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Natoya McGhie installed as Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association president

June 22, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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Just over 100 members of the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association joined in on Zoom to watch as the Association held an installation ceremony for Natoya McGhie, its 103rd president and its first to be installed via videoconferencing.

“We are pleased to share in this historic and first-ever virtual installation of the BWBA with each of you,” said past President Carrie Anne Cavallo. “As a past president of the BWBA, I’m proud to see that we have chosen Natoya McGhie to lead our organization at this pivotal time in our society. With her fortitude and dedication to our mission, the future of the BWBA is definitely in good hands. I’m confident that we will thrive during these tumultuous times.”

To start the event, outgoing President Meryl Schwartz lamented some of the opportunities missed because of the pandemic, but recapped some of the great events that were successfully held including a “Lunch with a Judge” event with Hon. Alan Scheinkman at the Appellate Division, Second Department, a Hispanic heritage celebration where Hon. Betsy Barros was honored, and the Black History Month celebration where Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte, leader of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, was honored.

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Hon. Nancy Bannon.

“Being involved in this organization has been great,” said Schwartz. “I encourage all of you who are members to get more involved, attend CLE lectures and our ‘Lunch with a Judge’ events. What I think is wonderful about this organization is that you get to meet, work with and become friends with members of the judiciary, court personnel and other attorneys in fields different than your own.”

Hon. Nancy Bannon, McGhie’s former boss in the Bronx Family Court and the person who encouraged McGhie to join the BWBA, performed the installation ceremony. She said that even as an intern, McGhie showed so much promise conferencing cases, drafting scholarly opinions and negotiating dispositions that Bannon often forgot that she was not a full-time employee and was still enrolled at the New York Law School.

“Natoya has worked in the Brooklyn DA’s Office, in the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Division, and has been a court attorney in the Criminal and Supreme courts and she has shined in all of these positions,” Justice Bannon said. “Knowing what a star she was when I met her, I convinced her to join the BWBA and I’m sure glad that she did as we have seen her excel and rise through all of the positions within our organization and others.”

Hon. Joanne Quinones.

After the installation was complete, Natoya introduced her theme for the year — “Paving the way for Mentorship”. She explained that she chose it months ago and reconsidered once the pandemic hit and then again following the killing of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer.

Then McGhie explained that reflexively she turned to her mentors for advice, including Justice Bannon and her current boss Hon. Jane Tully. This, McGhie explained, was proof that mentorship is perhaps more important now than ever.

“We have a responsibility to cultivate knowledge,” McGhie said. “There is no room for racism, bias and discrimination of any kind in our society. Now more than ever it is our duty to support each other, to guide each other, to work with each other to bring about much needed changes and I think that we can accomplish that through mentorship.”

Just over 100 members of the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association were in attendance for the Association’s first Zoom installation.

McGhie then talked about the toll the pandemic has had on people of color and the ongoing protests against police violence. She then challenged attorneys in attendance to get involved in mentorship in order to ensure that younger and newer lawyers are doing the right things to promote a more just society.

“As an immigrant, as a woman, as a Black attorney, I’ve had my fair amount of inexcusable experiences, but I’ve also experienced unity, friendship and mentorship,” McGhie said. “I’m the direct recipient of the benefits of having mentors. We are in a state of economic and professional uncertainty. Our country is in a state of civil unrest and we are calling for action, so let us do our part to promote diversity and inclusion.”

Prior to McGhie’s installation, Justice Sylvia Hinds-Radix performed the installation of officers including Madeline Kirton as president elect, Lisa Michael, Jovia Radix and Sue Novick Wasko as vice presidents, Betsey Jean-Jacques as treasurer, Catherine Gonzalez as corresponding secretary and Lauren Arnel as recording secretary.

Judge Joanne Quinones installed the directors — Hon. Sylvia Ash, Carolyn Caccese, Hon. Heela Capell, Joanne Minsky Cohen, Hon. Genine Edwards, Barbara Grcevic, Turquoise Haskin, Hon. Sylvia Hinds-Radix, Hon. Connie Mallafre Melendez, Susan Mauro, Angelicque Moreno, Hon. Marsha Steinhardt, Marea Wachsman, Hon. Lillian Wan and Victoria Wickman

Judge Jane Tully installed the Women’s Bar Association for the State of New York delegates — Elaine Avery, Hon. Nancy Bannon, Helene Blank, Samantha Breakstone, Carrie Anne Cavallo, Deborah Johnson, Raquel Miranda, Michele Mirman, Hon. Joanne Quinones and Meryl Schwartz.

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  1. David Weinkrantz

    The article refers to Hon. Sylvia Ash. In that she is accused of obstructing an investigation into a state-chartered credit union whose board she used to chair, I’m not sure how honorable she is.