October 2021 President's Letter

Written by National Association of Women Judges|October 01, 2021|Monthly Update Archive

Dear NAWJ Colleagues and Friends,

judge-donohue---circle.pngIt has been an honor to lead this incredible organization for the past year.  Thanks to each of you for your enduring commitment to NAWJ’s mission, and for the overwhelming support and encouragement you have extended to me. 

I am thankful for the friendship and support of the NAWJ board, committee chairs and the former presidents who advised me in the past year as we attempted to lead NAWJ to a brighter future.  This year you helped me Advance Justice Like Never Before by working together to address access to justice in rural areas and address the inequities that women, diverse people and people of limited means face daily. We also addressed systemic racism through a number of excellent webinars and educational sessions. I participated in a Racial Justice Round Table sponsored by the National Judicial College and the National Center for State Courts in February. Judge Pamela Washington, Judge Elizabeth White and I continue this work by participating in Blueprint for Racial Equity workgroups. We received a grant from SJI to develop programming related to eliminating racism within the justice system and Commissioner Pennie McLaughlin led a large group of our members in creating the basis for a program entitled “Opening Our Eyes.” The Diversity and Equity Advisory Committee will ask the outgoing board to adopt their recommendations for a standing committee at the next board meeting. Of course, there is much more work to eradicate discrimination of all kinds. I will continue this work for years to come, as will each of you.

Our committees and District Directors have been hard at work, sponsoring webinars, book clubs and hosting virtual Color of Justice programs, just to name a few of the myriad activities spread out over the past year. Through my participation in many of these events – and through the many conversations I’ve had - I have once again learned from you. I celebrate the differences that each of our members bring and I thank you for teaching me and offering your perspectives.

When I began my term, I was concerned that NAWJ would have to shutter our doors due to the precarious financial situation we faced. However, with the assistance of our members and our Executive Director, Laurie Denham, we made great strides towards achieving organizational excellence – one of the pillars of our Strategic Plan. Thank you. I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Francie Teer, our Director of Development, who will hopefully lead us away from the model of relying primarily upon conferences as a source of funding. Thanks also to Brian Gorg and Janelle Mihoc for their tremendous support throughout the year. Another special thanks to Nicole Erb and Sarah London, and to all of our  Resource Board members, who have continuously and generously supported our mission.

Last October, I certainly didn’t expect to serve the entirety of my term under pandemic protocols. While we are still living with COVID-19, I am more than ready to travel and see my NAWJ friends and colleagues in person. Thank you to Judge Barbara Holmes and her dedicated Conference Planning Committee for what promises to be the event of the year. A record number of International Judges will be joining us. I hope to see you all there as well.  You still have time to register. 

In closing, I’d like to thank in-coming President Judge Elizabeth White for her support this year and offer my congratulations and best wishes for an amazing 2021-2022.

Warmest regards,


Judge Karen Donohue

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