Perceiving the need for a professional organization dedicated to the particular interests of women attorneys in Virginia, a steering committee, co-chaired by Dulcey Fowler and Janis McDonald, met during the early part of 1981 to discuss such an organization’s mission and structure. These meetings culminated in a general invitation to the approximately one thousand women attorneys then licensed in Virginia to attend an organizational meeting which was held in June 1981 in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Virginia State Bar. U.S. Tax Court Judge Edna Parker was the featured speaker. The purposes of the new organization were identified as:
- to advance the interests of women attorneys in Virginia,
- to encourage their mutual improvement and social interaction, and
- to promote the interests of women under the law.
In conjunction with that first meeting in June 1981, the organization published its first newsletter, Lex Claudia, featuring scholarly articles as well as opinion pieces. The newsletter highlighted information regarding the absence of women in the hierarchy of the Virginia legal system. For example, at that time, none of the Commonwealth’s 108 Circuit Court judges were women; there was only one woman general district court judge, and two juvenile and domestic court judges (for a total of 3 women out of 277 judgeships).
The new organization announced at its June 1981 meeting that it would present a First Annual Fall Seminar and Business Meeting of the VWAA membership, and Election of Officers and Board Members at the Wintergreen Mountain Conference Center, October 9-10, 1981. The all-day seminar featured presentations on "Women and Property," "Family Mediation and Trends in Family Law," "Employment Discrimination," "Law Practicum," "Women’s Self-Defense Cases" and the "Legislative and Judicial Process in Virginia." The guest speaker for the Annual Meeting Luncheon was the Honorable Phyllis Kravitch, Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Members paying annual dues of $25.00 (less than two years of practice), $35.00 (more than two years of practice) $15.00 (law student members) elected as the organization’s first officers: President, Dulcey Fowler, Vice-President; Karen Geary, Secretary; Bessida White; and Treasurer; Joan Gibson. The membership passed resolutions supporting the Equal Rights Amendment and favoring continued funding for Legal Services.
In November of 1981, the VWAA co-sponsored a reception for the newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. That same month, Elsie Munsell was appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, as the first women United States Attorney in the commonwealth. In January 1982 the VWAA Board of Directors endorsed Barbara Keenan, a sitting district court judge, for a judgeship on the Circuit Court.
As a mark of its perceived importance as a state-wide voice, the Virginia State Bar invited the VWAA President to attend meetings of the Virginia State Bar Council as a non-voting member, along with the Presidents of the other state-wide bar associations.
Throughout its early years, the VWAA actively supported and encouraged women to seek judgeships. Additionally, the organization actively promoted legislation in such areas as inheritance, child custody, divorce and equitable distribution of marital property.
The Second Annual Meeting and Fall Seminar, held October 8-10, 1982, again in Wintergreen, featured workshops on "Women and Property," "Developing Success Skills," "Discrimination," "Dynamics of Domestic Violence," and "Strategies for Litigating Women’s Issues." The Honorable Patricia A. Wald, Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, addressed the banquet which followed a reception given for judges. The membership adopted a wide-ranging legislative agenda including supporting the establishment of an intermediate appellate court, the concept of an augmented estate, child support until 21 if child is a full-time student, increasing the penalty for producing or distributing child pornography, and increasing the salaries for public school teachers. At this second meeting, Karen Geary was elected President, Joan Gibson was elected Vice President, Susan Winstead was elected Secretary, and Randy Parris was elected Treasurer.
During the year following the Second Annual Meeting, the VWAA joined with The Women’s Bank and the Metropolitan Richmond Women’s Bar Association in sponsoring a reception for state and local officials on February 9, 1983, at The Women’s Bank in Richmond. That same day, the Board of VWAA attended a meeting of the Women’s Round Table--a group of legislators and lobbyists concerned with issues affecting women in Virginia. The VWAA also sponsored regional brunches across the state to celebrate legislative reforms affecting women and the appointment of women to prominent legal positions. The VWAA President participated in the first legal delegation of women attorneys and judges to go to China sponsored by People to People program.
Governor Charles Robb called upon the VWAA for recommendations for a Supreme Court vacancy. To promote local involvement in the judicial endorsement process, the VWAA Judiciary Committee set up local judiciary committees in each judicial circuit. During the early summer of 1983, the VWAA Board and Legislative Committee sponsored its first Legislative Retreat for legislators and others at Skyland Lodge in the Shenandoah National Park. The VWAA Speakers Bureau/Legislative Network got off to a strong start with the participation of 58 women attorneys across the state.
