September 2021 President's Letter

Written by National Association of Women Judges|September 02, 2021|Monthly Update Archive

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

judge-donohue---circle.pngNAWJ members continue to inspire me with their dedication. You fulfill the mission of the organization in a myriad of ways. Below are just a few examples of the work our dedicated members are engaged in.

Judges Lisa Walsh and Vanessa Ruiz, along with IAWJ President Justice Susan Glazebrook, IAWJ member Judge Patricia Whalen and others have been working tirelessly to assist our Afghan sister judges, several of whom have received death threats and are living in hiding for fear of retaliation. Please see the attached links for more information on the frightening situation and the invaluable and selfless work our members are doing to help evacuate the brave women in Afghanistan.

NAWJ Statement on Afghanistan | National Association of Women Judges

Taliban threats, Biden’s deadline force stateside scramble to evacuate female Afghan judges (

Opinion | No deadline should stand in the way of the evacuating U.S. citizens and Afghan partners - The Washington Post

Afghanistan: As Taliban gains ground, female judges fear for their safety | PBS NewsHour Weekend

The Women in Prison Committee, co-chaired by Judges Cheryl Gonzales and Brenda Murray, continue to advocate for improvements for incarcerated women, as they have for nearly two decades. The committee met this year with the new Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and separately advocated for an increase in federal funds in the DOJ budget for women’s prison programs. Most recently, the committee reached out to New Jersey Governor, Phil Murphy, offering expertise and assistance to improve conditions at the only New Jersey facility for women, which had been slated for closure due to the intolerable environment within.

Judge Ann Breen-Greco and other District 8 members carried on the NAWJ tradition of mentoring young girls by holding a meeting with Polished Pebbles late last month. Polished Pebbles is a mentoring group for girls on the South and West sides of Chicago. The participants heard from lawyers and judges about career paths in the legal field.

Judge Julie Frantz and Justice Nan Duffly have been working for the last two years on updates to the Bylaws. Along with Judges Toni Clarke and Karen Sage, Judge Frantz finalized the revisions, which must comply with D.C. law. A pro bono attorney who specializes in non-profit and corporate governance has reviewed the revisions, which will be presented 30 days in advance of the Annual Meeting and submitted for approval on October 9, 2021.

A Town Hall has been scheduled for Saturday, September 25, 2021 at 12:00 pm Eastern time for members to discuss the resolutions that will be voted upon at the Annual Meeting. Look for a separate email on September 7th containing materials about the two resolutions and further information.

Turning to the Annual Conference, one of the traditions is the recognition of members who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and commitment to NAWJ. There are many such members. This year, it is my honor to present the following awards:

Joan Dempsey Klein Award (selected by the Awards Committee): Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby.

Florence K. Murray Award (selected by the Awards Committee): Margaret Behm, Esq.

Justice Vaino Spencer Award (selected by the President): Judge Pamela Washington

Mattie Belle Davis Award (selected by the President in consultation with the Executive Committee): Nicole Erb, Esq.

Norma Wikler Excellence in Service Award (Selected by the President): Judge Orlinda Naranjo and Commissioner Pennie McLaughlin

Thanks to all of the above-mentioned members and to all of each of you. The work that you do truly helps “Advance Justice Like Never Before.”

Warm Regards,


Judge Karen Donohue

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