Discovering Justice Events

Her Honor: Stories of Challenge and Triumph from Women Judges

Wednesday, April 26th, 3:30-5:30 pm | Hybrid

This panel discussion and book signing event on the collection of the same name tells the stories of 25 women judges and their paths and experiences on the bench. Lauren Stiller Rikleen, who edited the book, is a former Discovering Justice Board Member and current Director of Lawyers Defending American Democracy.

Moderated by Judge Patti Saris, join us for a panel discussion between Lauren Stiller Rikleen, Judge Nancy Gertner (Ret.), Justice Fernande R. V. Duffly (Ret.), and Judge Angel Kelley. They will discuss the inequalities, bias, and other barriers that stood in the way of some of our most influential women judges and how they overcame them.

This event is hosted by Discovering Justice, the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, the U.S Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts, the Hampden County Bar Association, Citizens for Juvenile Justice, the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association, and the Harvard Women’s Law Association.


Abim Thomas | Abim Thomas is Vice President and Associate General Counsel in the Litigation group at Fidelity Investments. Prior to Fidelity, Abim was the Head of Global Litigation at Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated. Abim is a former member of the Boston Bar Association Council, the former President of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association, and the former Vice Chair of Massachusetts’ Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers Oversight Committee. Abim serves on the Board of Discovering Justice and the Ella Lyman Cabot Trust.


Judge Patti Saris | United States District Judge Patti B. Saris graduated from Radcliffe College in 1973 and Harvard Law School in 1976. She clerked for the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, then went into private practice. In 1986, Judge Saris became a United States Magistrate Judge. In 1989, she was appointed as an Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court. In 1994, she was appointed to the United States District Court by President Clinton, serving as Chief Judge from 2013 to 2019. She became chair of the United States Sentencing Commission in January 2011.


Lauren Stiller Rikleen | Lauren Stiller Rikleen brings an extraordinary background to her work as President of the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership as an author, former law firm partner, mediator, and a leader in professional and community organizations. Rikleen is an expert on millennials in the workplace and building strong teams. She is the author of four books, more than 200 articles, and is the editor of “Her Honor: Stories of Challenge and Triumph from Women Judges.” 

Justice Fernande V. Duffly (Ret.) | Judge Fernande R.V. Duffly earned a B.A. from the University of Connecticut in 1973 and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1978. As an attorney, she provided pro bono legal services to indigent clients through the Volunteer Lawyers Project. In 1992, Justice Duffly was appointed to the Probate and Family Court, where she served until her appointment to the Appeals Court in 2000. In 2011, Governor Deval Patrick appointed her as an associate justice of the Supreme Judicial Court.

Judge Nancy Gertner | Judge Nancy Gertner is a graduate of Barnard College and Yale Law School where she was an editor of The Yale Law Journal. She received her M.A. in Political Science at Yale University. Since 1998, she has been an instructor at Yale Law School, teaching sentencing and comparative sentencing institutions. In 1994, President Clinton appointed her to the United States District Court Judge for the District of Massachusetts. In September of 2011, Judge Gertner retired from the federal bench and became part of the faculty of the Harvard Law School

Judge Angel Kelley | Angel Kelley is a United States District Court Judge for the District of Massachusetts. Nominated in 2021 by President Biden, Judge Kelley joined the federal judiciary after twelve years as an Associate Justice of the Superior Court and state District Court in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Judge Kelley is a graduate of Colgate University, earned her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, and received an LL.M. from Temple University School of Law.

Kayla Nordman

Kayla Nordman believes strongly in expanding access to comprehensive civic education to provide the next generation with the resources they need to uphold and expand upon the values of American democracy and create a more equitable future. Before joining Discovering Justice, she worked as a Legislative Intern at the Massachusetts State House and as a Program Manager for the Massachusetts Center for Civic Education. Kayla graduated from Suffolk University with a BA in International Relations.