For its Third Annual Meeting, the VWAA was successful in confirming Justice Sandra Day O’Connor as its featured speaker. This meeting was held in Arlington on October 21-22, 1983. Joan Gibson was elected President; Randy Parris, Vice President; Vicki Nozero Secretary; and Darrel Long Tillar, Treasurer. Action was taken on legislative issues including the adequacy of Aid to Families with Dependent Children payments, requiring adequate public notice prior to hearings on bills and committee votes; and updating Virginia’s "Poor Debtors" exemption. About this time, the organization published its first official membership directory, 1983-84 Directory of the Virginia Women Attorneys Association.
At its February 1984 meeting, the Board approved a contract with Felix and Associates, a management firm located in Reston, Virginia, for administration of VWAA business. By the terms of the contract, Felix and Associates agreed to provide staff support to the Board, develop and manage the Annual Conference, produce a monthly newsletter, and offer regional educational programs, among other services. Also in February 1984, the VWAA again co-sponsored with The Women’s Bank and the Metropolitan Richmond Women’s Bar Association a reception honoring legislators and women in government. Teena Grodner was selected by the Board as Secretary to replace Victorio Nozero who had resigned.
The Second Legislative Retreat for VWAA Board members, legislators and other policy makers was held at the Roslyn Conference Center in Richmond on May 6-7, 1984. Four subcommittees were established to work on legislative agenda items to be presented to the 1985 General Assembly. The four broad areas were: the new Virginia Equitable Distribution Act, child support, fault in divorce, and public benefits. Governor Robb invited VWAA President to witness signing of legislation into law.
VWAA’s Fourth Annual Meeting was held in Reston, October 12-13, 1984. Workshops and presentations focused on juvenile justice, computers for the small law office, trial practice techniques, tax and the general practitioner, plus women lawyers’ perspectives on success. Kathy Wilson, President of the Women’s National Political Caucus was the luncheon speaker on Friday, and Elsie Munsell, U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of Virginia, gave the Saturday luncheon address. Other features included a judicial reception Friday evening, a legislative coffee Saturday morning and the VWAA President’s Reception and Cocktail Party Saturday evening. By-law amendments passed changing the annual meeting month, creating the office of President-Elect and changing the fiscal year. The Officers elected were: President-Randy Parris, President-Elect-Sylvia Clute, Secretary-Teena Grodner, and Treasurer-Jane Schukoske.
The first women ever to be appointed as Fellows of the Virginia Law Foundation, established by the Virginia State Bar and the Virginia Bar Association, were VWAA President Randy Parris and VWAA members Gail Marshall and Debra Prillaman.
The Virginia Women Attorneys Association and the Virginia Commission on the Status of Women co-sponsored a reception for legislators at the Virginia Museum in Richmond on January 5, 1985. The reception also honored women in government and was held in the closing days of the exhibit "Share of Honour: Virginia’s Women 1660-1945." The VWAA and the Alexandria Bar Association hosted on February 15, 1985 a wine and cheese reception for three members of the new Court of Appeals, including Judge Barbara Keenan. The affair was attended by approximately two hundred well-wishers. Finally, the VWAA co-hosted on March 26, 1985 with the National Association of Women Judges, the District of Columbia and Maryland Women’s Bar Associations a reception for all women in Congress.
With the change in the fiscal year and Annual Meeting month, and in recognition that women attorneys do not participate in local and state bar activities in representative numbers, the VWAA Fifth Annual Meeting was held June 14, 1985 in Virginia Beach in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Virginia State Bar. The VWAA Annual Meeting was devoted to two primary topics, Judicial Endorsement Policy and Legislative Priorities. No elections were held as the then current officers had served less than a full year.
In September 1985, the Board voted to make removing fault as a bar to spousal support the priority issue for the 1986 legislative session. In November 1985 the VWAA hosted a reception to welcome newly admitted members of the Virginia State Bar. Special guest speaker was the Honorable Lawrence L. Koontz, Jr., Chief Judge of the Intermediate Court of Appeals. Throughout 1981-1985, VWAA continued to publish its newsletter approximately quarterly with scholarly articles and continued to support qualified women seeking judgeships (including several of its own members). In 1985 the second Directory of the Virginia Women Attorneys Association was distributed.
VWAA’s Sixth Annual Meeting was held in Charlottesville, April 11-12, 1986. Special guests included the Honorable Barbara M. Keenan, the Honorable Elizabeth Lacy, and the Honorable Christine Cook Nettesheim. The conference offered a diverse agenda including legislative workshops. The Friday luncheon was highlighted by a keynote speech from Elaine R. Jones, Executive Director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and a judicial reception was held that evening. The association elected Sylvia Clute as President, Darrel Long Tillar as President-Elect, Miranda Turner as Secretary, and Lisa Germano as Treasurer. VWAA "went big-time" with the Board’s approval of Judith Bentley as Executive Director to handle administrative matters for VWAA and the approval of the purchase of a computer. A third Directory of the Virginia Women Attorneys Association was distributed in 1986.
