Politics, Power, and Women’s Leadership: Symposium Program

Politics, Power, and Women’s Leadership
Friday, March 5, 2021
1:00-5:00 p.m. ET

The Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Network’s half-day symposium on Politics, Power, and Women’s Leadership will explore how we can transform 2020’s historic levels of civic engagement into long-term gains through sustained work in the political and legal spheres. Co-sponsored by the N.Y.U. Journal of Legislation and Public Policy and the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law, the symposium will highlight policies and legislation to support and help return women to the workforce as we build back better from this “She-cession,” as well as discussing the wide range of ways to sustain and deepen civic engagement in the coming years. The day will conclude with a keynote conversation between Representative Katie Porter (CA-45) and Melissa Murray, Frederick I. and Grace Stokes Professor of Law and faculty director of the Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Network at NYU Law.

This event is free and open to the public, but registration via Zoom is required. Attendees will receive a confirmation email with the Zoom link and password after registering.

Continuing Legal Education (CLE)

This event offers up to a total of 3.5 CLE credits in New York State in the Areas of Professional Practice. The credit is appropriate for both newly admitted and experienced attorneys. (Panel 1: 1 credit, Panel 2: 1 credit, Keynote Conversation: 1 credit)

For a password-protected link to the PDFs of the CLE written materials, please email womensleadership@nyu.edu. Materials are linked to their original source below.

CLE Written Materials

Panel 1: Rebuilding Better: Working Together to Strengthen the Social Safety Net & Return Women to the Workforce (1:15-2:15 p.m. ET) 

Panel 2: Maintaining Momentum: Harnessing Women’s Civic Engagement into 2021 and Beyond (2:45-3:45 p.m. ET)

Keynote Conversation: Being the Leader You Want to See in the World (4:00-5:00 p.m. ET)

Schedule (all times ET)

1:00-1:10 p.m.: Welcome and Introductory Remarks
1:15-2:15 p.m.: Panel 1 - Rebuilding Better: Working Together to Strengthen the Social Safety Net & Return Women to the Workforce
2:45-3:45 p.m.: Panel 2 - Maintaining Momentum: Harnessing Women’s Civic Engagement into 2021 and Beyond 
4:00-5:00 p.m.: Keynote Conversation: Being the Leader You Want to See in the World with Representative Katie Porter (CA-45) and Professor Melissa Murray


Panel 1: Rebuilding Better: Working Together to Strengthen the Social Safety Net & Return Women to the Workforce (1:15-2:15 p.m. ET)

Sylvia Law ’68 (moderator), Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Law, Medicine, and Psychiatry Emerita, NYU School of Law
Melissa Boteach, Vice President of Child Care and Early Learning, National Women’s Law Center
Maribel Hernández Rivera ’10, District Director, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Ann O’Leary, Former Chief of Staff, Office of the Governor of California
Brittny Saunders, Deputy Commissioner for Strategic Initiatives, New York City Commission for Human Rights

Panel 2: Maintaining Momentum: Harnessing Women’s Civic Engagement into 2021 and Beyond (2:45-3:45 p.m. ET)

Kelly Dittmar, PhD (moderator), Associate Professor of Political Science, Rutgers-Camden; Director of Research and Scholar, Center for American Women and Politics, Rutgers-New Brunswick
Amanda Brown Lierman, Executive Director, Supermajority
Emily Cain, Executive Director, EMILY’s List
Nsé Ufot, Chief Executive Officer, New Georgia Project
Lala Wu, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Sister District

Keynote Conversation: Being the Leader You Want to See in the World (4:00-5:00 p.m. ET)

Representative Katie Porter (CA-45), in conversation with
Melissa Murray, Frederick I. and Grace Stokes Professor of Law; Faculty Director, Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Network, NYU School of Law

Panelist Bios

Panel 1: Rebuilding Better: Working Together to Strengthen the Social Safety Net & Return Women to the Workforce

