February 2, 2009


Trailblazer has worked for 41 years to promote gender equality and civil liberties

ALBANY-Karen DeCrow of Jamesville has been awarded the New York State Bar Association's 2008 Ruth G. Schapiro Memorial Award. DeCrow served as President of the National Organization for Women from 1974 to 1977. DeCrow received the honor at the House of Delegates Meeting at the Marriott Marquis in New Yorkon January 30.

The award, sponsored by the Committee on Women in the Law, honors a member of the State Bar who makes positive contributions in areas such as domestic violence, child abuse, bias, health and other concerns of women in the profession and in public life.

"Throughout her prestigious career, Karen DeCrow has worked tirelessly to lead and empower women to enhance their status professionally and in the community. She has been a trailblazer in promoting gender equality and civil liberties for more than 40 years," said Committee on Women in the Law Chair Taa R. Grays of New York(MetLife). "We are pleased to honor her pioneering efforts that have advanced the strides of today's women and will inspire the next generation of women."

"I am very proud and really delighted to receive this award. It's such an honor," said DeCrow. "I accept this on behalf of the many deserving people in New Yorkworking to ensure equality for both sexes."

One of the most celebrated leaders of the women's movement, DeCrow has made many contributions to the concerns of women through her commitment to public service, including pro bono services and her bar association work. She co-founded the Central New York Women's Bar Association and served as its president from 1989-1990. DeCrow has focused her practice in constitutional law, gender and age discrimination issues, and civil liberties.

DeCrow is a frequent lecturer and accomplished writer on law and issues affecting women. DeCrow was awarded the 1998 New York State Woman of Achievement/Distinction Award by former Governor Goerge E. Pataki. She received the Women's Bar Association of the State of New York's Joan L. Ellenbogen Founder's Award in 2003 and the Doris Hoffman Medal of Honor Award in 2005.

During her tenure at NOW, DeCrow raised considerable awareness of gender role stereotypes in the media and fought for the acceptance and integration of women to Ivy League universities and other typically male-dominated organizations.

The award was developed and is administered by the Committee on Women in the Law in honor of its first chair, Ruth G. Schapiro. The committee's initial report, developed in 1987 under Schapiro's guidance, has served as a springboard for subsequent Association reports and actions on issues affecting not only women in the profession, but the public at large. These issues include domestic violence, child abuse, bias, health and gender equity. Through her leadership, the committee instituted educational programs and publications for the public and the profession.

Hon. Judith S. Kaye, retired Chief Judge of the State of New York, was the first recipient of this award. Past honorees were Fern Schair, Senior Vice-President, American Arbitration Association; Maryann Saccomando Freedman, Past President of the New York State Bar Association, currently with Cohen & Lombardo, PC; the Hon. Sondra Miller, retired Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department; the late Hon. M. Dolores Denman, formerly Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Fourth Department; the Hon. Betty Weinberg Ellerin, former Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, First Department, currently with Alston & Bird LLP; retired Bay Shore practitioner Anne Mead; Hon. Rachel Kretser, Albany City Court, Criminal Part; the late Joan L. Ellenbogen, former New York City practitioner; Hon. Kristin Booth Glen, Surrogate's Court, New York County; posthumously to former Chief Judge Lawrence H. Cooke; M. Catherine Richardson, Past President of the New York State Bar Association and retired private practitioner; Professor Eileen R. Kaufman, Touro College, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center; Denise E. O'Donnell, Commissioner, NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, and Assistant Secretary for Criminal Justice; Catherine J. Douglass, Executive Director, inMotion; Professor Rhonda Copelon, CUNY School of Law; posthumously to Edith I. Spivack, former Assistant Corporation Counsel of the New York City Department of Law; and the Hon. Jacqueline W. Silbermann, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Matrimonial Matters.

The 76,000-member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New Yorkand the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Founded in 1876, State Bar programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.