Fall of 1986 heralded the First Women’s Roundtable Legislative Conference held October 10-11, 1986 in Richmond with the VWAA and the League of Women Voters of Virginia as the major co-sponsors. The conference, featuring panel discussions and workshops on teen pregnancy, the legislative process, day care, child abuse, marriage and divorce issues, inheritance, budget issues and political strategy, was well-attended by both legislators and citizens representing over 100 different organizations and received favorable press coverage. Our third Fall Retreat titled "Women at the Helm in Public Office--Executive, Judicial and Legislative Branches of Government with VWAA Board members, committee chairs, women in the legislature, judiciary, and other leadership positions," was held November 21-22, 1986.at Jordan Hollow Farm Inn, near Luray, Virginia.
At the Fall Board meeting the creation of the Virginia Women Attorneys Association Foundation, a Section 501 (c) (3) charitable organization committed to educating the general public about the legal status of women and authorized to accept tax deductible donations was approved. On December 23, 1986, with the issuance of a charter by the State Corporation Commission, the Foundation became a reality.
In the Winter of 1987 President Sylvia Clute called for the creation of local VWAA chapters and set up the mechanism for two pilot chapters. In February 1987 a new VWAA Directory, our fourth, was published. In addition, extension planning was undertaken for VWAA’s first CLE. This CLE, co-sponsored with EX-POSE (Ex-Partners of Servicemen (women) for Equality), titled "Military Divorce Seminar" was presented in Norfolk on March 12, 1987 and in Arlington on April 30, 1987.
VWAA’s Seventh Annual Meeting titled "Women in the Constitution--A Bicentennial Celebration" was held at Wintergreen, Virginia on April 10, 1987. Highlights of the business meeting included passage by the membership of resolutions supporting the Virginia Council on the Status of Women’s position on Pay Equity; supporting reforming the present system of judicial selection and recruitment in Virginia; and supporting further study and improvement of the means of delivering the child and spousal support services mandated by the Child Support Amendments of 1984. At this Annual Meeting the following officers were elected: Darrel Long Tillar-President, Marni E. Byrum-President-Elect, Carolyn Carpenter-Secretary, and Lisa Germano -Treasurer. The membership approved the concept of chapter affiliation. Subsequent to this approval, two chapters, one from Northern Virginia and one from the Roanoke-New River Valley were accepted.
On May 17, 1987, VWAA members participated in a Bicentennial Admission to the United States Supreme Court Ceremony held in Washington, D.C. and sponsored by the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations.
At the Virginia State Bar’s Annual Meeting in June 1987, the VWAA was honored by the Conference of Local Bar Associations and presented with an Award of Merit for service to the community for its sponsorship of the First Women’s Roundtable Legislative Conference. Another highlight of the State Bar’s Annual Meeting was the debut of the Virginia Commission on Women and Minorities in the Legal System which had been organized in 1986 by its member organizations: the Virginia State Bar, the Virginia Bar Association, the Old Dominion Bar Association. the VWAA, and the Virginia Conference of Local Bar Associations.
At the VWAA Board meeting held in conjunction with the State Bar’s Annual Meeting, annual dues were increased to $45.00 for members in practice for more than two years, but remained at $25.00 for those admitted to the bar for less than two years, and at $15.00 for non-voting law students. Executive Director Judith Bentley was presented with a bonus check in recognition of her work over the past year.
The Virginia Women Attorney’s Association most ambitious project took place in Charlottesville, July 20-24, 1987. The VWAA, along with the Virginia Council on the Status of Women (chaired by VWAA President Darrel Long Tillar) and the Curry School of Education of the University of Virginia presented a Summer Institute Women and the Constitution 1787-1987. The institute provided an in-depth study of how women were treated under the 1787 Constitution and how women as a class have fared under the interpretations given that document by the Supreme Court. An all-star faculty including Mary Frances Berry, Linda Grant DePauw, Ann Freedman, the Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elaine Jones, Robert O’Neil, the Honorable Mary Sue Terry, Sarah Weddington, and Wendy Williams captivated a mixed audience of teachers, lawyers and community representatives. This program won the North American Association of Summer Schools award for the best summer school program in North America.
During the summer of 1987, President Darrel Long Tillar solicited funds from members and friends--known as the VWAA CLUB-- to pay the annual rent on the VWAA’s first office. The office, located at 700 East Main Street, Suite 925, Richmond, Virginia was opened in the Fall of 1987.
The Second Women’s Roundtable Conference was held in Richmond October 9-10, 1987, with the Virginia Women Attorneys Association and the League of Women Voters again being the major sponsors. The judicial selection process in Virginia, and models for reform, was a significant focus as was gender bias in the Virginia legal system. The VWAA President, Darrel Long Tillar, was asked to serve on Supreme Court Chief Justice Carrico’s Commission on the Future of Virginia’s Judicial System.
