New York Women's Bar Association, 132 East 43rd Street, #716, The Chrysler Building, New York, NY, 10017-4019
Message from the President
February 2006

In late January the distressing headlines in the NY Post focused for several days on the lurid allegations that a highly-placed, well-compensated male executive had sexually harassed a highly-placed, well-compensated female executive who worked in the same organization, and that he had encouraged other males in the organization to do the same.

I'm not sure that sexual harrassment is news to us. What I find so repulsive about this story is the way in which it was reported, as if it were intended to elicit a prurient response from the public. We pay so much attention to what is vile in our society that we have no room left to focus on what we do that is noble. There was an anniversary in late January that I'd like to bring to your attention, as it barely made a ripple in the press.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 26, the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation presented medals to several of the Christian citizens of Greece who had helped to save the lives of their Jewish compatriots during the Nazi occupation of Greece. The event was cosponsored by the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce, the American Friends of the Jewish Museum of Greece, and the American Sephardi Federation with Sephardic House. The ceremony took place at the Center for Jewish History at 15 West 16th Street, in the midst of an exhibit entitled "Hidden Children in Occupied Greece"* which is making its first trip to the United States. Two of the "hidden children" were present at the ceremony: Dr. Laura Molho Sard, and Mrs. Rosina Asser Pardo, who has published a book about her experiences. They spoke movingly of the generosity of their fellow countrymen and women who hid them from the occupiers, knowing that the penalty for discovery was death. As I listened to their brief presentations, I felt that I could easily be listening to Harriet Tubman speaking of her experiences along the Underground Railroad. But they were speaking of events that occurred only 63 years ago.

Certainly not all Greek citizens were heroes during the Occupation; estimates are that 87% of the Jewish citizens of Greece were exterminated at that time. However, the focus this night was on those citizens who stood up to evil, many of whom remain unnamed, even today. Of particular interest to me were the stories of Eastern Orthodox clergymen who spoke out against this obvious injustice. I especially enjoyed hearing about events on the island of Zakynthos. The mayor of the island, Loukas Karrer, initially refused to give the Nazis a list of the Jews living on the island. When pressed, the Mayor went to the local Bishop for advice. When the Bishop and the Mayor could no longer hold off the Nazis, they submitted the list-containing only their own two names. In the meantime, they had managed to warn their Jewish neighbors. Not one Jew was deported from the island or killed by the Nazis.

I watched the face of my 11-year-old niece sitting next to me as these stories were told by the survivors. And I thought that this story was the one that was worthy of headlines in our newspapers. So I now have told it to you. Let's all remember it, the next time we see an obvious injustice. "Hidden Children in Occupied Greece" will be on display at the Consulate General of Greece from February 1 through 28, at 69 East 79th Street, from 9 A.M. to 1 P.M.

Speaking of those who take a stand, as we were going to press, we learned that the NYWBA Foundation has been awarded the Public Service Award by the National Conference of Women's Bar Associations. Among other projects, our Foundation's fund-raising efforts provide fellowships for law students at local pro bono agencies for the support of domestic violence victims, immigrants, and other individuals for whom legal services would otherwise not be available. We believe that the Foundation's programs exemplify the best kind of service that women's bar associations provide to the community, and we are delighted to have our belief validated by the NCWBA. The Foundation raises funds for its programs in three ways: through dues "check-offs" from NYWBA members, through an annual giving campaign, and through a series of breakfast seminars that feature speakers on subjects of interest to women lawyers and friends of the Foundation. To date the speakers have been prominent women authors-lawyers, historians, and journalists such as Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times-of recently published books.

The Foundation sells tickets to the breakfasts at a price that includes a tax-deductible contribution, and obtains book donations from the speakers' publishers. The books are autographed and sold at the breakfast to further benefit the fellowship program. The Board asks guests to buy an extra ticket so that a female high-school student can attend. Through this initiative, young women have an opportunity to meet women lawyers, to hear a remarkable speaker on a subject to which they otherwise might not be exposed in high school, and to observe the satisfaction that pro bono work and giving bring to one's life.

So if you haven't already given to our Foundation, or even if you have, please feel free to make a donation by sending a check to the NY Women's Bar Foundation, c/o NYWBA, 551 Fifth Avenue, Suite 3025, New York, NY 10176. That's the best way I know to tell the hard-working members of our Foundation Board that we are proud of the good work that they do, and to take a stand against injustice.


January 2006

In her column for January President Christina Kallas asked, "Do we (still) need a women's bar association?" To view the President's Message in full, click here.

December 2005

In her column for December President Christina Kallas discusses the Mental Health Court initiative. To view the President's message in full, click here.

November 2005

In her column for November President Christina Kallas asked us all to honor the memory of Ms. Rosa Parks by making one change. To view the President's message in full, click here.

October 2005

In her column for October in honor of Mediation Settlement Month, President Christina Kallas discusses whether mediation is an underused tool in a lawyer's toolbox. To view the President's message in full, click here.

September 2005

In her column for September, President Christina Kallas reflected upon the changes in our country since September 11th. To view the President's message in full, click here.

June 2005

In her column for June, President Christina Kallas discusses change and continuity. To view the President's message in full, click here.

April 2005

In her column in April, President Elizabeth Bryson talked about sexual politics and "women's work." She took issue with Harvard President Lawrence Summers' recent remarks implying that women are innately less suited to pursing careers in science or engineering. Such retrograde thinking is self-defeating. Mr. Summers had to apologize, and Harvard is now actively address the status of women in academia. Ms. Bryson also discussed upcoming events, including the Association's Annual Meeting, a CLE program on "Evolving Opportunities for Women' Lawyers," the Foundation's next fundraising breakfast, the WBASNY Convention, and of course our fantastic 70th Anniversary celebration on June 1st. To view the President's Message in full, click here.

