Honoring the Life and Impact of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Virtual Presentation

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Roger Williams University presents an exploration of the lives and careers of two judicial pioneers.

On Friday, March 12 at noon, the RWU community is invited to “Honoring the Life and Impact of Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” a conversation featuring Roger Williams University and School of Law alumna Elizabeth Ortiz ’07 L’10, who was recently appointed as the state of Rhode Island’s first Latina Family Court judge. 

Through her personal story of breaking barriers – in 2018, she also became the first Latina appointed as a municipal court judge in Rhode Island – Ortiz will discuss the challenges faced by women and people of color in the judiciary and the practice of law, as well as the work that is being done to dismantle barriers across the state. 

Ortiz will also share how Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has inspired her, and draw parallels and similar experiences between the groundbreaking pathways of their careers.

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a hero – to people like myself [in law practice and the judiciary] and to women in general, because of everything she did for women. Ginsburg and pioneers like her make the judiciary and legal world more aware that issues of representation and communication are still happening,” says Ortiz. “I’m very cognizant of that now in my role as a judge, I really make sure I do everything I can to bring more awareness to the communication and representation issues, and the cultural issues and the way they affect parenting and the way people look at families.

“What I want people to take away from my talk is awareness of these issues and that they still need to be addressed, but also hope – hope  for the legal community, hope for litigants,” Ortiz continues. “Gov Raimondo did an amazing job of doing something that was long overdue: diversifying the judiciary. I was happy to see that, but hope it doesn’t end there.

An active advocate for diversifying the state’s bench and bar, Oritz is a founding member of the R.I. Hispanic Bar Association and former member of the R.I. Bar Diversity Task Force. She received her bachelor of paralegal studies through the Providence campus and her juris doctor at RWU Law, while also juggling the challenges of being a working mom. Prior to her Family Court judgeship, she was a sole legal practitioner with offices in North Providence and Pawtucket and served as in-house counsel to Sakonnet Capital Partners, LLC.

The keynote address will be followed by a question-and-answer session with Judge Ortiz and breakout room discussions where attendees can discuss the ideas and issues presented in the conversation. The event is sponsored by the RWU Women’s Affinity Group.

At 1 p.m., following the keynote address and breakout sessions, the community is also invited to attend a panel discussion of alumnae from the legal studies program. Join the conversation of a diverse group of distinguished legal studies graduates who will discuss gender equity in the workplace, work/life balance, and the importance of mentorship, and offer advice to students interested in careers in the law or in social justice. Panelists include:

  • Alyse Antone S mith, Esq. ’14, Legal Studies and Political Science
    Special Assistant Attorney General (Criminal Division), Rhode Island Attorney General's Office; Newport, Rhode Island
  • Alyssa M. Kelly, Esq. ’15 Legal Studies and Psychology
    Associate Attorney at Atwood & Cherny, P.C. (Family Law); Boston, Massachusetts
  • Nikki Marie Oliveira, Esq.’07, Legal Studies and Math
    Senior Associate, Nutter (Estate Planning, Tax and Elder Law); Boston, Massachusetts
  • Jasmine Lopez Calderon ’07, Legal Studies and Spanish
    Senior Account Manager  (Community Organizing, Fundraising, Marketing), Archipelago Strategies Group (ASG); Boston, Massachusetts
  • Ellen Messali, Esq. ’07, Legal Studies and Political Science
    Staff Attorney, New Haven Legal Assistance Association (Immigration Law); New Haven, Connecticut

Please join us for an afternoon of conversation about the legacies and careers of groundbreaking women in the legal and judicial system. The events are open to all.

View the Program

Both events will be presented through the same link.