VWAA’s second major CLE, "Estate and Personal Financial Planning for the Professional" was presented in Arlington on March 4, 1988. A unique combination CLE/CME "From Viability to Liability; Legal, Medical, and Ethical Issues Involved in Reproduction" was presented by the VWAA on April 21, 22, 1988 in McLean and Richmond respectively.
VWAA’s Eighth Annual Meeting was held at Virginia Beach June 16-18, 1988 in conjunction with the Virginia State Bar’s Annual Meeting. The following officers were elected: Marni E. Byrum-President, Carolyn Carpenter-President-Elect, Martha Brooks van der Veen-Secretary, and Lisa Germano-Treasurer. During the State Bar’s meeting, the VWAA received its second Award of Merit from the Conference of Local Bar Associations, this time for its Women and the Constitution 1787-1987 Summer Institute. During 1988, the organization distributed its Directory of the Virginia Women Attorneys Association, our fifth directory. There was an additional dues increase effective for the 1988 membership year, requiring $55.00 for members admitted two years or more, $35.00 for those admitted less than two years, and $15.00 for non-voting law student members.
The Third Women’s Roundtable Legislative Conference was held in Richmond on October 15, 1988. Topics included child day care and early childhood programs, volunteer organizations working together, problems of the aging, basic lobbying techniques, children at risk, experimental family courts, and working with the media. Brigadier General Gail Reals, USMC, Commanding Officer, Quantico Marine Base, Virginia was the featured luncheon speaker.
In October 1988, a statewide VWAA Judicial Review Committee was appointed to respond to Governor Baliles’ request for VWAA endorsements for the Supreme Court vacancy occasioned by the resignation of Justice Poff. On January 4, 1989, the VWAA witnessed the investiture of VWAA member Elizabeth B. Lacy, as the first woman on the Supreme Court of Virginia and held a reception in her honor at the Jefferson Sheraton Hotel in Richmond attended by the Governor, Chief Justice, Attorney General and many other notables. In addition, United States Senator John Warner requests VWAA recommendations for federal eastern and western district court appointments.
In June1989, at its Ninth Annual Meeting, held in Virginia Beach, the following officers were elected: Carolyn Carpenter-President, Sharon Chickering-President-Elect, Cherry Harman-Secretary, and Kimberly Pinchbeck-Treasurer. At the June Meeting of the Virginia State Bar, the Roanoke Chapter was awarded a Certificate of Merit for its program to assist abused spouses through the court system.
Also in 1989, the VWAA Board decided to publish both a general newsletter and a new version of the scholarly Lex Claudia to be published twice a year. The "new" newsletter format appeared for the first time with the Fall 1989 Newsletter. In addition, the VWAA established a Long-Range Planning Committee.
On November 3, 1989, VWAA member Rebecca Beach Smith became Virginia’s first woman federal district court judge.
On November 14, 1989, the VWAA sponsored its VWAA Forum for the Future at the Richmond Marriott with the Keynote Address given by Senator Emilie Miller. Retiring Delegate Dorothy McDiarmid was honored at this forum.
The VWAA held its First Annual Midyear Legislative Meeting at the Valentine Museum in Richmond on February 3, 1990, following a legislative reception held the previous evening. The attendees heard reports on the issues of equal admission to institutions of higher education, abortion, equitable distribution, and surrogate parenthood. The members voted to oppose discrimination on the basis of gender in any state-supported institution of higher education, to oppose the pending transmutation of property in equitable distribution bills, and to oppose the pending surrogacy bills.
On April 20, 1990, the VWAA and EX-POSE (Ex-Partners of Servicemen (Women) for Equality) presented an updated Military Divorce Seminar in Norfolk, Virginia. The VWAA participated with Judith Clarke, President, Judith Clarke Consultants, Inc. in promoting a CLE entitled "Training the Attorney in New Business Development" that was offered to small groups in various locations during the spring of 1990.
The VWAA’s Tenth Annual Meeting was held June 15, 1990 in Virginia Beach. During the annual meeting, the organization sponsored a successful silent auction. Officers elected were: Sharon Chickering-President, Linda Berry President-Elect, Debra Sifford-Secretary, and Kimberly Pinchbeck-Treasurer.
Our 1990 Directory of the Virginia Women Attorneys Association was made available about this time.
The new Lex premiered in Summer 1990 with feature articles on VMI and other issues from the Virginia Legislature. The Winter 1991 issue of Lex Claudia presented articles on housing, health and the Supreme Court of Virginia’s decision in Haddon v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., declaring Virginia’s Workers’ Compensation Act the exclusive remedy for an employee/victim of sexual harassment in the workplace. After the Haddon decision, the VWAA mobilized its legislative committee to study the case. After analyzing the issue, the committee favored legislation that would remove sexual harassment form the exclusivity clause of the Worker’s Compensation Act. During this same time, the VWAA furthered this position by authoring an amicus brief in support of the plaintiff in Kelly v. First Virginia Bank-Southwest.
