Faculty Spotlight

Prof. Young Evokes Mentor’s Memory in Stirring Katz Lecture

Professor Donna Young

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Professor Donna Young says she was honored when asked to deliver the 2nd Annual Katheryn D. Katz ’70 Memorial Lecture at Albany Law School.

After some thought, she penned the talk entitled “Say Her Name: Law Reform and Activism at the Intersection of Race and Gender,” inspired by the core interests of her late colleague and mentor, Prof. Katheryn Katz, to understand, challenge and do something about what has been described as the law’s failure to guarantee the dignity and equality of all women.

“There are so many ways that the law fails women, and in particular women of color, and so I had some difficulty trying to figure out how to narrow down my talk,” Prof. Young said during the April 12 lecture. “In order to ground myself and to focus my talk, I asked myself, ‘What advice would Kathy give me?’ How would she suggest that I harness what I know about the law’s pitfalls and possibilities into a message that both offers a spirited critique of the law and a message of hope? And I think I know her answer — I think she would have told me to focus on the things that I know something about and that I really care about.”

In the nearly 40-minute talk, Prof. Young delivered a critique of the legal system and sounded a call for the academy to join with popular movements in order to address the issues facing higher education that she said will ultimately undermine efforts at law reform.

“This is the hopeful part: When popular movements join with the academy and pool together our talents and resources and contribute something unique to the discussion, we can revolutionize the system,” she said. “We should all learn from Kathy. She changed Albany Law School. Through her long and accomplished legal career, she represents just about the right balance between the role she played in the academy as a lawyer and as an activist.”

Listen to the entire 2016 Katz lecture:

Prof. Young returned to Albany Law School — where she teaches criminal law, employment regulation, federal civil procedure, and gender and work — in August 2015 after spending a year at the Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance at the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) in Washington, D.C., and currently serves as a member of the AAUP's Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure. Her research focuses on the areas of law and development, comparative labor/ employment law, feminist legal theory, critical race theory, and international labor and human rights law.

Before joining the faculty, Prof. Young worked at the Toronto labor law firm Cornish Roland, the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and the NYC Mayor's Office of Labor Relations. She was an Associate in Law at Columbia Law School, a Fellow at Cornell Law School's Gender, Sexuality, and Family Project, a Visiting Scholar at Osgoode Hall Law School's Institute of Feminist Legal Studies in Toronto, a Visiting Scholar at the Faculty of Jurisprudence at the University of Roma Tre in Rome, and a consultant to the International Development Law Organization in Rome during which time she traveled to Uganda to conduct fieldwork on the interaction of women's property rights and HIV/AIDS.

She has presented her work at conferences across the globe.

The Katheryn D. Katz ’70 Lecture Series was established in 2014 to focus on the family law topics that Prof. Katz made central to her teaching, including domestic violence, gender and the law, children and the law, reproductive rights and inequality. The inaugural Katz Memorial Lecture was delivered last year by Albany Law School Prof. Melissa Breger.

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