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We Are All in this Together: Highlighting the Role of Allies in the Push for Diversity

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 92 minutes
Recorded Date: October 27, 2020
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  • Opening Statements
  • Hypothetical
  • Being the First
  • Which Lives Matter
  • Identity
  • Recognizing Allies
  • Summary
Runtime: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Recorded: October 27, 2020


The Women in Criminal Justice Task Force has set out to identify challenges women criminal lawyers face in hiring, retention and promotion. In the past eighteen months, the Task Force held listening sessions with diverse women from all over the country. One of the consistent themes is the value of allyship.

Moderated by Task Force member Judge Bernice Donald (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit), the distinguished and diverse panel will share their own experiences with allyship, explain the importance of creating more seats at the table for traditionally ignored communities (particularly women of color), and propose some approaches to elevate those women into critical leadership roles.

This program was recorded on October 28th, 2020.

Provided By

American Bar Association
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Camelia M. Valdes

Passaic County Prosecutor's Office

Camelia M. Valdes is the Passaic County Prosecutor. When Ms. Valdes was appointed on May 16, 2009 by Governor Jon S. Corzine and confirmed by the New Jersey State Legislature, she became the first Latina county prosecutor in the State of New Jersey, the first woman prosecutor in Passaic County, and the first lead prosecutor of Dominican ancestry in the United States. Governor Chris Christie re-appointed Ms. Valdes to a second term on June 26, 2015. As the chief law enforcement official in Passaic County, Ms. Valdes is responsible for the management of approximately 185 assistant prosecutors, detectives, victim advocates and support staff, a $20 million office budget and the oversight of 16 municipal police departments, the police departments of William Paterson and Montclair State Universities and the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department.

Ms. Valdes is a career prosecutor. She served as a Municipal Prosecutor in the City of Newark, a Deputy Attorney General in the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, an Assistant Governor’s Counsel to Governor Christine Todd Whitman and Acting Governor Donald T. DiFrancesco, and as an Assistant United States Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark. Her experience has ranged from investigating and prosecuting municipal offenses to complex federal crimes that included human trafficking, health care fraud, financial offenses, and violent crimes.

Ms. Valdes is extensively involved in criminal law policy, bar associations, and community service work. The Hispanic National Bar Association named Ms. Valdes the 2016 Latina Lawyer of the Year.

Born to Dominican parents in the Bronx and raised in Newark, New Jersey, Ms. Valdes is a product of the Newark Public Schools. She received her undergraduate degree in sociology from Seton Hall University in 1993, her law degree from Rutgers Law School-Newark in 1996 and her LL.M. in Trial Advocacy from Temple University in May 2001. As the proud mother of two beautiful autistic girls, Isabela and Elsa, ages 14 and 12, Ms. Valdes endeavors to raise awareness about autism.

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Juval Scott

Adjunct Professor of Law
Washington & Lee School of Law

Juval Scott is the Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Virginia. She currently teaches Criminal Procedure: Adjudication at the Washington and Lee University School of Law as a member of the adjunct faculty.

As Federal Public Defender, Scott oversees a 23-person staff of attorneys and administrative staff across offices in Charlottesville, Roanoke, and Abingdon, Virginia. She is responsible for effective representation of clients accused and convicted of crimes, including death penalty litigation and appellate advocacy.

Scott worked previously as an Attorney Advisor with the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts in Washington, DC, where she managed national, regional, and local training programs for Criminal Justice Act attorneys and federal defender offices. She also served as an Assistant Federal Defender in Wisconsin and Indiana, representing over 600 indigent clients on a variety of Federal criminal offenses. Scott's extensive community involvement includes service on the Board of Regents for the National Criminal Defense College and membership in the both the Virginia and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

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Jannette Mondragon

Pegasus Legal Services for Children

Ms. Mondragón was born and raised in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the United States—El Segundo Barrio in El Paso, Texas. She is a first generation Mexican-American as well as a Native American—Chickasaw Nation. Ms. Mondragón’s childhood exposed to her to poverty, addiction, domestic violence, undiagnosed and untreated mental illness and the chaos that results from living in these types of environments. Despite the hurdles, she pursued her education and earned two degrees from New Mexico State University, a Bachelors of Arts in Criminal Justice and a Bachelors in Linguistics. Then, Ms. Mondragón worked as a conservatorship casework for CPS helping abused and neglected children in her community.