On April 19-20, 1991 in Williamsburg, Virginia the VWAA presented You Be the Judge, a seminar for lawyers on the judicial selection process and the brainchild of the Women Judges’ Fund for Justice. During this time period, Governor Wilder requested the VWAA to screen candidates and make recommendation for filling two vacancies on the Second Circuit Judicial Bench. The organization continued to make recommendations for other judicial vacancies across the state without being officially requested.
The organization held its Eleventh Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach in June 1991. Officers elected were: Linda Mallory Berry-President, Carol Dois Woodward- President-Elect, Debra Sifford-Secretary, and Kimberly Pinchbeck-Treasurer. Justice Barbara Keenan was honored for her appointment to the Supreme Court of Virginia at the VWAA reception following the annual meeting.
On December 5, 1991, the VWAA celebrated its tenth Anniversary with a gala celebration in Northern Virginia. Honored at the celebration were our past presidents, founders and other women attorneys and judges who are leaders in our professional community, and who have advanced the rights of women and children in the Commonwealth.
The third issue of the restyled Lex Claudia was published in the Fall of 1991. The theme of this issue was "Then and Now: Women Lobby, Petition & Litigate for Their Rights." A number of VWAA members turned their attention to the problems of sexually-induced injuries, and lobbied intensively for a new accrual statute which lengthened the period in which an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse may bring a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator.
On January 20, 1992 the VWAA held its annual Mid-Year Legislative Meeting. The members voted on several new issues including opposing any efforts by the Department of Youth and Family Services to compel female juveniles being detained in a secure detention home to submit to a complete gynecological exam. The membership also heard a success story relating to the passage of Delegate Cohen’s bill to amend the Workers Compensation Act relating to claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress arising from sexual harassment. At the January Board meeting, a new dues structure was approved calling for regular yearly dues of $105 (same for Judges) and associate yearly dues of $50.
In June 1992, the VWAA held its Twelfth Annual Meeting, again at Virginia Beach. Officers elected were Carol Dois Woodward- President, Sandra Havrilak-President-Elect, Kathleen Dooley-Secretary, and Kimberly Pinchbeck-Treasurer. The VWAA recognized Judge Johanna Fitzpatrick for her election to the Court of Appeals and announced the organization’s selection of "Outstanding Women Leaders in Virginia" in the areas of business, advocacy and politics.
By the Fall of 1992, the VWAA had five chapters--Northern Virginia, Roanoke/New River Valley, South Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Northern Shenandoah Valley.
The Summer 1992 issue of Lex Claudia was produced by a special association with the T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Virginia and focused on Sexual Violence and Abuse, including an article by The Honorable Donald S. Beyer, Jr., Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.
Back by popular demand, VWAA again presented the You Be The Judge Seminar, this time in Charlottesville, on October 16-17, 1992. Chief Justice Carrico was the keynote speaker.
The Midyear Legislative Meeting was held in Richmond on January 18, 1993. Through this meeting the VWAA stressed the importance of involvement in legislative issues such as the establishment of a family court and promotion of alternative dispute resolution procedures. The VWAA also continued to stress the importance of its members serving on Virginia State Bar Committees. The Winter 1992 newsletter contained information indicating that of the 17,985 active members of the VSB, 4,131, or approximately 23% were women. Women held approximately 19% of VSB committee and commission appointments.
In June 1993 the VWAA’s Thirteenth Annual Meeting was held in Virginia Beach. Officers elected were Sandra Havrilak-President, Betty Jo Anthony - President-Elect, Kathleen Dooley-Secretary, and Nancy Ingram-Treasurer.
The Summer 1993 Lex Claudia focused on Virginia’s new family court, alternative dispute resolution, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The VWAA’s You Be The Judge Seminar was conducted twice in December, namely on December 3-4, 1983 in Northern Virginia and December 5-6, 1993 in Roanoke. The 1993 Directory of the Virginia Women Attorneys Association was distributed for the 1993-1994 membership year.
At the VWAA’S Mid-Year Legislative Meeting, held in January 1994, the membership voted to participate with the Family Law Section of the Virginia State bar to study the issue of rehabilitative spousal support. The VWAA’s Long Range Planning Committee, chaired by Carol Dois Woodward was hard at work throughout the Spring of 1994. In addition, the VWAA co-hosted a training program, "Linkages: Community Partnership for Women with Cancer."
