President's Message - September 2023
by Amanda K. Rieben
I have been a member of this wonderful organization for many years, and while I have always looked at past WWBA presidents and the membership in awe and admiration - the idea of being at the helm was terrifying. Reflecting upon my first few months as President, I’ve quickly discovered that not everything will go as planned. Even more importantly, I’ve learned that’s OK. Whether inopportune weather wreaking havoc or omitting certain details in planning (who muddles happy hour?!), through our collaborative efforts when faced with unexpected challenges we can achieve our greatest success (it was a wonderful happy hour with over sixty people in attendance).
For instance, our annual dinner and installation of officers and directors did not necessarily go as planned. Nobody imagined that there would be wildfires that would impact our air quality and ability to congregate outside as we have in past years. Nonetheless, the Mamaroneck Beach & Yacht Club seamlessly transitioned everything inside to accommodate over 200 guests, who attended our annual dinner. While the room was more crowded than usual during the hors d’oeuvres and cocktail hour, you could sense the infectious excitement from the constant chatter and positive energy in the air (or maybe it was my daughters’ enthusiasm for the food spread and the multiple plates of dumplings that they enjoyed!). By the time I stood up to deliver my installation speech, I had momentarily forgotten about the smog, and was overwhelmed with gratitude by the support and the collaborative efforts that had gone into making the evening a success.
As I had mentioned during my installation speech, my aspiration this year is to further the distinctive mission of the WWBA, to “…promote justice for all, regardless of sex; to advance the social, economic and legal status for women through the law; to expand opportunities for women and to raise the level of competence and integrity in the legal profession.” As a mother of three daughters, this mission and these words are particularly important to me. I am committed to expanding the ways in which WWBA members utilize their legal backgrounds and experiences to further serve the community and promote justice. But how do we do that? We work together and we collaborate with other WWBA members and with other bar associations so that we can positively impact and help others.
To start, in June we hosted a roundtable discussion on domestic violence in partnership with the Justice Brandeis Law Society, 9th JD, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers New York Chapter, as well as attorneys and providers from the Pace Women’s Justice Center, Hope’s Door, My Sisters’ Place. The roundtable provided a diverse atmosphere for judges and court personnel, experienced family and matrimonial law attorneys, and social service providers to ask questions and engage in dialogue on a topic that impacts many individuals in our community. In September and October, to continue to raise awareness on domestic violence, the WWBA in collaboration with domestic violence legal/social service providers in the community, and other matrimonial lawyers, will participate in a two-part lunch and learn training series with judges throughout the 9th Judicial District on domestic violence. In October, which is domestic violence awareness month, through the collective effort of community service providers, the WWBA will also be distributing materials and information to our membership to raise awareness. Additionally, to further support non-profit legal providers in our community, during our September 6, 2023, General Membership Meeting, Legal Services of the Hudson Valley (“LSHV”) will present on the child welfare system. The presentation will focus on the significance of early intervention by legal and social service providers and the profound and positive impact this can have on parents and the status of an open child protective service investigation.
I am also excited about the ways in which the WWBA already is and will continue to collaborate with other bar organizations in the surrounding community. In June, the WWBA partnered with the Hudson Valley Hispanic Bar Association (“HVHBA”) and the Westchester County Bar Association, to help sponsor the Multi-Bar Summer Social. This was a well-attended event, which provided an opportunity for our membership to connect with other bar associations. In July, WWBA Treasurer, Christine Paska, and I participated in WBASNY’s leadership conference with other Chapter presidents and treasurers throughout New York State. During the first day of what was intended to be a two-day conference in the Catskills, there was once again inopportune weather wreaking havoc and the second day of the conference had to be postponed. While the severe flash flood warnings were unexpected, the weekend was a success due to the collaborative efforts of WBASNY’s Officers and Directors, and representatives from each of the local Chapters. I returned from the conference invigorated by the discussions and by other Chapters’ goals, initiatives, future programs, and prospective collaborative events.
Toward this end, in August the WWBA hosted our summer social at the Red Hat on the River (the “Red Hat”) in collaboration with the Rockland County Women’s Bar Association (“RCWBA”) and the HVHBA. I was amazed by the turnout and the support that all three bar associations received. This time, while the weather finally cooperated, in advance of the event the venue was not provided with the anticipated headcount. My hat (pun intended!) goes off to the Red Hat, which did an incredible job accommodating over sixty attendees and helping to make the event a success! The WWBA is also already in the process of assisting in the planning of a virtual CLE program spearheaded by the Honorable Mark Dillon. This program will hopefully be sponsored by the WWBA in collaboration with the RCWBA, the Women’s Bar Association of Orange and Sullivan Counties, and the Mid-Hudson Women’s Bar Association.
As you can see, like everything else in life, during the first few months of my presidency there have been and there likely will continue to be unexpected challenges. While I cannot predict the unknown, I promise and assure you that I intend to give 110% to this role and to collaborate with you, our membership, as well as other bar association members and organizations. The most effective way for the WWBA to be successful, to “promote justice,” and further community integration is through collaboration and open communication. Thank you all for entrusting me as WWBA President. I am excited for the unexpected, and I could not be prouder to be a part of this amazing organization.