In celebration of International Women’s Day, the Harvard Law and International Development Society and the Harvard Women’s Law Association honored 50 women in their International Women’s Portrait Exhibit.
More than a dozen of the honorees attended a luncheon as part of the event, on Tuesday, March 10.
Four of the honorees addressed the packed room, including Valerie Biden Owens, executive vice president of Joe Slade White & Co. She was accompanied by several members of her family, including Vice President Joe Biden, who paid a surprise visit to the law school to see his sister honored.
Owen’s brother, Jim Biden, also attended, along with Owen’s husband, two daughters, and Joe Biden’s daughter, Ashley. Owens said that “confidence is the number-one prerequisite for success in life,” and she encouraged each woman in the room to become a “confidence giver” to a younger woman or girl. “I humbly suggest we become the wind and lift and carry one another,” she said.
Nancy Lieberman, partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, spoke about the difficulties encountered by the trailblazing women who first broke the glass ceiling at large law firms. Lieberman is also director of the New York State Spinal Cord Injury Review Board, and director of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice.
Ann Burroughs, board chair of Amnesty International USA, spoke about her international human rights advocacy work and recalled her imprisonment in her native South Africa for her activism.
The last speaker was Margaret Montoya `78, emerita professor at the University of New Mexico. She noted the strides in diversity that have been made, and how students and society are the beneficiaries of that. Before she started her remarks, Montoya thanked the people who had arrived early to set up and would stay late to clean up long after everyone else had left.
As the event concluded, speakers and organizers gathered for photos, many with the vice president. Like many others, Montoya was photographed with Biden. However, she also made a point to have her picture taken with a crew from the law school’s Facilities Maintenance Operations.
The 2nd Annual Harvard Law School International Women’s Day Portrait Exhibit will be on display in Wasserstein Hall through March 14. The gallery of honorees is also online.