The VWAA’S Fourteenth Annual Meeting was held in Virginia Beach in June 1994. At the annual meeting of the Virginia State Bar, held concurrently in Virginia Beach, VWAA member Kathleen O’Brien was installed as the first woman President. VWAA Officers elected were Betty Jo Anthony-President, Susan Hicks- President-Elect, Kathleen Dooley-Secretary, and Nancy Ingram-Treasurer. The featured speaker was Ann Kolker, Director, Public Policy/Health and Reproductive Rights, who spoke on "Health Care Reform Affecting Women."
As of July 1, 1994, after two years of volunteer work, Jill Wood became the VWAA’s Administrative Director on a part-time basis and a contract employee. The dues structure was revamped to provide that a lawyer admitted less than 12 months would pay no annual dues, admitted less than four years-$60.00, all other lawyers and judges would pay $105.00 and students (non-voting) would pay $50.00.
The Fall 1994 Lex Claudia focused on: employment rights of women with breast cancer, litigating breast cancer medical malpractice cases, basics of social security disability, and lawyers and life-threatening disease, and sexual harassment after Harris v. Forklift.
The Mid Year Legislative Meeting was held in January 1995 at the Tower Club. Karen Raschke, of Planned Parenthood was one of several speakers who addressed the group and gave helpful hints on lobbying legislators as well as comments on pending legislation.
The VWAA’s Fifteenth Annual Meeting was held in Virginia Beach in June 1995. Officers elected were: Susan Hicks-President, Kimberly Pinchbeck- President-Elect, Kathleen Dooley-Secretary, and Nancy E. Ingram-Treasurer. Julie Goldscheid, Esquire, of the National Organization for Women Legal Defense Fund, was the guest speaker and addressed the legal remedies available under the ViolenceAgainst Women Act of 1994.
The Mid-Year Legislative Meeting was held January 15, 1996 at the Downtown Club followed by the annual legislative reception in the Parish Hall of historic St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Nancy Ross, staff to the Virginia Commission on Youth, addressed the group on juvenile justice issues.
In February 1996, one of our founding mothers, Dulcey B. Fowler, died of complications from rheumatoid arthritis.
The Spring 1996 issue of Lex Claudia featured articles expressing "Interests and Views of VWAA Members on the Bench." Around this time, the VWAA announced its new toll free number, capable of also receiving faxes.
The VWAA’s Sixteenth Annual Meeting--marking the completion of fifteen successful years, was held in Virginia Beach in June 1996. Officers elected were: Kimberly Pinchbeck- President, Karen Crist-President-Elect, Kathleen Dooley-Secretary, and Joan Fine-Treasurer. Delegates Jerrauld C. Jones and Toddy Puller informed VWAA members of their views of the 1996 legislative session at the annual meeting. Nine past presidents were on hand to help celebrate the organization’s anniversary.
With the publication of its first Leadership Manual our organization takes another step forward while rightfully smiling in pride at our past accomplishments.
Under the leadership of President Kimberly Pinchbeck, the Association’s activities for the 1996-1997 year commenced with a Board meeting in Charlottesville in September. The Directors received a positive Treasurer’s Report (indicating a balance of nearly $50,000.00) and a positive Membership report (with a Membership Directory in the works). Much of the budget discussion centered on how to earmark funding that would help in chapter development. A Special Chapter Funding Committee" was created to begin work on this important issue. The Board took action to obtain association-wide MCLE accreditation to facilitate the sponsorship of CLE programs by our Chapters.
In October, The Association held another of its acclaimed "You Be the Judge" programs, with the Commission on Women and Minorities in the Legal System as a co-sponsor. The event was held in Richmond with a reception celebrating our judges and our first fifteen years hosted on Friday evening preceding the Saturday program. Interestingly, all the women judges who presented at the program had previously attended the program.
In November 1996, Director L. Anne Coughenour was the victim of a random, robbery-motivated, act of violence committed in her law office. At the time, Anne served as the President of the Richmond Chapter of VWAA. The Association joined in mourning Anne at an inspiring memorial service held at the University of Richmond Chapel and at a gathering held in the Law School’s atrium. A reward fund to help identify and apprehend the perpetrator was established and generously contributed to by VWAA members.
The January 1997 Board meeting was held in conjunction with the Mid-Year Legislative Meeting planned by Legislative Co-Chairs Julie McClellan and Karen Michaels. Attendees were updated on anti-choice, joint custody, parental rights, stalking, domestic violence, rehabilitative alimony, and other likely bills of interest to the Association and received an impressive 20-page compilation of VWAA legislative positions. The day was capped by a reception for legislators co-sponsored with the Metropolitan Richmond Women’s Bar.
Carol Agee and Beth Bittel, as Judiciary Committee Co-Chairs were extremely busy during the year with several federal court nominations in addition to a Virginia Supreme Court vacancy. Individual Chapter Judicial Nominations Committees also participated in this important and always time-pressured process.
