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Women’s Bar Association honors Joanne Minsky Cohen at membership party

October 2, 2019 Rob Abruzzese
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The Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association held its annual membership party on Thursday at the Brooklyn Bar Association where it honored longtime member Joanne Minsky Cohen with the award it established in her name in 2016.

“When I first joined the board, Joanne was one of the most welcoming people I’ve ever met,” said BWBA President Meryl Schwartz. “Probably everyone has the same experience with her. She comes and talks with you and is very wonderful, even if she doesn’t know you, and makes you feel welcome.”

Minsky Cohen, who graduated from Clark University and Western State College of Law, started working for the courts in Brooklyn in 1988 and worked for over two decades for Justice Bert Bunyan before his retirement.

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From left: Natoya McGhie, Angelicque Moreno, Joanne Minsky Cohen, Joy Thompson, Meryl Schwartz and Hon. Genine Edwards.

She has served in numerous roles within the BWBA including vice president, recording secretary and director. She is most well known as the chair of the BWBA’s Breast Cancer Awareness Committee and for her coordinated efforts with Judges and Lawyers Breast Cancer Alert (JALBCA).

“She has been the point woman for the BWBA participation in the breast cancer walk and activities related to it since the early 2000s,” Schwartz said. “She has worked tirelessly to make the event successful every year.”

The award was originally established by then-president Helene Blank in 2016. The association created it to honor a person who provides outstanding service to the legal community and Brooklyn at large. Many of the members felt that Minsky Cohen exemplified that ideal so much that they wanted to name the award after her.

From left: Hon. Jane Tully, Holly Peck, Natoya McGhie, Helene Blank, Hon. Ellen Spodek and Hon. Debra Silber.

“I think back to the magnificent work the association has done as a leader in the fight against breast cancer,” Minsky Cohen said after she was presented with the award. “It has been my privilege to chair the committee for breast cancer awareness. The association has raised money for breast cancer research, sponsored mobile mammography vans, distributed literature and promoted public awareness of the need for early screening of breast cancer.”

The inaugural Joanne Minsky Cohen Award was given to Justice William Thompson in 2016. Thompson was a trailblazer in the local political and legal communities, and was a known mentor to many judges and BWBA members.

“Three years ago, the BWBA honored me by establishing an award in my name,” Minsky Cohen said. “The first recipient of the award was the Hon. William Thompson. Justice Thompson, who has since passed away, was an excellent jurist, devoted friend and tireless mentor to many.
It made me proud that the award bearing my name was giving it to him.”

Officers and directors of the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association. From left: Madeline Kirton, Hon. Theresa Ciccotto, Hon. Nancy Bannon, Deborah Johnson, Meryl Schwartz, Joy Thompson, Joanne Minsky Cohen, Angelicque Moreno, Hon. Joanne Quinones, Natoya McGhie, Hon. Ellen Spodek, Lauren Arnel, Helene Blank, Marea Wachsman, Carrie Anne Cavallo, Sue Wasko, Hon. Connie Mallafre Melendez, Derefim Bernadette Neckles, Hon. Marsha Steinhardt and Barbara Grcevic.

Minsky Cohen thanked Blank for naming the award after her. She also made a point to thank Barbara Grcevic for naming her chair of the Breast Cancer Awareness Committee over 20 years ago, as well as Holly Peck, Jennifer Fiorentino, Justice Ellen Spodek, Hon. Bert Bunyan and Hon. David Vaughan, for whom she currently works.

“I thank you for sharing the good and the not-so-good moments of my life,” Minsky Cohen said. “Thank you for being there for me when I needed you most. I’ll miss you in the courthouse. The association and breast cancer awareness are always in my heart.”

The BWBA will participate in this year’s Making Strides of Brooklyn walk hosted by the American Cancer Society in Coney Island on Sunday, Oct. 20. The walk starts at 10 a.m. at MCU Park and the BWBA will meet by 9:45 a.m. at Nathan’s Famous, 1310 Surf Ave.


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