Statement of Jocelyn Frye, President of the National Partnership for Women & Families
Kessler Was a Founding Member, First Board President Of The Women’s Legal Defense Fund
WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 24, 2023 – “The National Partnership for Women & Families is saddened to hear of the passing of Retired United States District Court Judge Gladys Kessler, and we extend our deepest condolences to her family and loved ones. Judge Kessler was a jurist committed to the fair administration of the law and a proud champion of the rights of women and children, on and off the bench.
“Judge Kessler was a trailblazer, helping to break down barriers for women in the field of legal education. She was in the early wave of women who attended Harvard Law School, at a time when female lawyers were too often excluded from many legal job opportunities. She also opened one of the first public interest law firms in the United States in 1972, and later was appointed to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in July 1994. Throughout her career, she was faithfully committed to upholding the integrity of our courts. She worked to ensure the law met the needs of all people, particularly women and families, and was a voice for women’s equality throughout our judicial system. Among many of her leadership positions during her tenure, she served as President of the National Association of Women Judges from 1983 to 1984 – and she was a deeply invested mentor to many in the legal profession.
“The passing of our friend, Judge Kessler, is particularly close to the National Partnership for Women & Families. She was one of the co-founders, as well as the first president of the board of the Women’s Legal Defense Fund, which went on to become the National Partnership. She was a steadfast leader of our community, committed to gender equity throughout society. We are forever grateful for her vision, leadership, and commitment and we will continue to build on Judge Kessler’s legacy into the future. We offer our condolences and prayers to her loving friends and family in this difficult time.”
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