Budget discussion at the April 1997 Board meeting again focused on supporting chapters with all five of our Chapters reporting variously on holiday receptions, CLE programs, and community service initiatives that had either already been held or were in the works. The Board, recognizing the support our Association has received from the judiciary, also took final action to resolve a potential conflict issue by voting to allow judges (state and federal) to be non-voting, non-dues paying members of VWAA.
The long-awaited Spring 1997 issue of Lex Claudia was published by Co-Editors Nancy E. Ingram and Barbara S. Williams and hit the mail in late May. This edition featured six articles centered around the theme of Virginia’s youth. Several of our judicial members were contributing authors and ensured that the issue would be widely read and appreciated.
The annual meeting marking the end of President Pinchbeck’s year was held in June at Virginia Beach, with the theme of celebrating our first fifteen years. All former Presidents were invited back and many attended and were recognized. In keeping with the year’s emphasis on Committees and Chapters, there was no invited guest speaker. Instead, Committee Chairs and Chapter Presidents reported on their activities during the past year. Certificates of Appreciation were awarded to Committee Chairs, Chapter Presidents and Board members by President Pinchbeck who was in turn recognized for her fine efforts as our President.
The new Association officers for the 1997-1998 year elected at the June Annual Meeting were: Karen A. Crist, President; Nancy E. Ingram, President-Elect; Renae Reed Patrick, Secretary; and Wendy J. Hahn, Treasurer. Thanks to the sponsorship of friends of VWAA solicited by Board members, the Association was able to provide its now annual reception following the annual meeting.
President Karen Crist in her initial President's report presented to the Board in September 1997, indicated that she saw her year as President "as a year of making the organization more responsive to chapter concerns." She announced that Chris Floyd would continue to provide leadership as Chair of the "Chapter Concerns Committee." The standing committee chairs all indicated a need for "a few good women" to help with their work during the upcoming year.
In October 1997, the Virginia State Bar’s magazine, Virginia Lawyer, featured a complimentary article entitled "The Virginia Women Attorneys Association: Still going strong after 16 years." Past Presidents Kimberly Pinchbeck, Darrel Tillar Mason, Marni Byrum, Legislative Chair Julie McClellan, and Administrative Director Jill Wood were interviewed for the article which highlighted some of our history, our involvement with the judicial nominating process, and our legislative activities.
At the November Board Meeting, the Chapter Concerns Committee reported on its work since being charged with the task of studying chapter growth and funding. Discussion centered on the historical alignment of regions and the later development of chapters, resulting in regional representatives being made voting board members, but not chapter presidents. There was lively interest in the question of organizational funding support for chapter special events. The Committee agreed to keep working. It was also reported at this meeting that we have registered the domain name of VWAA.org on the Internet.
Much excitement was generated by the announcement of plans for the 1998 VWAA Conference Chaired by Nancy E. Ingram to be held at Wintergreen in October 1998. The "master strategist" was already busy with assignments in preparation for the Conference "Reaching New Heights: Strategies for Success."
The combined Mid-Year Legislative Meeting and Board Meeting was held at the Downtown Club in Richmond on January 19, 1998. At the Legislative Meeting, special presentations were made on reproductive freedom, legislation being generated by the Virginia Commission on Youth, family violence prevention, and family law. The meeting was followed by a reception for legislators co-sponsored by the Richmond Chapter of VWAA and the Metropolitan Richmond Women’s Bar.
At the Board meeting, the Chapter Concerns Committee recommended that the chapter allocation formula be changed, that the formula provide for an increased allocation, that chapters be allowed to continue to request Board funding for special events on an individual event basis, that chapters should remain affiliated with regions, that chapter presidents or their representatives become voting members of the board, that a default provision be used to assign a member to a chapter if that member fails to choose a chapter affiliation, and that new chapter formation should be actively encouraged. Board members were to consider the report and recommendations for action at the next meeting.
At the April 1998 Board Meeting, the Board received a presentation on a computer software program designed to address the Association’s growing membership list and membership information retrieval problems. Jill Wood, the Association’s hard-working Administrative Director, has been working with the consultant and the board approved necessary expenditures for new software to better serve our members.
The Board also approved an allocation requested by the Virginia Commission on Women and Minorities in the Legal System to help defray the cost of the upcoming program at the Virginia State Bar’s Annual Meeting. Our Association also was solicited by the Virginia CLE Foundation to co-sponsor a "Contemporary Torts Seminar" and to identify some of our own members as presenters.
With some revision, the recommendations made by the Chapter Concerns Committee in January were approved by the Board, with necessary By-laws changes to be presented to the membership in June at our annual meeting. The action of the Board was taken to allocate an increased portion of the dues back to the chapters in an effort to encourage chapters to develop programs to meet the needs of their membership and increase their chapter membership.
