Catherine (Kate) Cerulli was still a student at SUNY Buffalo School of Law when she used a grant to study the local government’s response to cases of domestic violence in Buffalo. Before earning her juris doctor in 1992, she helped establish SUNY Buffalo Law School’s Women, Children & Social Justice Clinic.
In 2012, the clinic created two new fellowships to honor clinic founders Cerulli and Sue Tomkins. As part of the initiative to fund the scholarships, the Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys hosted a wine and cheese event on Oct. 4.
Guests sampled three pairings of wine and cheese provided by Veritas. A sauvignon blanc from Chile was served with chêvre and a French red wine was paired with manchego. A spread of hot appetizers was furnished by the Monroe County Bar Association. The attendees were a mix of GRAWA members and UB alumni.
Cerulli is the director of the Laboratory of Interpersonal Violence and Victimization and assistant professor with the Department of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Rochester. She maintains a joint appointment as the director of research at the Women, Children and Social Justice Clinic. She was formerly an assistant district attorney in Monroe County, where she created a special misdemeanor domestic violence unit.
The Catherine Cerulli Women, Children and Social Justice Research Award was established to fund student research relating to intimate partner violence and assist in the presentation of that research at a conference or in a publication. The Suzanne E. Tomkins Women, Children and Social Justice Advocacy Fellowship will fund work by a law student during the summer or academic year on a specialized advocacy project focused on intimate partner violence issues.
Cerulli became passionate about domestic violence while working at a summer camp for inner-city youth while she was still a teenager. This personal connection to kids whose families had experienced domestic violence set the path for a career dedicated to combating domestic violence. In addition to her law degree, Cerulli earned a doctorate in criminal justice from the University of Albany, where her doctoral dissertation addressed intimate partner homicide.
— Photos by Nora A. Jones