University of Wisconsin–Madison

Attorney Judith Lichtman to be Convocation Keynote Speaker

Law School alumna Judith L. Lichtman, President of the National Partnership for Women & Families, will give the keynote speech at the Law School's Convocation on Wednesday, August 28, 2002 at 3 p.m. in Memorial Union Theater. She will address the incoming Class of 2005. Lichtman is a 1965 graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School. She has been a guiding and influential force in the women's movement for more than 25 years. As president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, she has displayed a commitment, vision, and talent as an attorney and advocate that have made a profound difference for women and families across the United States. In an article on the Partnerships Web site (, Lichtman recalls that she went to law school because "being a lawyer meant having a license to be an activist." After receiving her UW law degree in 1965, she worked at the Urban Coalition, at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and as legal advisor to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. In 1974, she became the executive director and first paid staff person for the Women's Legal Defense Fund (WLDF), which became the National Partnership for Women & Families in February 1998. Under Lichtman's leadership, the National Partnership has been at the forefront of every major piece of legislation related to women and families for the past 25 years. Founded as a small volunteer group, the National Partnership has grown to a national organization with thousands of members and has become one of the country's most influential political forces, shaping national policy through its advocacy, lobbying, litigation, and public education. Lichtman's vision and the National Partnership's strength have resulted in the passage of some of the most important legal protections for American women and families, including the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993. In 1996, the National Partnership helped shape key provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that make it easier for women and their families to get and keep health coverage. More recently, Lichtman has served as the "leading voice" for themore than 185 health care and consumer organizations supporting passage of the Patients' Bill of Rights Act (PBRA). Introduced into Congress in 1998 and reintroduced in 1999, the PBRA is a comprehensive health care reform proposal that would require health plans to provide quality care. Lichtman has been recognized by civic and legal organizations, business and labor leaders, and others for her strategic abilities, political savvy, effectiveness in creating powerful and diverse coalitions, and a tireless commitment to building a truly just society. President Bill Clinton called Lichtman "a remarkable national treasure," and Washingtonian magazine has identified her as one of Washington, DC's most powerful women. Says Lichtman, "For more than 25 years, I've tried to make this world a better place for women and families. We've come a long way, but our work is far from done. My daughters, and all our children, deserve a future where every school and workplace is truly free of discrimination, and where all families have the support they need to succeed at home and on the job. I know from experience ? if we can imagine it, we can make it happen."

Submitted by on August 16, 2002

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