Monday Morning Message 3.9.2020 No Ladders Up.

Posted 2020-03-09 12:08pm

“We have to take a “no-ladders up approach” ….we have to make sure that even when we have achieved the numbers that women and persons of color believe make a real leadership presence within our profession, we have to make sure we are not leaving behind any colleagues, those with disabilities, or our LGBTQ+ colleagues. Because if they are left behind, our profession is not at its best for the people we serve.” – Judy Perry Martinez, President, American Bar Association

Just over a year ago, our first grandchild, Violet Stanley Fisher, was born. While there still is much progress to be made, the world in which Violet will grow up is one full of virtually limitless opportunities for girls and women, thanks to women who have pioneered the path to gender equity and equality.

Yesterday was International Women's Day, and last week I had the opportunity to celebrate the success of many dynamic and inspiring women who have forged highly successful careers, often overcoming obstacles.

Last Thursday, CSU Cleveland-Marshall co-sponsored the International Women's Day Summit 2020 at the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association. Associate Dean/Professor Carolyn Broering-Jacobs, Amy Miller, Director of Alumni and Donor Relations, a number of our students, and I participated in the all-day Summit.

The summit featured Judy Perry Martinez, President of the American Bar Association, and a number of our alumni, including Ann Caresani ’94, Partner, BakerHostetlerRose Fini ‘94, Chief Legal & Ethics Officer, Anna Kelberg-Kim ’05, Cleveland Metroparks, Judge Benita Pearson ‘95, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, and Callista Puchmeyer ’07, Chief Counsel, NASA Glenn Research Center.

 The next day, I had the privilege of attending an event in Washington, D.C. honoring a close friend, Judge Kathleen (“’Kate”) O’MalleyU. S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Kate’s remarkable career has been marked by many firsts. When I served as Ohio Attorney General, Kate served as my Chief Counsel, and later as my Chief of Staff and First Assistant Attorney General. She was the first woman to serve in both positions. She was President Bill Clinton’s youngest female appointee to the federal bench (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio), and, when she was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit by President Obama, she was the first judge on the Federal Circuit to have served as a U.S. District Court Judge.

Every day, as I walk the halls of our law school, I am reminded of the historic role that Cleveland-Marshall has played in pioneering paths for women. In 1897, 123 years ago, Cleveland Law School, the predecessor to CSU Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, was the first law school in Ohio to admit women. Ever since, we have been a “door-opener” not only for women but also for many women and men who have broken gender, race, ethnic, and generational barriers to achieve great success.  

Our women graduates include many “firsts” (Note: this list is not intended to be exhaustive; if I missed a first, please let me know!):


  • First woman Municipal Judge in the nation- Judge Mary Grossman ’12
  • First woman appointed to a federal court in America, first woman in the nation to be a federal appraiser in her capacity as U.S. Appraiser of Merchandise- Judge Genevieve Cline ’21
  • First African-American woman to serve as a Judge in Ohio- Judge Lillian Burke ’51
  •  First woman to serve as a Judge on a Federal District Court in Ohio, Cleveland-Marshall’s first female tenured professor – Judge Ann Aldrich
  • First African-American woman to serve as a Judge on a State Appeals Court in Ohio – Judge Patricia Blackmon ‘75
  • First and only woman Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court- Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor ‘80
  • First and only African-American woman elected to the Ohio Supreme Court- Justice Melody Stewart ‘88
  • First African-American woman to serve as a Judge on a Federal District Court in Ohio- Judge Benita Pearson ‘95

 Legal Profession

  • First woman to serve on the Executive Committee of the Cleveland Bar Association, founder, first savings bank run for and by women, later known as Women’s Federal Loan and Savings Association-  Judge Lillian Westropp ‘15
  • First African-American woman lawyer in Cleveland- Louise Johnson Pridgeon ‘18
  • First woman law professor in Ohio; First woman elected to the American Bar Association House of Delegates - Professor Grace Doering McCord ‘25
  • Founder of the Women’s Civic League and Phillis Wheatley Association of Cleveland – Jane Edna Hunter ‘25
  • First regional attorney, Cleveland Social Security Office – Marie Remington Wing ‘26
  • First woman patent attorney in Cleveland- Helen Slough ‘29
  • First President, national Women’s Equity Action League – Elizabeth Boyer ‘47
  • First woman officer, Ohio Bar Association- Dr. Bernice Miller ‘51
  • First Syrian-Lebanese woman lawyer in Cleveland – Edna Shalala ‘52
  •  First woman Regional Director, Cleveland Federal Trade Commission Office -Carole Emerling ’55
  • Co-Founders, Women’s Law Fund, first law firm in the nation to specialize in sex discrimination cases – C|M|LAW Professors Lizabeth Moody and Jane Picker
  • First woman General Counsel, Library of Congress, first woman General Counsel, National Archives and Records Administration- Elizabeth Pugh ’78
  • Co-Founders, largest women-owned law firm in Ohio – Karen Giffen ‘89, Kerin Lyn Kaminski ‘85

 Public Service

  • Cleveland's first African American school principal - Hazel Mountain Walker ‘19
  • First woman to serve as a Deputy Sheriff in Ohio- Judge Eleanor Farina ’25
  • First woman Democrat elected to the Ohio Senate; First woman Chair of the Ohio Senate Rules Committee: First woman Majority Leader and President Pro Tem of the Ohio Senate; First woman State Securities Chief; First woman Director of the State Department of Industrial Relations. -State Senator Margaret Mahoney ‘29
  • First African-American woman elected to Cleveland City Council – Judge Jean Murrell Capers ‘45
  • First and only African-American and woman Mayor of Warrensville Hts., Ohio –Congresswoman Marcia Fudge ‘83


  • First woman President, Cleveland Newspaper Guild – Betty Klaric ‘84
  • First recipient, WomenSpace media award- Mary Strassmeyer ‘81

The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote. Thanks to the women who fought for the 19th Amendment and countless women who have broken barrier after barrier over the past 100 years, my granddaughter, Violet, will have the opportunity to achieve her dreams and to help other women achieve theirs.

This Week’s Monday Moment:  TED Talks by Women About Women

Have a great day. Have a great week.

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 My views in all my Monday Morning Messages are my personal views alone and do not reflect the views of our law school or our university.

My best,


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