June 8, 2018: State Bar Association Honors Judge and Children’s Lawyer for Excellence in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare

By Communications Department

Judge Kathie E. Davidson and Betsy Ruslander have been honored with the 2018 Howard A. Levine Award for Excellence in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare, given by the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Children and the Law.

The awards, presented on June 6 at the State Bar Center in Albany, recognize those who have done outstanding work to improve New York’s child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

“Judge Davidson, a trailblazing and caring judge, is an innovator when it comes to helping children and families and Betsy Ruslander has devoted her career to improving the representation that children receive in the Family Court,” said David J. Lansner of Lansner & Kubitschek (New York City), who serves as chair of the Committee on Children and the Law. “It is with great pleasure that we honor these two hardworking leaders who have accomplished so much.”

Davidson is administrative judge of the Ninth Judicial District, which includes Westchester and Rockland counties among others. Prior to that, she was the supervising judge for the Family Courts in the same district. She was the first African-American woman elected to a countywide judgeship in Westchester County when elected in 2003 as a family court judge.

She is the lead judge of the state Child Welfare Court Improvement Project and National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges’ Victim Act Model Court. In addition, she is the chairperson for the Attorneys for Children Advisory Committee in the Ninth Judicial District, a member of the state Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children and created the Westchester County Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Committee.

Ruslander is the director of the Office of Attorneys for Children for the Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department in Albany. Prior to serving as director, she was the assistant director from 1994 to 2010, primarily in charge of coordinating training for the panel attorneys in the 28 counties of the Third Judicial Department.

She is a long time member and former chair of the State Bar Association’s Committee on Children and the Law. She is also a member of the Statewide Advisory Committee on Attorneys for Children and the state Children’s Justice Task Force.

The award ceremony was attended by New York State Chief Judge Janet DiFiore and State Bar President-elect Henry M. “Hank” Greenberg.

The Howard A. Levine Award is named for retired Court of Appeals Judge Howard A. Levine, who was the first chair of NYSBA’s Special Committee on Juvenile Justice, now known as the Committee on Children and the Law. He is an advocate and leader in the effort to improve New York’s child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

About the New York State Bar Association

The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, the Association has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.


Contact: Christian Nolan 

Senior Writer

[email protected]


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