February 2005

In her column in February, President Elizabeth Bryson talked about matters of life and death. She related the experiences of a friend fighting breast cancer and her mother and family addressing the loss of two brothers to AIDS several years ago, and how each circumstance, though very different, teaches us once again the importance of choosing to live life to its fullest every day. By contrast, she considers the proposal in the NYS Legislature to reinstate the death penalty, and WBASNY's brave stance in opposition. To view the President's Message in full, click here.

January 2005

In her column in January, President Elizabeth Bryson discussed the importance of taking steps to ensure that judges in New York have the appropriate qualifications and integrity to ensure the fair and equal administration of justice. She discusses pending legislation and proposed amendments to the Rules of Judicial Conduct that would have an influence on the method of selecting state court judges and the rules that would apply to candidates for judicial office in New York. Ms. Bryson was honored to chair a WBASNY Task Force to look at the proposed legislation and rule changes, and she discusses the process and proposals. She also describes the recent gala celebration WBASNY's 25 Anniversary and the wonderful presentation of the inaugural "Betty Weinberg Ellerin Mentoring Award" to Justice Ellerin. Finally, she reminds everyone of the importance of ensuring that their membership is renewed by January 31, 2005. New members are also welcome, and they can join for half-price dues starting in January! To view the President's Message in full, click here.

December 2004

In her column in December, President Elizabeth Bryson discussed the importance of speaking out and being heard. She demonstrated the value of the Association's screening of candidates for judicial office, particularly now, when the integrity of the judiciary is under attack. Because many of our members practice in solo and small firm settings, Ms. Bryson recommended that members appear before the Commission on Solo and Small Firm Practice, which is holding hearings and looking for comments, concerns and suggestions to make the lives of attorneys in these settings and their clients easier. Members should also plan to join us at several upcoming events that promise to be very exciting, including the NYWBA Foundation's Breakfast Series Speaker Event, a fundraiser scheduled for December 1st, WBASNY's 25th Anniversary Gala on December 2nd that will pay tribute to our own past President, the Honorable Betty Weinberg Ellerin, for her nearly 50 years of mentoring and service to women attorneys and judges throughout New York and across the country, and the New York Women's Agenda's Star Breakfast on December 7th. To view the President's message in full, click here.

November 2004

In her column in November, President Elizabeth Bryson celebrated all the wonderful programs and events that happened this fall, including our Annual Membership Reception. She also discussed the recent controversy with respect to screening the qualifications of candidates for judicial office in New York County, which became the subject of an article in the New York Law Journal. To view the President's message in full, click here.

September 2004

In her column in September, President Elizabeth Bryson asked members to join her in celebrating the Association's 70th Anniversary year (2004-05). Coincidentally, it was also the 25th anniversary year for the Women's Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY), which is the umbrella organization for all 16 women's bar associations across New York State. The NYWBA and its past President Joan Ellenbogen were instrumental in the formation of WBASNY, and it is a joy to see that it is flourishing. This is Beth's second term as President, and in her column she discussed the excitement of continuing programs begun last year and new programs that will begin this year. She also congratulated everyone who was involved in the wonderful year-end festivities, including our Annual Dinner and the WBASNY Convention. To view the President's message in full, click here.

April 2005

In her column for April, President Elizabeth Bryson congratulated several women who make history every day, including the 11 honorees designated for Women's History Month by the National Women's History Project and the New York City Commission on Women. She provided an update on the proposed rules that we have supported to allow asylum for women who are victims of domestic violence or other brutality that is directly or indirectly endorsed by their country's governments. Ms. Bryson also highlighted numerous upcoming events, including the NYWBA Annual Meeting and the Annual Ethics Forum, both in April, and the Women's Bar Convention in New Orleans and the NYWBA Annual Dinner, both in May. To view the President's message in full, click here. .

March 2004

In her March 2004 column, Ms. Bryson notes that NYWBA's membership has increased by over 33 percent from last year, and nearly 50% from two years ago. She praises the terrific work of NYWBA members, Officers, Board members, Committee Chairs, and others who worked on our membership drive and demonstrate why our bar association is so important, strong and vital. She also salutes two people who may not be lawyers but whose contributions are absolutely invaluable to the Association and the NYWBA Foundation - Executive Director Marta Toro and NYWBA Foundation member Denise Coleman. "Our Association is blessed with so many wonderful women and men who contribute their talents." To view the President's message in full, click here.

February 2004

In her February 2004 column, Ms. Bryson discussed the importance of mentoring and networking, especially for women attorneys. She also announces that the Association's Annual Meeting will be on April 28, 2004, when the 2004-05 officers and directors will be elected. Our gala Annual Dinner will be on May 26, 2004. At that event, awards will be presented to Linda Greenhouse, Pulitzer Prize winning author and New York Times reporter covering the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Hon. Jacqueline Silbermann, Administrative Judge of the NY County Supreme Court and Chief Administrative Judge for NYS Matrimonial Courts. To view the President's message in full, click here.

December 2003

In her December 2003 column, NYWBA President Elizabeth Bryson profiled important issues for our military, including the incidents of rape and sexual harassment at our military academies, the scourge of domestic violence, and the shameful track record of "don't ask, don't tell." She also discussed our exciting membership drive and the Reception Honoring Newly Elected and Appointed Judges. To view the President's message in full, click here.

November 2003

In her November 2003 column, NYWBA President Elizabeth Bryson discusses the importance and benefits of membership, as well as the recent visit of distinguished attorneys from Malaysia who were invited by the U.S. State Department to meet with NYWBA representatives. To view the President's message in full, click here.

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