The Association celebrated the elevation of members Kathleen H. Mackay to the Fairfax Circuit Court bench and Teena Grodner to the J&DR General District Court bench in Fairfax.
The year ended with the annual meeting in Virginia Beach with a keynote presentation by The Honorable Jane Marum Roush on "Women in the Judiciary." The By-laws changes related to chapter representation on the Board were approved by the membership. Elected as officers for the 1998-1999 year were: Nancy E. Ingram, President; Barbara S. Williams, President-Elect; Renae R. Patrick, Secretary; and M. Chris Floyd, Treasurer. VWAA members, and other attendees at the Virginia State Bar’s annual meeting, all enjoyed the reception sponsored by the Association following our annual meeting.
Getting off to a jump-start, President Nancy Ingram held her first board meeting on June 20, 1998, the day after her election as President. Much of the discussion centered on the upcoming 1998 VWAA Conference. Carol Woodward’s marketing Committee reported being poised to send out conference brochures encouraging early registration.
The next Board meeting was held on October 4, 1998 at Wintergreen following the hugely successful 1998 VWAA Conference, "Reaching New Heights: Strategies for Success." All parts of the conference were great--the CLEs, the Friday night gala reception for Justice Cynthia Kinser, the golf tournament to benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, the children’s activities, the Chapter hospitality events, the Saturday night banquet with guest speaker Dr. Regina Barreca, and the first ever VWAA Trade show featuring over 20 vendors. Special credit, in addition to the obvious credit to Conference Chair Nancy Ingram, goes to CLE Committee Chair Sandra Havrilak who along with Linda Jackson and Wendy Hahn, arranged for 16 women judges from all over the Commonwealth to collaborate in presenting a program on trial and appellate practices, moderated by our own Honorable Leslie Alden. The Association of Women Judges held their meeting in conjunction with the conference which added to the overall success of the event.
The Midyear Legislative Meeting, planned by Legislative Chair Catherine Hammond featured presentations on issues facing women in elected office, proposed shared custody bill, issues facing the juvenile justice system, recent issues and reforms in family law, recent issues in reproductive rights and recent reforms in and issues facing the mental health system in Virginia. Following tradition, the afternoon was earmarked for individual lobbying to promote VWAA’s legislative agenda, and the early evening was reserved for a Legislative Reception sponsored by the VWAA and the Metropolitan Richmond Women’s Bar.
The April Board meeting included discussion of VWAA’s support of the Gender Bias in the Courts Task Force public hearings, the upcoming annual meeting plans, consideration of changes to our judicial endorsement process, and a need to take a close look at the legislative agenda adoption process. Judicial Co-Chairs Beth Bittel and Elizabeth Dillon were commended on their continuing hard work. Board action at this meeting modified the Association’s dues structure to provide that new lawyer members joining after January lst in a given year would pay a reduced fee for the remainder of the membership year. Those admitted 4 years or less would pay only $40 (reduced from $60) and those admitted for longer than 4 years would pay only $60 (reduced from $105.)
VWAA Newsletter Editor Sterling Byrd-Roberts, with the able assistance of Administrative Director Jill Wood, was successful in publishing the third in a series of terrific newsletters for the year. The Spring 1999 issue featured a President’s Message from Nancy E. Ingram describing the work of the Virginia Commission on Women and Minorities in the Legal System (of which VWAA is a founding member). This message was complemented by an article by Eileen McNeil Newkirk on the Gender Bias in the Courts Task Force.
The June Board meeting for the 1998-1999 year was held the day before the annual meeting at Virginia Beach. Final conference budget reports proved it to be a financial success. Lex Claudia Editor Darrel Tillar Mason presented the Board with advance copies of the Spring 1999 issue which focused on Litigation. The Lex is such a major effort and expense that its publication has been planned on an every-other year basis.
The Association’s annual meeting at Virginia Beach, featured a tribute to women practicing in Virginia 25 years or longer with Betty A. Thompson as the keynote speaker (humorously introduced by the inimitable Honorable Leslie Alden.) This year’s VWAA annual meeting activities were highlighted in the promotional materials provided by the Virginia State Bar thanks to the work of President Nancy Ingram who also helped to provide a hospitality suite for VWAA members and guests to enjoy over the course of the meeting. Program Committee Chair Diane Preston-Moore and her committee members ensured that this was one of the best annual meetings in recent years.
Officers elected at the annual meeting were: Barbara S. Williams, President; Renae Reed Patrick, President Elect; Linda Jackson, Secretary; and M. Chris Floyd, Treasurer. This web page is a major accomplishment of President Williams’ term as VWAA President.
Darrel Long Tillar Mason