Suffolk County Women’s Bar Association

By Lisa S. Fine

30thshot-lgFounded in 1984, the SCWBA celebrated it’s 30th year in existence on March 25, 2014. A large crowd of attorneys, judges, members and supporters gathered at the Watermill in Smithtown for dinner, cocktails and dancing. Thanks to the technological savvy of Valerie Manzo’s husband, a slide show depicting pictures of our members, past presidents and boards commemorated decades of enthusiastic dedication to our organization. Mostly though, everyone was chuckling at their hair and clothing in the 80’s!

The Honorable C. Randall Hinrichs, District Administrative Judge for Suffolk County opened with a few statistics about equality in the workplace, recognizing that the “Women’s Bar is more relevant than ever” and wishing us more continued success. The Honorable Sandra Sgroi, Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department pointed out that only “seven out of twenty judges are female”, challenging us to tip the scales in future years.
Our Keynote speaker for the event was Bernadette Castro, Chief Operations Officer of Castro Convertibles and former Commissioner of New York State Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. As a professional and a mother to four children, Ms. Castro spoke of the trials and struggles that working mothers face in the attempt to balance career and home life, which is something many of us in the room could identify with!
Her speech was encouraging, with such important lessons as “Life is only ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent of what you make of it”. As women, it is important for us to remember that if we are treated unfairly, in the workplace or otherwise, we can accept it, or challenge it and, in so doing, we can change our circumstances. Ms. Castro recognized that women are good at multitasking as well as being empathetic and good communicators. She encouraged us to use those skills, making ourselves “indispensable” to our employers, clients or whomever so that we can move ahead. Of course, she also reminded her audience that it is important to “reach back and help people” as we, ourselves, have hopefully been helped along the way.
The event was an incredible success as we now embrace the next thirty years and hopefully make even more strides toward gender equality in the bench, bar and beyond…only without the 80’s hair!