ABA President Bellows Honored as “Unstoppable Force for Gender Equity”
American Bar Association President Laurel Bellows received a 2012 Global ATHENA Leadership Award Oct. 15 for professional excellence, community service, and actively assisting women in their attainment of professional growth and leadership skills. The award is annually conferred by ATHENA International, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting, developing and honoring women leaders.
Accepting the recognition at the ATHENA International Leadership Summit Gala in Chicago, Bellows urged attendees to help one another in professional development. She recalled her own mentor, Esther Rothstein, who taught Bellows that her support of other women should always come with their agreement to pay it forward.
“If you come to me for help, you’re going to hear Esther’s question right back at you: ‘Do you promise that when the next woman comes to ask you for help, you will not turn her down?’” said Bellows. “Make sure that when you’re [providing help], you’re doing it for somebody who’s going to do it for the next person.”
Bellows emphasized the importance of such grassroots efforts to advance women, as gender inequity still exists despite more women than ever in the workplace. “Visibility does not equal equality. We are visible. We are not equal. And we cannot continue to be silent about it.”
ATHENA International Founder Martha Mertz praised Bellows’ longtime commitment to women’s issues, which has extended to her ABA leadership positions. “She has been an unstoppable force for gender equity,” said Mertz.
As ABA president, Bellows established the ABA Task Force on Gender Equity earlier this year to address the continuing gender equity issues that exist in the legal profession and in society at large. She also created the ABA Task Force on Human Trafficking, which is mobilizing the legal profession to combat human trafficking through public awareness, advocacy, training and education.
According to ATHENA International, the organization recognizes exceptional leaders who inspire others to achieve excellence in their professional and personal lives. Since its inception in 1982, ATHENA International has honored thousands of leaders in more than 500 communities worldwide. Past award recipients include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, journalist Nina Totenberg, women’s advocate Marie Wilson and former U.S. Rep. Patricia Schroeder.
In addition to Bellows, ATHENA International honored Olympic gold medalist Micki King and Heather Paquette, managing director of KPMG, at the Chicago event.