The Women in the Law Committee of the Connecticut Bar Association (CBA) in association with the Young Lawyers Section (YLS) honored Judge Maria A. Kahn of the Superior Court as the 2017 recipient of the Ladder Award. She was presented with the award at the Women in the Law Committee program “Pathwaysto Leadership for Women Lawyers,” held on March 23 at the Inn at Middletown.
The Ladder Award was created by the YLS Women in the Law Committee in 2007 to honor a woman attorney who has “left the ladder down” for those women who follow in her footsteps. The award is aimed at recognizing the efforts of women in the profession who have recognized the importance of mentoring and supporting more junior lawyers in their own journeys to success in the profession. The Honorable Maria A. Kahn has joined a distinguished group of female attorneys including: Tanya A. Bovée, Diane W. Whitney, Nada K. Sizemore, Maureen Danehy Cox, Hon. Anne C. Dranginis, Rosemary Giuliano, Kathleen Brandt, Margaret Deluca, and Elizabeth J. Stewart.
Women in the Law Section Chair
Jennifer E. Wheelock welcomes event guests
Keynote Speaker Professor Susan Schmeiser, UConn School of Law
CBA Women in the Law Section Chair Jennifer E. Wheelock welcomed attendees to the inspiring event, before introducing keynote speaker Susan Schmeiser, professor of law at UConn School of law. Professor Schmeiser revealed that a cover of TIME Magazine inspired her speech on gender ambiguity noting that "questions of leadership and gender are of the utmost urgency." She concluded with the curiosity of where leadership with come from in a post-binary world sharing, "leadership may come from those who come after rather than who come before, from the young people featured in TIME Magazine." Attorney Danielle J.B. Edwards of Cacace Tusch & Santagata introduced Judge Maria A. Kahn.
After asking the audience for a moment of silence to recognize those who have helped them in their careers, the Honorable Maria A. Kahn shared her experiences as a child immigrant from Angola, Africa, who 11 years later became a citizen of the United States in 1986 in the Federal Court in Hartford in front of Judge Peter C. Dorsey, who two years later hired her as his law clerk. Judge Kahn noted, "I share my story not to focus on my own accomplishments but, rather, because my story is one of many that illustrates the greatness of this country."
The Honorable Maria A. Kahn giving her acceptance speech
(L to R) Cindy M. Cieslak, YLS Women in the Law Committee chair; Judge Maria A. Kahn; and Daniel J.B. Edwards, Cacace Tusch & Santagata
As the first female judge of Portuguese descent in Connecticut, Judge Kahn greatly reflected on the importance of mentors and role models sharing, "As leaders in our profession we all must play a part in ensuring that the benefits and opportunities available to us will be there for others to come." She expressed that mentoring others is not optional for her, but that it is a responsibility she has to give back, concluding, "I truly believe that each one of us has an obligation to give back to our community. I guarantee that it will be one of the most rewarding aspects of your professional experiences."
(L to R) Danielle J.B. Edwards, Cacace Tusch & Santagata;
CBA President-elect Karen DeMeola; Ladder Award winner
Judge Maria A. Kahn; Professor Susan Schmeiser, UConn
School of Law; Women in the Law Section Chair
Jennifer E. Wheelock; YLS Women in the Law Committee Chair
Cindy M. Cieslak; and CBA Vice President Jonathan M. Shapiro
2017 Ladder Award winner Judge Maria A. Kahn with members of the Greater Bridgeport Bar Association