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Brooklyn Women’s Bar honors Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and two of their own at gala

May 20, 2019 Rob Abruzzese
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The Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association held its 101st annual dinner at the Liberty Warehouse in Red Hook on Wednesday at which it honored three members of the legal community including Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.

More than 300 bar association members and their guests packed into a room that overlooked the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center and the Verrazzano Bridge to honor Hochul as well as Andrea Bonina and past President Holly Peck.

“This has been a banner year for the Women’s Bar Association,” said Carrie Anne Cavallo, president of the association for the past year. “I must thank each and every one of our members for participation at our events and for helping us increase our membership. We are now at over 500 members strong. For the first time, Brooklyn is now the second largest chapter of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York.”

Hochul was presented with the association’s Beatrice M. Judge Recognition Award by Hon. Jenny Rivera, associate judge of the Court of Appeals. Judge Rivera explained that Hochul’s career as a public servant who fights for the rights of women made her an excellent honoree.

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“She has been a lifelong advocate for women and families across the state, fighting for equal rights and opportunities for success,” Judge Rivera said.

Hochul graduated from Syracuse University and got her law degree from Catholic University. She became deputy county clerk of Erie County in 2003, became a member of Congress in 2011 and lieutenant governor in 2015.

During Hochul’s speech, she talked about the impact that the women of the BWBA have had on Brooklyn and how the organization sets a positive example for places like Buffalo, where she is from. She then reminded those in the audience that women’s rights are still very much at risk.

“Fellow members of the bar, we are suited to fighting for the rights of women because they are under assault like I have never seen in my lifetime,” Hochul said. “There are states out there that are disrespecting the rights we’ve held dear since 1973 with Roe v. Wade, and I’m talking about Alabama and Georgia. We need to continue fighting because places are only one election away from rolling back our rights and that’s scary to me.”

Peck, a past president of the organization, received the Sybil Hart Kooper Award from Hon. Dawn M. Jimenez-Salta. Peck said that when she joined the BWBA, it felt like home and told her listeners that the group has not only helped her professionally but also created strong friendships.

“My presidency was an opportunity for me to give back to the organization and to Brooklyn,” said Peck. “One of my many projects was to reintroduce the Lunch with a Judge series, originally conceived by Elaine Avery, which over time became our signature program.”

Finally, Justice Sylvia Hinds-Radix, another past president of the organization, introduced and Bonina and presented her with the President’s Award. In her speech, Bonina recalled joining her father’s law firm and stepping into a man’s world but added that the legal community has shifted in major ways since then.

“When I entered the profession, I literally stepped into my father’s world,” Bonina said. “I went to work for him, he was my mentor, and I am eternally grateful for his leadership. Most of the women practicing law in this room entered the profession when it was a very male-dominated one. Women have made a big difference in how our legal community is and the practice of law. We’re not quite at the point where my two sons are going to lament about making it in their mama’s world, but women have been a powerful force for change in the law and making the legal profession better.”

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