NEW YORK – March is Women’s History Month and New York State Assembly Member Aravella Simotas was the featured speaker at an event sponsored by Fordham Law Women at the university’s Law School on March 5, Fordham Law News reported.
Assembly Member Simotas, the first woman elected to the Assembly from Queens’ 36th District, is an alumna of Fordham Law, Class of ’04.
Fordham Law School’s new assistant dean of student affairs and diversity, Kimathi Gordon-Somers, introduced Simotas, noting that he is “reminded every day that women in our society are leaders,” and that “the 2020 national Women’s History Month theme of honoring women who fought for women’s right to vote in the U.S.,” Fordham Law News reported.
Simotas spoke about her work on the passage in 2019 of New York’s new sexual harassment law, noting that “the law changed the standard for harassment from ‘the outdated severe or pervasive standard, which set an impossibly high bar for victims to meet’ and prevented employers from using non-disclosure agreements to keep employees from making complaints to government agencies, among other measures,” Fordham Law News reported.
Simotas was also “working on further legislation to help victims of sexual assault and harassment,” Fordham Law News reported, adding that “one series of bills is named for sexual abuse survivor Marissa Hoechstetter, ‘who testified about her experience being sexually abused by former OBGYN Robert Hadden throughout her pregnancy,’” Simotas said.
She added that working with Hoechstetter “has made our legislation so much more thoughtful and useful to those who endure such trauma,” Fordham Law News reported.
Simotas “told students in the audience to let their personal experiences inform their work,” Fordham Law News reported.
She continued, “As a woman and a first-generation professional, I understand how alienating the law school experience can be for people who come from less privileged backgrounds. I encourage you to bring your whole, authentic self into your work, because doing so will make this school and the legal profession stronger,” Fordham Law News reported.
Following her speech, Simotas answered questions from the audience of students and alumni.
The event was co-sponsored by the Black Law Students Association, Latin American Law Students Association, Asian-Pacific Law Students Association, Multicultural Law Students Association, Jewish Law Students Association, South Asian Law Students Association, OUTLaws, and Fordham First Generation Students, Fordham Law News reported.
According to the report in Fordham Law News, Fordham Law Women provides mentoring, coaching, and guidance to students and seeks to raise awareness of issues facing women and society. Kristine Rose Itliong, ‘20, president of Fordham Law Women, said, “Our hope is that such collaboration will raise awareness of intersectional issues and inspire women of various backgrounds to be leaders in the law,” Fordham Law News reported.