On February 13, Law Women presented Congresswoman Diana DeGette ’82 with their Alumna of the Year Award. The 12-term congresswoman, who represents Colorado’s first district and who served as Democratic chief deputy whip for 14 years, thanked the women at NYU Law who helped shape her career. “I really do feel like I am in some extraordinary company of wonderful NYU Law women who have done great things,” DeGette said.
In particular, DeGette thanked her former professors Walter J. Derenberg Professor of Trade Regulation Eleanor Fox ’61, a previous recipient of the Law Women award, and Clinical Professor of Law Claudia Angelos. DeGette noted that Angelos’s prison law clinic first opened her eyes to ways the law punishes women.
“Many of these imprisoned women received horrible sentences when they had been accessories to crimes committed by men. And witnessing these sorts of discrepancies that we see in the law against women…really helped me as I formulated my law career,” DeGette said.
After law school, DeGette worked as a public defender specializing in workers’ rights issues. Clients sometimes asked for a male lawyer, she recalled. Of her decision to run for a congressional seat, DeGette said: “Eventually, I realized I could help people one at a time, or I could just get elected to office and write the laws which would help a lot of people.”
DeGette currently serves as the co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus. In 2019 she co-authored the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act (EACH Woman Act), legislation aimed at overturning the Hyde Amendment, which restricts federal funds from paying for abortions. As of March 2019, the bill had been referred to the House Subcommittee on Health.
“DeGette works tirelessly to protect the rights of women, immigrants, and minorities both in Colorado and across the country,” said Naz Akyol ’21, who presented DeGette with the award alongside her Law Women co-chair, Alex Lyass ’21.
“While there is plenty to work on when it comes to women and gender in the legal profession,” Dean Trevor Morrison added, “through Law Women, and the many women who have passed through the law school, we are helping to prepare leaders who will work on those issues.”
Posted March 26, 2020