in support of NAWJ. Designer Nina McLemore featured her exquisite line of couture clothing during the welcome reception and will donate 10% of the sales proceeds to the NAWJ Color of Justice program. Thank you, Ms. McLemore, for your support of NAWJ.

Thought leaders from across the nation gathered to explore the ever-changing legal landscape and tangible strategies to address those challenges. The meeting featured forward-thinking CLE eligible educational panels featuring esteemed professionals at the forefront of their respective fields to address bail reform, the opioid crisis; non-consensual porn ("revenge porn"); the application of artificial intelligence in the legal profession and to present a live hack demonstration to illustrate the heightened importance of cybersecurity. The meeting also featured discussions on maintaining your mental well-being; developing effective strategies on building your personal brand to further your career; and to attract the next generation of women judges and attorneys through effective outreach to millennials.

The inaugural "Partner in Justice Award" was presented to Chirlane McCray, the First Lady of the City of New York, who also served as the keynote speaker, and to Robert M. Kaufman, Esq. of Proskauer Rose, LLP, the longest serving NAWJ Resource Board Member. Errol Louis, Political Anchor of Spectrum News NY 1 and Host of "Inside City Hall" served as the luncheon emcee. Ron Grant, Host of "Ron Grant and Friends" at Mist Harlem provided a musical tribute to the honorees. Fatimah Gilliam, Esq., the grandniece of NAWJ co-founder Hon. Vaino Hassan Spencer provided a memorable and moving history lesson about Hon. Spencer's contributions to the development of women in the legal profession and beyond, as well as her continuing legacy. Alicia Bannon, Esq., Senior Counsel, Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice discussed her organization's work with respect to judicial elections and the independence of the judiciary. We sincerely thank Ms. Gilliam for allowing us to share her luncheon remarks and photos of Hon. Vaino Spencer, which will be featured in our upcoming Counterbalance newsletter.

Brooklyn Borough President Hon. Eric Adams, Hon. Dora I. Irizarry, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of New York, and Hon. Frank Seddio, County Leader of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, greeted NAWJ members and guests at the closing reception at Brooklyn Borough Hall. NAWJ members and guests also enjoyed a "Night on Broadway" to enjoy the evening performance of "Saint Joan," featuring actress Condola Rashad who has been nominated for a Tony award for her portrayal of Joan of Arc.

The conference program lists the many persons, organizations, and sponsors who were instrumental in the Meeting's success. Special recognition goes to Midyear Conference Co-Chairs, Hon. Cheryl J. Gonzales and Hon. Kathy J. King; Conference Manager Wanda Mann; Education Committee Co-Chairs, Professor Judith Resnik and the 36th NAWJ President, Hon. Lisa S. Walsh; and Friends Committee Chairs, Tracee E. Davis, Esq. and Rudyard F. Whyte, Esq., Volunteer Coordinator, Jessica Marzan of J. Marie Events, Inc.; and all sponsors and volunteers for their steadfast support of NAWJ. THANK YOU!

"Always, our mission remains the same: making the law accessible to all."

(Dorothy Chou Proudfoot, Attorney with the San Francisco Rent Board and program small group discussion leader; Alice Purdy, Attorney with Flicker, Kerin, Kruger & Bissada and Steering Committee Member; Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos, San Francisco Superior Court and Program Co-Chair; Judge Charlene Padovani Kiesselbach, San Francisco Superior Court and Program Founder and Co-Chair; Eliza Rodrigues, Attorney and Steering Committee Member; and Kelly Robbins, Attorney with Robbins Family Law and Steering Committee Member)

On April 17, 2018, sixty-four high school students from the Holy Names High School and the Balboa High School (a participant since the program's inception) participated in the San Francisco Color of Justice Program. This half-day program exposed students to demonstrations by attorneys practicing their skills and candid discussions by judges and lawyers about their path to a legal career, as well as an opportunity to informally talk with lawyers in small group sessions. The program included a mock closing argument, a client interview, a panel discussion, and small group meetings.

Judge Charlene Padovani Kiesselbach (San Francisco Superior Court) welcomed the students and charged them to pursue a career in the law. She explained how a fair system of justice results from having lawyers and judges from diverse backgrounds and communities. She particularly stressed that there are many paths to becoming a lawyer and that one need not attend a certain school, have a particular family background, or live in a special neighborhood to become a lawyer.

Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos (San Francisco Superior Court) introduced nationally recognized litigation attorneys, James Brosnahan and Arturo Gonzalez, both partners at Morrison & Foerster, who presented a mock closing argument for a teenage cyber-bullying case. After presenting riveting opposing arguments, the attorneys shared their own personal stories of overcoming economic and academic challenges.

Jean Roland, Assistant District Attorney, San Francisco District Attorney's Office, and Patricia Lee, Deputy Public Defender, San Francisco Public Defender's Office, presented a mock juvenile detention proceeding. Ms. Lee conducted a client interview of a juvenile defendant accused of shoplifting and assault using two student volunteers, and Roland interviewed the loss prevention officer who apprehended the juvenile. The attorneys then argued a detention motion.

Drucilla Stender Ramey, Dean Emerita, Golden Gate University School of Law, and former NAWJ Executive Director, moderated a lively and candid discussion among Judges Newton Lam and Daniel Flores, San Francisco Superior Court, and Bobbie Wilson, Partner, Perkins Coie, about their challenges as persons of color pursuing a career in the law.

The students then obtained bag lunches and divided into small groups for further discussions with volunteer attorneys from Queen's Bench. This provided the students with an opportunity to discuss legal issues raised in demonstrations, as well as any questions about attending law school and the roles and experiences of lawyers and judges.

After re-assembling for a closing ceremony with certificates of completion for each student, the students returned to their schools. The program was summed up by one student: "It was Great!"

The Program Co-Chair, Judge Charlene Padovani Kiesselbach, established the San Francisco Color of Justice Program in 2004, the first such program in California. In 2012, the program received the Public Service Award by the National Conference of Women's Bar Associations. The California Women Lawyers and Queen's Bench co-sponsored the program and their generous support allows NAWJ to host this program each year to high school students in the San Francisco area. Judge Suzanne Ramos Balanos served as Program Co-Chair and the members of the Steering Committee were Drucilla Stender Ramey; Kelly Robbins, Robbins Family Law; Eliza Rodrigues, Attorney at Law; and Alice Purdy, Flicker, Kerin, Kruger & Bissada.

Each year, the committee evaluates the program to ensure that it remains relevant to students. Next year, students from a school in the Tenderloin Neighborhood of San Francisco will be invited to participate. "Always, our mission remains the same: making the law accessible to All."


A Report by Judge Lisette Shirdan-Harris, NAWJ International Director

Over 100 U.S. judges and their guests converged upon Buenos Aires, Argentina for the 14th IAWJ Biennial International Conference "Building Bridges Between Women Judges of the World." The U.S. delegation joined 800 judges from around the world representing 73 countries to share experiences, renew old acquaintances, and make new friends. It was also a great chance to spend time with fellow NAWJ members from around the country.

Rainy weather did not deter the 900 attendees from taking in sights, sounds, and tastes of Argentina. From the view outside of the conference venue, "Puente de la Mujer (Bridge of Women)," to the Tango Shows and outdoor "hippie fairs", it was a trip and conference to remember.

The sessions started with the Opening Ceremony at the beautiful Teatro Colon with greetings from 2016-2018 IAWJ President Susana Medina of Argentina, and the Vice-President of the Supreme Court of Argentina, Elena Highton de Nolasco, followed by a rousing Roll Call of Nations. Topics for the conference ranged from a showing of the movie "The Judge" about women judges breaking barriers in Palestine to a session on "New Technologies and Gender," which I had the honor of moderating. Attendees were invited guests at a lovely reception at the U.S. Embassy in Argentina.

At the North American Regional meeting, the U.S. delegation met their Canadian counterparts and elected the North American delegates to the board for 2018-2020. Judge Lisette Shirdan-Harris thanked members for re-electing her to a two-year term as NAWJ delegate to the IAWJ board: "Thank you to our President, Justice Tanya R. Kennedy, for the formal nomination on behalf of NAWJ members as your International Director, and for Judges Ann Walsh Bradley and Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, for seconding in unison and for your continued support." NAWJ President Justice Tanya R. Kennedy held a brief meeting with the U.S. delegation.

