Our members and committees are truly the heart of our organization. It is a wonderful way to become involved!
If you are a member interested in joining a CDWBA committee, you can email the committee chair by clicking on the appropriate email address directly beside the committee.
Much of the work CDWBA accomplishes is done through the following committees:
Chair: Beth Carey
This committee is responsible for informing members about awards being presented by local, state, and national bar associations, including WBASNY, and other entities and submitting nominations on behalf of the CDWBA for consideration. The committee’s work involves identifying potential recipients and submitting the necessary forms. The committee also oversees obtaining nominations for CDWBA’s awards and making recommendations to the Board.
Chairs: Cindy Platt, Joann Sternheimer
This committee is responsible for reviewing the Chapter’s by-laws and proposing amendments where appropriate or when directed to do so by the Board.
Chair: Erin Lynch
This committee coordinates with teachers of area elementary, middle, and high schools to place CDWBA members in a variety of classrooms. In this way, students hear members speak on what it is like to be a lawyer, about areas of practice and the kinds of community service lawyers partake in. Substantive areas of the law may also be addressed. This committee is also instrumental in bringing the CARE program to students.
This committee organizes and presents a variety of CLEs throughout the year on a wide range of topics of interest to the legal community, and coordinates with WBASNY, as an accredited CLE provider, to obtain and properly administer CLE credit for attendees.
Chairs: Hon. Helena Heath, Karonne Jarrett
This committee focuses on issues affecting the availability of career opportunities and the attainment of professional success and personal satisfaction for women in the legal profession, and works to increase the diversity of the CDWBA membership, leadership, and committees and to encourage minority women to enter the legal profession. The committee will examine whether, how, and why gender affects the quality and nature of an individual’s experience in the legal system. The committee will also serve as the liaison between CDWBA and OCA gender fairness committees whose work affects the Capital Region.
Chair: Susan Pattenaude, Gayle Hartz
This committee serves as a forum to provide education to the membership about current information in the field of domestic violence, to work with the Legislative Committee to review legislation that would have an impact on victims of domestic violence, and to promote awareness about domestic violence among the membership and the public. It also provides a place for members who practice in the area of domestic violence representation to keep up to date on current issues and to share information.
Chairs: Lauren Hunt, Tiffinay Rutnik
This mandatory committee pursuant to the bylaws undertakes to address special issues affecting women in the legal workforce, including issues that affect working mothers, women in firms, in-house counsel positions, women in government, and family-friendly employment practices. This committee works toward sharing practical and professional information with an emphasis on growing our membership and building a professional network.
Chair: Sarah Gold
This committee prepares an annual budget each fiscal year. The budget contains the expected expenses and income for the coming year and includes suggestions for fund raising activities. The committee consults with all committees to determine the financial needs of the organization. The CDWBA Treasurer generally chairs this committee.
Chairs: Stacey Metro, Dana Salazar
This committee plans our installation dinner of officers each June.
Chairs: Lea Ermides Stevens, Cathy Drobny
This committee plans an annual reception held each March to honor the Judges from the Court of Appeals, the Appellate Division, as well as local members of the Judiciary. It also helps to plan our June installation dinner of officers.
Chair: Caitlin Monjeau, Brian Haak
This committee investigates the status of women in the Capital District Judiciary and explores avenues to increase the number of woman appointed and elected to the bench. The committee receives and analyzes reported incidents of inequitable treatment in the courts based on gender, and determines appropriate actions or makes referrals in furtherance of our mission to promote fairness in the courts. This merged Judicial Selection committee worked to educate members and the community on the qualifications of candidates for Supreme Court in the Third and Fourth Judicial Districts, and County level judgeships (Family, Surrogate and County Court) for Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady counties. The work of this committee currently consists of drafting and distributing a questionnaire to candidates in early summer, then working to publicize their verbatim responses in the CDWBA newsletter, on the CDWBA website, and in a press release in September.
This committee reviews proposed legislation pertaining to women’s issues and New York legal practice, makes recommendations concerning such legislation to the Board, and reports CDWBA’s position to the WBASNY Legislative Committee. The committee begins meeting in November and usually concludes with the end of the legislative session. The meetings are scheduled to coordinate with the four WBASNY Legislative Committee meetings in September, November, January, and March and, sometimes, April or May. This committee has long played an integral part in establishing the legislative agenda of WBASNY and has played a vital role in developing positions on important legislation under consideration by both Congress and the New York State Legislature.
Chairs: Rebekah Nellis Kennedy, Geri Pomerantz
This committee promotes continuing legal education and pro bono opportunities for our members on issues relevant to the LGBTQ community. The committee provides networking opportunities for our LGBTQ and ally members. It further seeks to provide education and awareness of various issues pertinent to the LGBTQ community and broader legal community. These issues range from discussion of cultural competency to community legal education such as “know your rights” workshops. The committee may additionally comment through WBASNY on potential legislation effecting the interests of the LGBTQ community.
Chairs: Jen Corona
The purpose of this committee is to determine CDWBA’s goals for the long-term future, beyond the current year’s agenda.
