NEWiRE members and guests gathered at the Boston Harbor
Hotel on June 21st for the annual meeting and lunch program. Outgoing
president, Janet Pirrello reflected on her term during a successful 30th
anniversary year in which the
organization gained more new members and raised more sponsorship dollars than
in any other year and enjoyed remarkably active committee involvement. After
saluting the outgoing board members and introducing the new board members,
Pirrello invited incoming president, Holly Nelson, to address the audience.
Nelson, full of energy for her upcoming term, named taking advantage of the benefits of our CREW
national affiliation, sponsorship and recruitment of a diverse membership
three of her priorities.
Attendees then had the privilege of hearing from retired
Judge Nancy Gertner. While Judge Gertner’s resume is impressive—graduate of
Barnard College and Yale Law School, editor of The Yale Law Journal, second
female recipient of the Thurgood Marshall Award (the first recipient being Ruth
Bader Ginsberg)—she is so much more than what she appears to be on paper.
Throughout her distinguished career, Judge Nancy Gertner has
not been afraid to speak up and to reach for the extraordinary in order to
effectively promote fairness and justice. Relaying excerpts from her
autobiography, In Defense of Women: Memoirs of an Unrepentant Advocate, Judge
Gertner inspired the room with colorful examples of how she rose from a young,
unknown lawyer to President Clinton’s appointed federal judge on the United
States District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
A self-proclaimed rebellious “child of the sixties,” Judge
Gertner’s memoirs are examples of how courage and conviction can help women
carve out careers in which they are woefully underestimated. Judge Gertner
shared that early in her career, it was her inexperience and the extent to
which she was misjudged that allowed her to shine. She illustrated this point
with many stories; including one about a case in which she defended a young,
female anti-war activist who had been charged with robbery and murder. The
descriptive retelling had the audience awestruck and silent at one moment, and
then laughing the next. Many attendees expressed interest in reading more in
the Judge’s autobiography.
In September of 2011, Judge Gertner retired the federal
bench and became part of the faculty of the Harvard Law School teaching
criminal law, criminal procedure, forensic science and sentencing. Although she
is retired from the bench, Judge Gertner assured the captivated crowd that her
stories of advocating women’s rights are not over.