At the Closing Business meeting on Saturday, NAWJ Past President Judge Vanessa Ruiz was installed as the 2018-2020 IAWJ President and celebrated with the entire U.S. delegation joining her on stage with matching red, white, and blue scarves, U.S. flags and musical instruments singing along to Ricky Martin's "Vida" and ending with Sister Sledge's "We are Family." Special thanks to NAWJ Past President Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, former NAWJ International Director Judge Ann Walsh Bradley and Irma Ruiz (Judge Ruiz's sister), who, along with me, came up with the best way to celebrate our new IAWJ President—it took a couple of conference calls and a few song try-outs, but finally came up with the winning combination. The Closing Gala included the IAWJ tradition Parade of Nations; each attendee dressed in their country's native attire strode in to cheers from all. The U.S. came in with all of our fabulous individuality! There were glitches, flaws, fun, learning, exchanges, and most of all, sisterhood in Argentina.

Everyone is looking forward to NAWJ 2018 Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas; NAWJ 2019 Annual Conference in Los Angeles, California, and IAWJ 2020 Biennial in Auckland, New Zealand.



Joining NAWJ in October at its 40th Annual Conference will be Monika Bickert, Head of Product Policy and Counterterrorism at Facebook, and renowned journalist Dan Rather.

Monika Bickert is Facebook's head of product policy and counterterrorism. Her global team manages the policies for what types of content can be shared on Facebook and how advertisers and developers can interact with the site. Bickert joined Facebook in 2012 as lead security counsel, advising the company on matters including child safety and data security. She was previously resident legal advisor at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, where she specialized in Southeast Asian rule-of-law development and response to child exploitation and human trafficking. She also served as Assistant United States Attorney for eleven years in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, prosecuting federal crimes ranging from public corruption to gang-related violence.

Dan Rather has interviewed every President since Eisenhower and, over that time, personally covered almost every important dateline in the United States and around the world. Mr. Rather joined CBS News in 1962. He quickly rose through the ranks, and in 1981 he assumed the position of Anchor and Managing Editor of the CBS Evening News-a post he held for 24 years. His reporting across the network helped turn 60 Minutes into an institution, launched 48 Hours as an innovative news magazine program, and shaped countless specials and documentaries. Upon leaving CBS, Mr. Rather returned to the in-depth reporting he always loved, creating the Emmy Award winning Dan Rather Reports on HDNet. Now, building upon that foundation, he is president and CEO of News and Guts, an independent production company he founded which specializes in high-quality non-fiction content across a range of traditional and digital distribution channels.

For more information on hotel and registration, click here.


On April 18th, the NAWJ Law School Outreach Committee co-sponsored a successful speed mentoring program at St. John's School of Law in Queens with the Queens County Women's Bar Association, the law firm of Ahmuty, Demers & McManus and the law school's Career Development Office. Hon. Sally E. Unger, Co-Chair of the Law School Outreach Committee, and Lourdes Ventura, Esq., a Partner at Ahmuty, Demers & McManus were the coordinating team for this event. Approximately 50 mentors and mentees attended, including Michael A. Simons, the Dean of the law school, and Hon. Marguerite Grays, President-Elect of NAWJ's New York Chapter. The committee looks forward to hosting similar programs in the future.


Law School Outreach Committee Co-Chairs Hon. Colleen Clark (District 12-CO), Hon. Lisa M. Fisher (District 2 -Upstate NY), Professor Tracy McCormack (District 11-TX), Hon. Marylou Muirhead (District 1—MA) and Hon. Sally E. Unger (District 2- NYC -Queens) will be featured in upcoming monthly updates.

The mission of the Law School Outreach Committee is to build the pipeline to the judiciary by expanding NAWJ's presence throughout the nation's law schools by hosting programs at law schools and strengthening its relationships with Law School Deans, Professors and Students. Our goal is to have a Law School Outreach Committee Co-Chair in each district. Please contact President Kennedy at if you are interested in serving as co-chair of this committee.


New York State Supreme Court, New York County

Elected in 2013, the Honorable Debra A. James serves as Justice of New York State Supreme Court (trial court of plenary jurisdiction) in New York County. Prior to her election, she served as an Acting Supreme Court Justice. Assigned to the Civil Branch, Justice James has presided over hundreds of civil actions in every type of case, and handled arraignments in the New York City Criminal Court. Justice James has issued hundreds of opinions, many of which have been published, and most affirmed on appeal.

