NYSBA Trailblazer Maryann Saccomando Freedman Speaks Out
She is a trailblazer in the legal profession and at the New York State Bar Association. Host David Miranda talks to NYSBA’s first female president, Maryann Saccomando Freedman, in the latest episode of “Miranda Warnings.”
Freedman served as president of the New York State Bar Association from 1987 to 1988. Association leaders sought her out to run for the position after she successfully led the Erie County Bar Association. She was elected Executive Committee secretary in 1984 and president-elect in 1986.
Later that year, Saccomando Freedman took on the task of visiting members in all of New York’s 62 counties. That allowed her to get to know members and their needs in their home communities.
As NYSBA president, she successfully changed the association bylaws to limit the terms of section chairs to three years and eliminate consecutive terms by members. She also worked to open up the process for nominating leaders, which paved the way for more women and minorities.
“If you looked at the nominating committee at that time, they were all on the exec committee and they renominated themselves. So it was a constant cycle of these people who went from nominating to exec committee to nominating committee and they never got off the executive committee. So that closed the procedure to a lot of good people,” she said.
Breaking a gender barrier was not easy. Saccomando Freedman discusses how she had to pay close attention to all aspects of her life from her words to her appearance.
“The burden I felt I was always on. I was always exposed. I was always being assessed. I had to be conscious of what I was doing and how I was doing it,” she said. “Because I was always on, I had to look right. My hair had to be combed I had to have makeup on. You shouldn’t have to worry about that, but I did because I was always on! “
She also knew that she was representing more than just herself.
“If I couldn’t do it, nobody could. If I did it, they all could do it. There were a lot of people who thought we weren’t ready for a woman and there were a lot of people who certainly didn’t think it should be me. ”