WLAM to celebrate its 100th anniversary on April 27 in Detroit

The Women Lawyers’ Association of Michigan will mark its 100th anniversary this year, celebrating the milestone at a Centennial Gala on April 27 at The Colony Club in Detroit, The event is black tie optional and kicks off with a reception to honor the organization’s past presidents at 5 p.m., followed by dinner program in the ballroom at 6 o’clock.

The WLAM was founded – a century ago before women had the right to vote in this country – by five self-proclaimed “ardent Portias of Detroit,” according to attorney Donna MacKenzie, incoming president of the organization.

“Today, our organization has grown extensively in size and purpose,” said MacKenzie. “Our membership includes attorneys, judges and law students. We have become a statewide organization with seven regional chapters, providing wide-ranging networking and professional development opportunities for women lawyers.

“Our mission is to advance the interest of women members of the legal profession, promote improvements in the administration of justice, and promote equality and social justice for all people.”

The Colony Club was one of the first women’s clubs in the city of Detroit, opening in 1928. Many of the early meetings of WLAM took place at the club.

“We chose this venue because of its historic ties to women of the past,” MacKenzie said of the site for the Centennial Gala.

The theme this year will be “Looking Back, Moving Forward” and will honor all of the past presidents of the WLAM state organization, as well as the past presidents of each region and foundation.

“As a result, we will be honoring over 350 women at this event,” said MacKenzie.

The event is almost sold out and will be attended by many Michigan judges, current and retired, as well as many prominent members of the legal community. Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Clement will conduct the swearing in ceremony of the new board of WLAM. Supreme Court Justice Brian Zara also will be in attendance, along with retired Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Kelly. A number of judges from other state courts will be on hand as well.

Also scheduled to attend are Michigan gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer, attorney general hopeful Dana Nessel, and former Wayne State Law Dean Jocelyn Benson, a candidate for Secretary of State in Michigan.

The keynote speaker will be noted author Irin Carmon. Described by The New York Times as being “known for her smarts and feminist bona fides,” Carmon is a journalist, author and speaker. She is a contributing writer to the Washington Post’s Outlook section and the co-author of “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” which spent three months on The Times’s bestseller list.

WLAM also will bestow a number of lifetime achievement awards at the event. The honorees include retired Judge Theresa Doss of the 36th District Court, Oakland County Circuit Judge Denise Langford Morris, and attorney Julie Ferstman, a past president of the State Bar of Michigan.

The new board of directors for the WLAM also will be sworn in at the event. Along with new president Donna MacKenzie (Olsman MacKenzie & Wallace), president-elect Alena Clark, assistant prosecuting attorney for Saginaw County, also will be sworn in. Other incoming officers include: Vice President Roquia Draper of Warner Norcross & Judd; Treasurer Ryan Kelly of Kelly & Kelly; Secretary Erin Klug of Varnum; and Immediate Past President Julie Gafkay of Gafkay Law.
 

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