An active NAWJ member and Chair of the New York Chapter's Women in Prison Committee, Justice James facilitated collaboration between the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice and the Correctional Association of New York. The two groups' joint program issued a report entitled "From Protection to Punishment: Post-Conviction Barriers to Justice for Domestic Violence Survivor-Defendants in New York State." NAWJ honored Justice James in 2010 with its Mattie Belle Davis Award for her work in support of women in prison, which included planning re-entry workshops for women completing their sentences. Justice James is President-Elect of the Association of Supreme Court Justices of the State of New York; a member of the Executive Committee of the New York City Bar Association; member of the President's Council of Cornell Women; and the Cornell Law Dean Advisory Committee.

Justice James commenced her judicial career in New York City's Civil Court upon her election in 1994. Justice James received her law degree from Cornell Law School and graduated cum laude in American Government & Politics from Cornell University.


Superior Court of Washington, Pierce County

The Honorable G. Helen Whitener has served as a Judge on the Pierce County Superior Court since 2015 when she was appointed to the bench by Governor Jay Inslee. Prior to her appointment, Judge Whitener served as a Judge on the Washington State Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, and as a pro-tem judge in Pierce County District Court and the City of Tacoma Municipal Court. She also worked as a prosecutor and defense attorney. Judge Whitener was appointed by the Washington State Supreme Court to the Washington State Minority and Justice Commission, and the Office of Civil Legal Aid Oversight Committee. She serves as a Co-Chair of the Washington State Superior Court Judges' Association – Equity and Fairness Committee and has helped advise and shape QLaw's vision as a member of the Advisory Council for the QLaw Association of Washington. Judge Whitener is a member of the International Association of LGBT Judges, the American Judges Association, and other civic minded organizations.

Born and raised in the beautiful Caribbean island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, Judge Whitener arrived in the United States at the age of 16 to attend Baruch College, City University of New York (1988), where she earned a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and International Marketing. Judge Whitener entered Seattle University School of Law in 1995 and obtained her Juris Doctor degree (1998). Judge Whitener is the first immigrant-born judge of her court, the second black woman on her bench and the first openly black LGBT judge in the State of Washington. She is very active locally, nationally, and internationally. She often speaks about human rights, access to justice, and the judiciary's responsibility to ensure the rights, basic dignity and respect for all who appear in judicial proceedings. In 2015, Judge Whitener visited her home country of Trinidad and Tobago, at the request of the U.S. Embassy, to speak about human rights.

Last month, we acknowledged Judge Whitener for serving as the catalyst for securing a commitment from the Washington State Judges' Association to produce and fund Color of Justice Programs throughout the state of Washington.


Lauren Woon brings nearly a decade of court and private practice experience to NAWJ, including positions with district and magistrate judges at the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of California, and as an attorney with Littler Mendelson, a firm that represents management in employment and labor matters. Ms. Woon currently serves as a staff attorney for the San Diego Superior Court, where she researches, analyzes and advises on a variety of criminal and civil matters. She obtained her law degree from University of San Diego School of Law, and bachelor's degrees in psychology and criminology from University of California at Irvine. Notable career accomplishments and accolades include: providing counsel to Fortune 500 companies; serving as a two-time academy fellow in the National Employment Law Council; appointed to the 2015 Super Lawyers' list of Rising Stars; and Distinguished Legal Writing Award from the Burton Foundation in association with the Library of Congress.

Ms. Woon prioritizes giving back. At the San Diego Superior Court, she manages the Judicial Internship Program and enjoys mentoring the next generation of lawyers who will further the aims of fairness, equal access, and justice through the work of the courts. She also holds a role in the philanthropy committee for the San Diego Ocean Beach Woman's Club, which is dedicated to civic, social and educational development. Her volunteer work raises awareness of the club's philanthropic initiatives that are designed to support schools, libraries, historical societies, and youth programs. In her free time, she takes surfing lessons and spends time with her English Bulldog rescue named Lola. Ms. Woon volunteers for the following NAWJ programs "Freedom Through Words" Book Club at the Las Colinas Women's Re-Entry and Detention Facility and the San Diego Color of Justice.

NAWJ welcomes new member Lauren Woon.


On May 21, 2018, Georgetown University Center for Juvenile Justice Reform will honor NAWJ Past President and Judicial Education Committee Co-Chair, Hon. Cindy S. Lederman (11th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, Children's Division) with its 2018 Janet Reno Women's Leadership Award. Read more about Judge Lederman here.