Sylvia Law ’68

Sylvia Law ’68 (moderator) is the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Law, Medicine, and Psychiatry Emerita at NYU School of Law. For more than four decades, Law has been one of the nation’s leading scholars in the fields of health law, gender justice, poverty, and constitutional law. She has played a major role in dozens of civil rights cases before the US Supreme Court and in lower state and federal courts, and she has testified before Congress and state legislatures on a range of issues. In 1983, Law became the first lawyer in the United States selected as a MacArthur Fellow. She is the co-director of the Arthur Garfield Hays Program and chair of the Rose Sheinberg Lecture program at NYU School of Law. She has been active in the Society of American Law Teachers, served as its president from 1988 to 1990, and was honored by the organization with the 2001 Great Teacher Award. In 2004, Law was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Melissa Boteach

Melissa Boteach, Vice President for Income Security and Child Care/Early Learning at the National Women’s Law Center, oversees NWLC’s advocacy, policy, and public education strategies to ensure that all women and families have the income and supports they need to thrive. Prior to joining NWLC, Melissa spent nearly a decade at Center for American Progress (CAP), where she founded and led the Poverty to Prosperity Program, growing it from a team of 1 to 17, establishing projects to center the voices of low-income families; leading the team’s message and narrative change work, overseeing intersectional advocacy campaigns, and developing bold ideas to cut poverty & expand opportunity that resulted in new legislation, executive actions, and other progress. Melissa also served as policy editor on The Shriver Report, a book and multimedia platform by Maria Shriver and Center for American Progress on the 1 in 3 U.S. women on the financial brink, and solutions to help them push back. Previously, she worked at The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), where she led interfaith antipoverty campaigns. She has testified before Congress and frequently serves as a media spokesperson on issues relating to economic opportunity. A Harry Truman and George J. Mitchell Scholar, Melissa has a Master’s of Public Policy from The George Washington University, a master’s of Equality Studies from University College Dublin where she studied women in social movements, and bachelor’s degrees from University of Maryland in government and Spanish.

Maribel Hernández Rivera '10

Maribel Hernández Rivera ’10, District Director, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Maribel Hernández Rivera is District Director for Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She previously served as Executive Director of Legal Initiatives for the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs where she was responsible for creating and promoting innovative access to justice programs for immigrants including ActionNYC and NYCitizenship. Maribel has also served as Supervising Attorney at Immigrant Justice Corps where she directly supervised Department of Justice Accredited Representatives as they helped low-income New Yorkers apply for immigration benefits. Before that, Maribel was a Fried Frank/ MALDEF fellow. As a fellow, she represented individuals in immigration detention, submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of the U.S. government in the Arizona v. United States case, and participated in a group advocating for the representation of people in immigration detention. Maribel received her J.D. from New York University School of Law, her Masters in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, and her A.B. from Harvard University. Upon law school graduation, Maribel served as law clerk to the Honorable Mary M. Schroeder in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Ann O'Leary

Ann O’Leary recently served as Chief of Staff to the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom. O’Leary led the Governor’s office during an unprecedented time of challenge for California, including managing the worst wildfires in the state’s history, the bankruptcy of one of the major investor-owned utilities, a strained electricity grid, statewide teacher strikes, COVID-19 public health and economic response, racial riots, and the results of the climate crisis facing California. O’Leary also led the development and implementation of the proactive agenda of the Governor to expand opportunity and affordability in California, including notable expansions of California’s Earned Income Tax Credit and Paid Family Leave. Prior to joining the Governor’s office, O’Leary was a law partner at Boies Schiller Flexner. O’Leary brings decades of experience in government, politics, social policy, and non-profit leadership. She served as Senior Policy Advisor to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and Co-Executive Director of the Clinton-Kaine Transition Project. She co-founded the national non-profit organization, the Opportunity Institute, as a continuation of her work as Senior Vice President of Next Generation, where she launched a national early childhood education initiative “Too Small to Fail” in collaboration with the Clinton Foundation. She was a Deputy City Attorney in San Francisco; Executive Director of UC Berkeley Law’s Center on Health, Economic and Family Security; the legislative director for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton; and a policy advisor with the White House Domestic Policy Council under President William Jefferson Clinton. O’Leary holds a BA from Mount Holyoke College, an MA in Education Policy from Stanford University, and a JD from UC Berkeley, School of Law.

