Tanya R. Kennedy, associate justice of the Appellate Division, First Department, and Cheryl E. Chambers, associate justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department, will be honored on Jan. 19 at the New York State Bar Association’s (NYSBA) Constance Baker Motley Symposium.
Justice Kennedy will receive the 2021 John E. Higgins, Esq. Diversity Trailblazer Award and Justice Chambers will receive the inaugural Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Beacon Award — both awards are being presented by the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion.
The Diversity Trailblazer award honors exceptional efforts to promote the full and equal participation of diverse people at all levels of the legal profession and is named for John Eric Higgins, former co-chair of the Committee on Minorities in the Profession – now the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion. He passed away in 2017.
The Beacon Award was created after the death of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It seeks to honor those who bring light and reason even during dark times.
Justice Kennedy was appointed associate justice of the Appellate Division, First Department, by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in July 2020. She was first elected to Civil Court in 2005 and has since served in Criminal Court, Civil Court, Family Court and as an acting Supreme Court justice and supervising judge of the New York County Civil Court.
She is a member of NYSBA’s Executive Committee, the association’s Women in Law Section and on the board of directors of the New York City Bar Association. She is a past president of the National Association of Women Judges where she arranged cutting-edge legal education for the bench, bar and community to address topics like artificial intelligence, e-discovery, bail reform, mental wellness, engaging millennials and building a personal brand.
Her deep commitment to increasing the pipeline of underrepresented communities in the legal profession is exhibited by her participation in the Role Model Program of New York Coalition of 100 Black Women and her hosting of summer interns from the Sonia & Celina Sotomayor Judicial Internship Program.
She received her undergraduate degree from Penn State and her J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Justice Chambers has served on New York State’s courts for more than 20 years and was appointed to her current seat by Gov. Cuomo in 2016. She is just the second Black woman appointed to the Appellate Division and the first to serve in a senior seat. During her time on the New York State Supreme Court, she presided over numerous high-profile, complex criminal matters.
Prior to her judicial services, Justice Chambers was an assistant district attorney in the Trial and Appeals Bureaus in the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, where she eventually rose to become chief of the Domestic Violence Bureau.
She is a member of NYSBA’s Committee on Diversity and Inclusion and a member of the executive committee of the Criminal Justice Section. She was chair of the Judicial Section from 2018 to 2019. She also has held leadership positions in several other affinity bar associations including chair of the Board of Directors for the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association, the Judicial Friends and the Association of Supreme Court Justices of the State of New York. She is also a member of the New York County Lawyers Association’s Committee on Minorities and the Law, where for decades she has assisted law students preparing for their legal careers.
She received her undergraduate degree from Brooklyn College and her J.D. from Boston University School of Law and an MBA from Rutgers Graduate School of Management.
Honoring attorneys who render extraordinary service to the public and the profession is part of NYSBA’s Annual Meeting tradition. The 144th Annual Meeting will focus on more than 65 different topics each day from Jan. 19 to 29. Subjects include Employment Litigation in the Wake of COVID-19, Conducting a Jury Trial in the Shadow of COVID-19, State Tax Implications From the Pandemic and Vaccines: Legal Mandates and Challenges.
The Presidential Summit on Wednesday, Jan. 27, will look at The COVID-19 Pandemic: Legal, Constitutional, and Public Health Issues. One of the nation’s top constitutional law scholars, Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of Berkeley Law, and Irwin Redlener, a pediatrician, public health activist, author, academic, and advisor, will speak at the event.
Other featured speakers at the Annual Meeting include Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Pascal Saint-Amans, director of the Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Jeh Johnson, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.
For more information on NYSBA’s Annual Meeting, click here.
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: Brendan Kennedy