The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform established the Janet Reno Endowment, which supports the Women's Leadership Award that honor women leaders who champion the causes to which Janet Reno dedicated her career. This annual award is bestowed upon a woman who has demonstrated a commitment and ability to effect change in her community or organization to benefit youth, particularly those at-risk of entering the juvenile justice or child welfare systems. Throughout her career, Janet Reno, the nation's first woman Attorney General, distinguished herself as a courageous advocate for justice and equality, proving her strong commitment to improving the administration of this country's system of justice, with a focus on the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.


On April 25, 2018, longtime NAWJ member and co-chair of NAWJ's Judicial Education Committee, Yale Law School Professor Judith Resnik, was selected as a member of the 2018 class of Andrew Carnegie Fellows and awarded a grant to support innovative scholarship on pressing contemporary issues.

Professor Resnik is among a group of 31 scholars and writers to receive the two-year grants which enable recipients to have time for sustained research and writing. Professor Resnik, the Arthur Liman Professor of Law and founding director of the Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest Law, received the fellowship to write The Impermissible in Punishment: Whipping, Isolating, Disenfranchising—and Imprisoning. As she explains, the "question of punishment is not, of course, new, but what happens after sentencing and in prison has not been much in focus."

Read more from Yale Law School's news release here.

MAY 31, 2018, WASHINGTON, D.C.

JUSTRAC will host a symposium on "Innovation and Technology in Rule of Law Programming: Enforcement, Engagement, and E-Governance" on May 31 at the U.S. Institute of Peace, in Washington, D.C. Additional information about the symposium may be found here. The symposium, which marks the third in a series of JUSTRAC symposia focused on innovation in rule of law programming, is free and open to the public, and lunch and refreshments are provided.

JUSTRAC is a cooperative agreement between the Rule of Law Collaborative, University of South Carolina, and the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, U.S. Department of State. Established in 2014, JUSTRAC is designed to:

• Improve the skills and knowledge of individuals funding, designing, managing, or implementing justice sector programs in post-conflict and transitional states;
• Increase opportunities for coordination and collaboration among USG donors, implementers, NGOs, academic institutions, international organizations, foreign governments, and multilateral institutions;
• Strengthen justice sector programming to have real impact on host countries' ability to reform their legal systems; and
• Provide a multitude of stakeholders the opportunity to share their experiences and lessons regarding justice sector programming

Please contact Hamid Khan at



on the AmaCerto with Amawaterways Cruise Line

Discover a wealth of art, history and cultural treasures. From Budapest, journey to Bratislava, Vienna, Passau and the 2,000-year-old town of Regensburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit magnificent cathedrals and Baroque abbeys; sample Vienna's famous sacher torte cake; experience breath taking scenery of the Wachau Valley winemaking region; and traverse Europe's Continental Divide.



2 night pre cruise package – Budapest: $520 pp double occupancy, $820 single
3 night post cruise package – Prague: $840 pp double occupancy, $1,290 single
For more information on how to reserve cabin, register with NAWJ, and the Amawaterways Cruise Line visit the event page at NAWJ here.


The partnership between NAWJ and GEICO provides insurance discounts to NAWJ members. Contact GEICO for a free quote on auto insurance to see how much you could be saving. Remember to mention your NAWJ affiliation since you could qualify for an exclusive member savings opportunity. Visit (special portal here) or call 1-800-368-2734 for your free rate quote. GEICO also can help you find great rates on homeowners, renters, motorcycle insurance, and more.

NAWJ District two will hosting a Color of Justice Program on May 19 at Albany Law School in Albany, New York for approximately 50 high school students. Contact District Director Judge Cenceria P. Edwards and program chair Judge Helena Heath for more information.

NAWJ Legislative Caucus Reception and Meeting, July 17-18, 2018. Deloitte & Touche will host a reception the evening prior, Tuesday July 17, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on the Rooftop Penthouse at their downtown office in Washington, D.C. RSVP required to Program details to follow.

NAWJ 40th Annual Conference - "Shaping the Future of Justice in the Emerging Legal Landscape," October 3-7, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency Riverwalk in San Antonio, TX.

Cruise the Danube with NAWJ, May 5-12, 2019, for seven nights, from Budapest to Nuremberg on the AmaCerto with Amawaterways Cruise Line. Book a cabin with NAWJ's group with Maija Groden, Tzell Travel Group. Email: Phone: (212) 944-2121, ext. 2882.

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