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Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys celebrates 35 Years

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GRAWA past presidents helped create a celebratory mood with some “singing” and humor. From left: U.S. Magistrate Judge Marian Payson, Eileen Buholtz, NYS Court of Claims Judge Debra Martin, Jill Paperno, Tiffany Lee, Diane Cecero, Sharon Stiller, Elaine Cole, Brighton Town Court Judge Karen Morris and Trudy Nowak. Photo credit: Nora Jones

The 35th Anniversary Gala of the local women’s bar association was officially “sold out” as several founding members, many past presidents and GRAWA President Jodie Ryan gathered with friends and family on April 27 at the Penthouse at One East Ave.

The jubilant crowd included at least three generations of women and men, with representatives from several other bar associations, including Monroe County Bar Association President Jill Cicero and Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York President Amy Baldwin Littman.

“The event was a huge success,” Ryan said early Monday morning. “I would like to thank everyone who took the time to come out and celebrate this memorable milestone with GRAWA.”

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GRAWA President Jodie Ryan pauses for a photo with GRAWA’s first president Trudy Nowak, traveling from Arizona to join the festivities.

GRAWA President-elect Katie Courtney headed the Anniversary Gala Committee, with help from Marlene Attardo, Diane Cecero, Elaine Cole, Marge Karowe, Hon. Karen Morris, Victoria Munian, Josie Sheppard and Margaret Sanchez.

A photo slideshow played on one wall, and the many past GRAWA presidents helped create a celebratory mood with a bit of singing and shaking of maracas as the history of GRAWA was performed through a rap song composed and presented by Judge Karen Morris.

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Silver Sponsor D4, LLC was represented by Val Kulik and Faruk Ferizovic.

A more serious GRAWA history was presented in the evening’s program book, as were some noteworthy memories by many past GRAWA presidents. In recent years, GRAWA’s membership count has put it among the top six WBASNY chapters of the 19 now in existence. Starting in 1983 with approximately 50 members (and many fewer women in the profession), GRAWA now has 300-plus members.

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From left, GRAWA President-elect Katie Courtney, Western New York chapter President Anne Joynt, WBASNY Correspondence Secretary Joy Thompson, WBASNY President Amy Baldwin Littman and past president of the Western NY chapter Melissa Hancock Nickson.

Greta Kolcon (Woods, Oviatt, Gilman LLP) will become the first Rochester-based president of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York this June; although she couldn’t be there in person due to her daughter’s college graduation, she provided a prerecorded greeting. Kolcon’s upcoming WBASNY presidency drew a round of applause and cheers.

Trudy Nowak became GRAWA’s first president when the bylaws were written in 1983. She has stayed in touch with many of her Rochester colleagues even though her career took her to Arizona 16 years ago.

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Robin Marble, Karen Chung, and Zuleika Shepard all have careers in public civil legal services.

“There is no question that GRAWA needed to be formed in 1983,” Nowak said. “And there is no doubt it is still addressing relevant issues.”

Danielle Ponder and the Tomorrow People provided musical entertainment that brought many to the dance floor.

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