In 2017, she earned her Juris Doctorate and an Indian Law Certificate graduating early from the University of New Mexico School of Law. Ms. Mondragón graduated with Clinical Honors, was awarded the distinct Justice Pamela Minzner Professionalism and Ethics Award 2017, and received the Henry Kent Anderson Human Services Award 2018. She was also the Co-Editor-in-Chief for the Tribal Law Journal and the Vice President for the Native American Law Students Association and was a Student Ambassador.

Today, Ms. Mondragón works as an Assistant District Attorney working on serious felony cases that involve child victims. Additionally, she serves as a Board Director for the New Mexico State Bar Indian Law Section, serves as an YLD Attorney Mentor, and also serves as a Bar Coach for the American Indian Law Center. Ms. Mondragón is a mother of two teenage boys and a spouse to a veteran who after six wartime deployments returned with a debilitating spinal cord injury.

Ms. Mondragón is excited to join the Pegasus Board of Directors and hopes to make great contributions to help and protect the youth in our community, specifically children from Native American communities.

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Hon. Victoria S. Kolakowski

Alameda County Superior Court

Victoria Kolakowski is a judge for the Alameda County Superior Court of California. She was elected to the bench in 2010.

As a law student, Judge Kolakowski had clerkships with three law firms in Louisiana and went on to open a solo practice, where she specialized in the representation of members of the LGBTQ community. A year later, she became a patent associate at McCubbrey, Bartels, Meyers, and Ward, where she practiced for several years, leaving in 1993. While there, Judge Kolakoski practiced patent litigation with specificity in the electrical and mechanical arts. She has a deep and wide educational background, which she brought to her work in patent litigation, along with extensive experience in that field, having worked briefly as a patent attorney at Ampex Data Systems Corporation and then at Telgen Corporation, where she served as general counsel and the Chief Administrative Officer from 2000 to 2002. Two more stints in solo practice would round out her time in the private sector.

Judge Kolakowski then worked as a utilities engineer and regulatory analyst with the California Public Utilities Commission, and also served as assistant chief counsel for the California Electricity Oversight Board, moving on to become an Administrative Law Judge for the state in 2006. In that role, she presided over quasi-judicial hearings for both the California Department of Insurance and the California Public Utilities Commission. She would remain in that role until winning the election to the Superior Court in 2010.

Judge Kolakowski co-authored a public domestic partnership ordinance for the city of Berkeley and was invited by the U.S. State Department to travel through India to address issues pertaining to LGBTQ law and policy.

Judge Kolakowski has served on the board of directors at the Transgender Law Center and has been a member of the Judicial Council of California’s Advisory Committee on Providing Access and Fairness. She was also President of the International Association of LGBT Judges.

Judge Kolalowski graduated from Louisiana State University’s Paul M. Herbet Law Center, but, as mentioned above, her educational background is indeed deep and wide. She began her studies at New College of Florida, where she received a B.A. in natural sciences. She then attended Tulane University, where she obtained an M.S. in Biomedical Engineering, and she graduated from Louisiana State University with an M.P.A. in Public Administration along with her law degree. The following year she received and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of New Orleans. She culminated her academic achievements with an M.Div. in Biblical Studies from the Pacific School of Religion.

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Hon. Bernice B. Donald

Circuit Judge
US Court of Appeals, Western District of Tennessee

Bernice Bouie Donald is a federal judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. She first joined the court in 2011 after a nomination from President Barack Obama. Prior to her service on the Sixth Circuit, she served on the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.

Donald graduated from Memphis State University with both her bachelor's and J.D. degrees in 1974 and 1979, respectively.

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