Brittny Saunders

Brittny Saunders is Deputy Commissioner for Strategic Initiatives at the NYC Commission on Human Rights. At the Commission, Brittny manages projects related to racial justice as well as the intersection of human rights and emerging technologies. Before joining the Commission, Brittny worked for the Office of the Mayor, most recently as Acting Counsel to the Mayor and prior to that as Deputy Counsel to the Mayor. While at the Mayor's Office, Brittny helped craft legislation barring discrimination on the bases of credit and criminal history in the employment context, codifying the Commission on Gender Equity (CGE) and limiting cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. Before joining local government, Brittny worked for the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), where she was Supervising Attorney for Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice and at the Center for Social Inclusion (now RaceForward). Brittny was a 2010 Fellow in Media, Information & Communications Policy with the Rockwood Leadership Institute, a 2018 Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow at Harvard Law School and, in 2019, a member of the inaugural class of Senior Fellows in Residence at the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy at Boston College Law School. She has an AB in sociology from Harvard College and a JD cum laude from Harvard Law School.


Panel 2: Maintaining Momentum: Harnessing Women’s Civic Engagement into 2021 and Beyond

Kelly Dittmar

Kelly Dittmar, PhD (moderator) is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University–Camden and Director of Research at the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at the Eagleton Institute of Politics. She is the co-author of A Seat at the Table: Congresswomen’s Perspectives on Why Their Representation Matters (Oxford University Press, 2018) (with Kira Sanbonmatsu and Susan J. Carroll) and author of Navigating Gendered Terrain: Stereotypes and Strategy in Political Campaigns (Temple University Press, 2015). Dittmar’s research focuses on gender and American political institutions. Dittmar earned her BA from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI, and her PhD from Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

Amanda Brown Lierman

Amanda Brown Lierman is the current Executive Director at Supermajority, an organization aimed at training and organizing women across age, race and background to push for women’s equity. As Supermajority's Executive Director, Amanda is one of the youngest women and only woman of color to head a major progressive, multiracial women’s organization. Before her time with Supermajority, Amanda was the Democratic National Committee’s political and organizing director during the 2018 midterms and is a former national political director for Rock the Vote. Under her leadership, Supermajority will continue their work of developing a multiracial community that centers women or color and addresses issues like racial and economic justice.

Emily Cain

Emily Cain joined EMILY’s List as Executive Director in 2017 with a decade of experience as a state legislator and public policy leader, two cycles as one of the country’s top ranked Democratic congressional candidates, more than a decade of work in higher education and recent leadership as Chief Strategy Officer for a private sector tech company. Emily, who was first elected to office at age 24, made her mark in Maine politics serving in both the House and Senate over five terms in the state legislature, leading the Appropriations Committee as Chair and serving as the youngest woman House Minority Leader in state history. In 2012, against all odds, Cain led House Democrats back into the majority by recruiting top candidates, electing more women, and winning tough seats in Maine’s challenging rural areas. In 2014 and 2016 Emily ran for U.S. Congress in two of the most competitive house races in the country. The daughter of a shoe salesman and a sign language interpreter, Emily is the oldest of three sisters and learned at a very young age the value of hard work, family, and education. Emily and her husband, Danny Williams, live in Orono, ME, with their dog, Bartlet the pug.

Nsé Ufot

Nsé Ufot is the Chief Executive Officer of the New Georgia Project (NGP) and its affiliate, New Georgia Project Action Fund (NGP AF). Nsé leads both organizations with a data-informed approach and a commitment to developing tools that leverage technology with the goal of making it easier for every voter to engage in every election. Nsé and her team are also developing Georgia’s home-grown talent by training and organizing local activists across the state. She has dedicated her life and career to working on civil, human and workers’ rights issues and leads two organizations whose complementary aim is to strengthen Georgia’s democracy. Under Nsé’s leadership, NGP has registered over 500K eligible Georgians to vote and has no plans of slowing down.

