Karen DeCrow, an ardent feminist, fought for women’s full and equal participation in the world outside the home – from the courtroom to the boardroom to the halls of political influence. She actively sought a world where “the gender of a baby [would have] little or no relevance to future pursuits or pleasures – personal, political, economic, social and professional.” She was an activist, lawyer, mentor, international lecturer and author. Karen was the founding member of the upstate chapter of the National Organization for Women and served as the organization’s fourth national president. She was a founding member of the Central New York Women’s Bar Association and remained an active member throughout her life. Her influence extended beyond feminism alone to challenging gender role stereotypes, solidifying men’s parental rights and promoting social equality for all races, creeds, ethnicities and sexual orientations. Karen believed civil rights were human rights that should be extended to all, and she devoted her life to fighting for them through legal process, political activism, education and debate.
The annual Karen DeCrow Award is presented to a member of the judiciary or legal profession who works to advance the principles that Karen promoted throughout her life. Candidates must meet geographic eligibility criteria for membership in the CNYWBA, but need not be a member of the CNYWBA. An awards subcommittee (convened and chaired by the Chair of the CNYWBA Standing Membership Committee) solicits nominations in February of each year. The subcommittee may solicit nominations from CNYWBA membership, local bar associations (OCBA, Federal, etc.), members of the judiciary or other community leaders as it sees fit. The Membership Chair will submit an award recommendation on the subcommittee’s behalf to the CNYWBA Board of Directors for a vote.
The CNYWBA presents the award to the winner at its Annual Meeting in April. The winner is invited to attend the Annual Meeting with his or her family, and is asked to select the person he or she would like to have introduce them. The winner is presented with a commemorative plaque. CNYWBA will also issue such member communications, press releases and statements as may be appropriate to honor the recipient in the legal community as well as the community at large.
Please submit your nomination(s) by March 15, 2023 to CNYWBA President Elect Leah A. Witmer.