Chairs: Sean Morton
This committee explores avenues to increase CDWBA membership to enhance the Association’s presence in the legal community. Some of its traditional activities include organizing the annual membership party in December of each year, and sponsoring panel discussions and other events at Albany Law School, including a networking reception for law students. The committee also leads the CDWBA membership recruitment drive.
Chair: Lianne Pinchuk
This committee implements WBASNY’s “LINK” mentoring programming. The program is designed to provide law school student and recent graduates (protégés) a link to resources in the legal community. The goals of the program are to orient protégés to law firm or institutional culture; introduce professional expectations; assist less advantaged female professionals; and help protégés pave the way to a more satisfying and productive career. The mentoring program is NOT an internship program or a replacement for a career services organization. The committee’s work starts each fall with a kick-off event at Albany Law School (currently a “speed mentoring” program). Protégés are then matched with volunteer mentors from the CDWBA for ongoing mentoring throughout the year. Committee members can be involved for the one-time-only kick-off event or by being matched with a protégé for an ongoing mentoring relationship.
Chairs: Raquel Stevens, Sarah Gold
This committee consists of the newsletter editor and contributing committee chairs and members, and is the “lifeline” of CDWBA. Because a primary goal of the Newsletter is to familiarize the CDWBA membership with the organization’s diverse committees and keep members informed as to what other members are doing, articles, information and ideas are always welcome from members.
Chair: Rebekah Nellis Kennedy
This Committee consists of past presidents of our chapter. The group plans to meet quarterly to discuss the past, present and future of the organization, strategies for retaining and recruiting members and hopes to provide an historical context and advice to our board, officers and committees.
Chair: Susan Pattenaude, Gayle Hartz
The Legal Project, Inc. is the pro bono arm of the CDWBA. This committee works closely with the Legal Project to recruit members for the various services provided by the Legal Project to those in need of pro bono or low-cost legal services in a variety of areas, including domestic violence. The committee also assists members in overcoming any impediments they may face to providing pro bono services.
Chair: Alyssa Snyder
This committee arranges a variety of programs throughout the year, including luncheons, dinners, and other events designed to provide members with opportunities to network, learn about each other’s work, and just have fun together. Program arrangements are coordinated with other Chapter committees as appropriate.
Chair: Madalyn DeThomasis
This Committee is responsible for the organization’s formal public relations efforts. This includes promoting issues of importance to the CDWBA and advertising CDWBA- sponsored events. Prior examples include announcing the CDWBA’s judicial screening recommendations, applauding the appointment of female judges to the bench and announcing the CDWBA’s family workplace survey results. The Committee works year round, as needed, in concert with the organization’s Board and other Committees to issue press releases to the local print and television media and coordinate media interviews. As part of this, the Committee works with a public relations consultant to determine when outreach to the media is appropriate and how best to do so. This Committee serves a number of important roles, including increasing the public’s awareness of the CDWBA and publicly promoting the advancement of women who are involved in or affected by the legal system.
Chair: Rebecca Ruscito
The only subcommittee of its kind in the state, the Sex Trafficking Committee has three major objectives. (1) We seek to raise public and membership awareness of sex trafficking in the Capital District by organizing free and open educational events in our community. (2) We identify legislation that supports sex trafficking victims for consideration by the CDWBA and WBASNY Legislative Committees. And (3) we work with the Legal Project and other local service providers to connect victims of sex trafficking to legal assistance and mentoring opportunities.
Chairs: Margie Soehl
This committee will plan programs of interest to, and provide networking opportunities for, lawyers who practice solo or in small law firms in the Capital District.
This committee arranges the Sweet Success event, which is an event designed to recognize career milestones achieved by our members. It is also the meeting at which CDWBA membership votes on the slate of incoming officers and WBASNY Delegates proposed by the Nominations Committee. A vote is also taken on the proposed slate of WBANSY officers.
Chair: Sarah Gold
This committee coordinates development and maintenance of our Chapter’s web-site on the Internet, and also recommends ways to use the Internet to interface with members. No computer experience necessary.
This committee is the Chapter’s liaison to the Judges and Lawyers Breast Cancer Alert (“JALBCA”), the Breast Health Partnerships for Albany, Rensselaer and Schenectady Counties, and “To Life.” The committee works with those groups to plan educational activities for the membership and the community in connection with the national October Breast Cancer Alert and other events throughout the year that feature topics related to breast cancer. Most importantly, the committee also provides information and support to members affected by the disease. In 2015, the Board voted to merge this committee with the Caregivers committee, which was dedicated to providing an outlet for members in need of assistance or information as it relates to care giving. Caregivers are often thought of as individuals who provide care for the elderly; however, caregivers are also those who provide care for the sick and the disabled, as well as children. The committee intends to create a visible, identifiable network so CDWBA members know where to turn when they need information and assistance as it relates to care giving. We intend to provide beneficial training and legal assistance to CDWBA members. The Caregivers Committee will also be available to CDWBA members for emotional and physical support, and to offer them respite from the constant demands of care giving.