The Albany Law School community gathered online to celebrate three inspirational and accomplished women in the law during the 26th Kate Stoneman Day on March 22. The revered law school tradition honors women who embody the spirit of Kate Stoneman, class of 1898, who was the law school's first female graduate and the first woman admitted to practice law in New York State.
Nancy Hogshead-Makar, an Olympic champion, civil rights lawyer, and CEO of Champion Women, a nonprofit providing legal advocacy for girls and women in sports, was awarded the prestigious Miriam M. Netter '72 Stoneman Award.
Hon. Christine M. Clark '96, Associate Justice of the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department and Donna E. Young, founding dean of Ryerson University's Faculty of Law in Toronto, Canada and a former longtime Albany Law School faculty member were honored with Kate Stoneman Awards.
After an introduction from Donna deVarona—the first female sportscaster on network television and a fellow member of Champion Women—Hogshead-Makar shared details of her Olympic swimming career and her career practicing and teaching law during her keynote address. From 2001 to 2013, Hogshead-Makar was a tenured professor at Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, where she taught first-year torts and sports law courses, including Gender Equity in Athletics.
"Title IX, this amazing statute, was passed on June 23, 1972. Possibly other than women's suffrage and Kate Stoneman, no other piece of legislation has had a greater impact on women's lives," Hogshead-Makar said. "Title IX cracked the barriers to allow women to have equal opportunity to pursue economic and social advancement through education. Sport is an important part of education."
Hogshead-Makar also shared some of Champion Women's research including data about opportunities for female athletes. She noted that her work as a lawyer helped prepare her to lead the nonprofit and offered advice to those hoping to one day turn a passion project into a career.
"Do the one thing that you cannot help yourself from doing. If you haven't found that work yet, that's ok. Sometimes you have to create the meaning behind the work first," she said. "I had to create meaning for swimming 800 laps today, for me, I was fulfilling God's purpose for my life. That fueled me for going to be successful."
"I will take this award with me into the world to enable me to do more for women and girls in sports and in the legal field."
Hon. Christine M. Clark '96, Associate Justice of the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department and Donna E. Young, founding dean of Ryerson University's Faculty of Law in Toronto, Canada and a former longtime Albany Law School faculty member were honored with Kate Stoneman Awards. Clark was introduced by Hon. Elizabeth Garry '90, presiding justice on the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department.
Clark—a longtime legal leader—started her career in private practice, then became an assistant district attorney in Schenectady County, where she spent seven years processing sex crimes and child abuse cases. She became the first bureau chief of the county's Special Victims Unit and streamlined the process for survivors access to justice. She then steadily moved up the judicial bench to her current seat in the Third Department.
Even though the event moved online due to the pandemic, Clark found a silver lining. For the first time her childhood friends, sisters, nieces, stepdaughters, and loved ones scattered across the country could tune in.
"I recall being a student when the first Kate Stoneman awards were given in 1994. I never imagined one day I would be a recipient," she said. "When thinking about my remarks, I kept thinking about all Albany Law School has given me. It gave me models and mentors—such as judge Mae D'Agostino, Judge Leslie Stein '81, and Christine Cioffi '78, all former awardees—it gave me moot court and taught me how to argue."
"This institution gave me a first-rate legal education, connections, and a community that I cherish. I look at this community of talented women and I think how far we have come from when Kate Stoneman was a student," Clark said.
Dean Donna E. Young was introduced by her former student Catrina Young '20, who spoke on behalf of the nearly 60 students who nominated Young for the award.
Young recognized two Albany Law School Community members in her remarks: Professor Bernard Harvaith, who launched the law school's first women in the law course, and James Campbell Matthews (class of 1870), the first black law school graduate in New York. In 1885, Matthews was nominated by President Grover Cleveland to serve as Recorder of Deeds for the District of Columbia, a position previously held by Frederick Douglass. He also won the election for Judge of Albany's Recorder's Court in 1895. At the time he took office, Matthews held the highest judicial position of any African-American up to that time.
"It is a privilege to have been a part of a faculty who sent these two alumni out into the profession. To change the world," Young said. "Albany Law holds an important place in history and I am delighted to have been a part of that history."