Lala Wu

Lala Wu is a Co-Founder and the Executive Director of Sister District, which builds enduring progressive power in state legislatures. She is thrilled and humbled to be the first woman of color to take the helm of the organization. In her previous role as the Director of Engagement & Partnerships, she successfully led the expansion of the organization's volunteer infrastructure to 50,000 members and over 150 chapters in 31 states. Since its founding in 2016, Sister District has raised over $3.6m in small dollar donations directly to candidates and reached out to over 3.1m voters through doors, calls, texts, and postcards on behalf of over 100 state legislative races in key swing districts. Lala also led the development of strategic partnerships with local and national organizations such as the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, EMILY’s List, Human Rights Campaign, Vote Save America, and more. Prior to Sister District, Lala clerked for federal judges in the Northern District of California and the District of Massachusetts. She was also an attorney at Morrison & Foerster LLP in San Francisco and Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell LLP in Denver, where she counseled clients on state and local land use, regulatory, transactional, and litigation matters. Lala graduated from UC Berkeley, School of Law and Barnard College of Columbia University with a degree in Urban Studies.


Keynote Conversation: Being the Leader You Want to See in the World

Congresswoman Katie Porter

Congresswoman Katie Porter  represents the 45th Congressional District in Orange County, California. As a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, she’s asked tough questions of bank CEOs and administration officials to hold them accountable to the American people. She’s also a proud member of the House Natural Resources Committee, where she works tirelessly to protect our beaches and public lands, elevate science-based solutions to the climate crisis, and keep Orange County families safe from wildfires. She chairs the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, where she leads efforts to hold polluters accountable. Eager to invite families into the conversations happening in the halls of Congress, Rep. Porter has developed a reputation for her use of visual aids during Congressional hearings. She wielded a whiteboard while grilling the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, over how an entry-level employee at his bank couldn’t make ends meet. She also used her signature whiteboard to break down potential cost barriers to COVID-19 tests, which helped her secure a commitment from the Trump Administration to make testing free for every American. As a single working mom, Rep. Porter knows firsthand about the challenges that families face. She’s introduced bipartisan legislation that would more than double the amount families can set aside pre-tax to help pay for preschool, summer day camp, before or after school programs, and child or adult daycare. She’s continued to press for a repeal of the limits on the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction, which has hit California’s middle-class families especially hard. Her bill to hold insurance companies accountable for covering mental health was signed into law by President Trump. Before coming to Congress, Rep. Porter spent nearly two decades taking on the special interests that dominate American politics and drown out the voices of working families. A lifelong consumer advocate, she taught bankruptcy law at the University of California, Irvine School of Law. As California’s independent watchdog against the banks, she oversaw big banks that had cheated Orange County homeowners to get them to follow through on their promise to help families get back on their feet. As a consumer finance expert, Congresswoman Porter also helped Congress pass the original Credit CARD Act in 2009, which enacted federal protections from abusive credit card fees. Rep. Porter is a single mom of three school-aged kids. She lives with her family in Irvine, California.

Melissa Murray

Melissa Murray is the Frederick I. and Grace Stokes Professor of Law at NYU and the Faculty Director of the Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Network. Professor Murray is a leading expert in family law, constitutional law, and reproductive rights and justice, whose work has been published in numerous law journals. She is an author of Cases on Reproductive Rights and Justice, the first casebook to cover the field of reproductive rights and justice, and a co-editor of Reproductive Rights and Justice Stories. She has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, and provides commentary for popular media outlets, NPR, CNN, ABC, MSNBC, PBS, and the Strict Scrutiny podcast, of which she is a co-host. Professor Murray is an honors graduate of the University of Virginia and Yale Law School, where she was notes development editor of the Yale Law Journal. Following law school, Murray clerked for Sonia Sotomayor, then of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and Stefan Underhill of the US District Court for the District of Connecticut. Prior to joining the NYU faculty, Professor Murray was on the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, where she was the recipient of the Rutter Award for Teaching Distinction. From March 2016 to June 2017, she served as interim dean of the Berkeley Law.