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

On March 24th, I was honored to attend an event at Gracie Mansion to celebrate Women’s History Month. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Anne Sutherland Fuchs, Chair of the New York City Commission on Women, hosted the evening and adopted the theme of this year’s National Women’s History Project – “Women Inspiring Hope and Possibility.” In that spirit, they paid tribute to eleven incredible women – Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Amalia Betanzos, Sarah Buel, Edna Campbell, Jill Ker Conway, Marian Wright Edelman, Joanne Jaffe, Maxine Hong Kingston, Susan Love, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Vilma Martinez. These are women who make history every day.

Next month’s newsletter will include an article about the honorees. Their accomplishments range from serving as the highest-ranking woman in the New York City Police Department to being a professional basketball player whose experience with breast cancer caused her to make a difference in the lives of others.

Women’s History Month always causes me to reflect on just how far we have come. In mid-March, I was on a business trip to New Orleans, which will be the host city for the Annual Convention of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York in May. More about the Convention in a moment, but I must share with you an example of the enormous impact of the women’s movement and the greater recognition of women’s issues.

Nearly a year ago, WBASNY passed a Resolution supporting the asylum petition of Rodi Alvarado Peòa and victims of domestic violence or other forms of brutality inflicted on women. The violence in each case was directly or indirectly supported by the victims’ homelands’ governments, and it was undisputed that the women would be tortured, mutilated, or even killed if they returned home. The resolution was spearheaded by our amazing past President, Heather Martínez Zona, who raised the issue when Attorney General John Ashcroft questioned whether existing immigration rules should be modified (as proposed by his predecessor, Janet Reno) to grant a right of asylum to these women

Our voices and those of other organizations have had a profound impact. Recently, the press reported that the Department of Homeland Security advised AG Ashcroft that granting these women asylum did not jeopardize any interests of the United States. While I was not surprised that the local papers in New Orleans picked up this news, I was astonished and thrilled to read an editorial by the leading local newspaper supporting asylum for these women as a matter of right. We await AG Ashcroft’s final decision, but this just goes to show how important it is for us to constantly advocate for women’s rights.

Being in New Orleans also gave me a chance to check out the French Quarter and the Hotel Monteleone, where our Convention events will take place. The Convention is going to be fabulous. There are lots of wonderful CLE programs planned, and numerous excursions (including a Riverboat Cruise). For your convenience, we have included a registration form for the Convention. Also, if you, your firm, or anyone else you know would be interested in providing support for the Convention, contact WBASNY Executive Director Linda Chiaverini (212-362-4445).

I am also looking forward to the Convention for personal reasons. The officers will be installed on the final night of the Convention, and I am honored to have been nominated to serve as a Vice President of WBASNY for 2004-05. It will be a challenging year, but I look forward to bringing our Association’s perspective to the statewide organization, and sharing WBASNY’s perspectives with our Association. We are blessed to have talented, hard-working people as officers of both organizations, and I know we will accomplish so much. I am also thrilled that my mom, Natalie Bryson (whom many of you know from past events), will be joining us in New Orleans and then in New York at the Annual Dinner. She is excited to see everyone again.

As you can see from the list on page 1, we have some incredible events planned for April and May. I want to thank Justice Betty Weinberg Ellerin and the other panelists who will be speaking at our Annual Ethics Forum on April 28, 2004 (registration form pp. 5-6). In addition to earning those important ethics CLE credits, we will hold our Annual Meeting that evening, as well. The Annual Meeting is the Association’s “plenary session.” It is when we elect our officers and directors and when we discuss the “State of the Association.” I hope you will plan to attend both events.

I also want to thank Nance Schick and Brenda Pomerance for their “NYWBA Success Stories,” published this month and in the February issue. I love reading about how the Association has influenced people’s lives in such unique and positive ways. We have received terrific feedback from this new feature, so please let us know your story. It’s easy – just send a note to me or to our wonderful Newsletter Editor, Teresa Schiller ( or 212-878-3003).

As Women’s History Month draws to a close, I want to acknowledge all of the people whose stories and courage have made it possible for us to accomplish so much as an Association. Won’t you join us in making a little history?

~ Beth


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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