Legal Momentum News Brief, June 2013

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June 30, 2013

Legal Momentum Reports on Harmful New SNAP Legislation

Legal Momentum has a new report describing how the Republican budget plan recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives would hurt the already impoverished families enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the food stamp program)—leaving them with less to spend on food.  The plan would cut SNAP by $136 billion (almost 18% over ten years).  SNAP now aids many more needy families and children than the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program (TANF) does, as Legal Momentum has reported previously.  Applying “welfare reform” to the SNAP would likely lead to far fewer eligible people receiving SNAP benefits.

The effect of the potential SNAP budget cuts on children is particularly troublesome. The Academic Pediatric Association (APA) recently formed a task force on childhood poverty, and issued "A Strategic Road-Map" for addressing childhood poverty.  The Road-Map describes childhood poverty as the "most important problem facing children in the United States today.”  The Road-Map also calls for improving and strengthening access to TANF as a vital policy initiative.

Women’s Equality in the Workplace

Legal Momentum’s Senior Staff Attorney Michelle Caiola and five of our summer interns traveled to Albany, NY, on June 4 to represent Legal Momentum at a NY Women’s Equality Agenda Coalition rally.  Women’s rights organizations in the Coalition marched in support of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 10-Point Plan for Women’s Equality.  More information on the rally can be found here.

Michelle was also recently quoted in an article from Everyday Feminism on sexual harassment at work.  In the article, Michelle discussed the legalities of actions taken against people who have complained about harassment.

Later in June, Michelle will be participating in a domestic violence panel and training session hosted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  

Career and Technical Education School Success

The New York City Department of Education publication CTE (Career and Technical Education) Spotlight has a featured article and photograph about student electricians from Queens Vocational High School helping to rebuild homes after Hurricane Sandy.  Queens Vocational is one of the first schools Legal Momentum’s Pipeline Program improved recruitment of girls.  We are very proud to see so many female student electricians participating in the rebuilding project.

The importance of our work in recruiting and supporting girls in CTE was recognizedrecently.  Legal Momentum’s Equality Works Program Manager, Françoise Jacobsohn, was invited to speak at the National Technical Honor Society (NTHS) induction ceremony at Thomas A. Edison CTE High School.  A good portion of the 40 new student members were females. 

In her remarks, Françoise spoke of how young women and men benefit overall by working together in CTE schools.  She also explained how women’s inclusion in high-wage, high-demand non-traditional jobs benefits the economy and the workplace.  The feedback was very positive for both the ceremony and Françoise’s presentation.  The teachers told her the talk was inspiring for the female students, particularly because of her strong encouragement for them to continue building their careers.

Continuing to Educate the Legal System on Sexual Assault

On May 16th, Lynn Hecht Schafran, presented at the Philadelphia Municipal Court Judges Conference on The Challenges of Sexual Assault Cases, based on our publication Judges Tell: What I Wish I Had Known Before I Presided in An Adult Victim Sexual Assault Case.

Lynn also lent her expertise to the American Law Institute (ALI) in May.  The ALI describes itself as "the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and otherwise improve the law. The Institute (made up of 4000 lawyers, judges, and law professors of the highest qualifications) drafts, discusses, revises, and publishes Restatements of the Law, model statutes, and principles of law that are enormously influential in the courts and legislatures, as well as in legal scholarship and education."  The ALI recently began a revision of the Model Penal Code's provisions on sex offenses.  Lynn attended the ALI's annual meeting at which the revision was discussed, as an ALI member and as a member of the consultative group on the revision. 

Legal Momentum has another Spectacular Aiming High Event

Over six hundred guests joined us at our annual Aiming High Awards Luncheon earlier in May, to salute the accomplishments of five extraordinary and inspiring women.

Our 2013 Aiming High honorees are: Elizabeth Beshel Robinson (Global Treasurer of Goldman Sachs), Suni Harford (Regional Head of Markets, North American, Citigroup, Inc.), Ivy Thomas McKinney (Corporate Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Chief Ethics Officer, Xerox), Maliz Beams (Chief Executive Officer of Retirement Solutions, ING U.S.), and Kelly Tullier, Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel (PepsiCo).

Many thanks to our presenters and Aiming High alumni Esta Stecher (Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs Bank USA), Deborah Doyle McWhinney (President and Chief Operating Officer of Global Enterprise Payments for Citi), Stephanie Mudick (Head of Corporate Responsibility for JPMorgan Chase & Co.), Bridget Healy (Chief Legal Officer for ING U.S.) and Sara Moss (Executive Vice President and General Counsel ofThe Estée Lauder Companies).

Videos from the event, featuring our honorees speaking movingly about what “aiming high” meant to them, are here.  Photos from the event may be seen here.

Legal Momentum Welcomes New Personnel

Legal Momentum is pleased to announce two new additions to our staff: N. Linsey Tully as Director of Development, and Jelena Kolic as Staff Attorney. 

Linsey is a development professional with a distinguished history in business and not-for-profit activities.  For the last ten years, Linsey has worked in several high-level financial and development positions for organizations, including the National Institute for Reproductive Health, First Republic Bank/ Bank of America, Circle Financial Group, and GlobalGiving.  She was also Development Officer for EMILY's List, the nation's largest grassroots political network.  Linsey already has a connection to Legal Momentum--her mother, Mary Jean Tully, was President of Legal Momentum from 1974 - 1977, and obtained funding for the first time from major corporations and foundations.

Jelena Kolic holds a B.A. in English and Political Science from Cardinal Stritch University and a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School.  Prior to joining Legal Momentum, Jelena was a Legal Fellow with the Immigration Intervention Project at Sanctuary for Families.

***News Stories from Around the Nation***

Sexual Violence/Military: Several recent stories have continued the focus on sexual assault in the military, including:

            --Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) proposals to change how the military handles assault cases, from The Takeaway.

            --A summation of the problems within military culture that hamper sexual assault investigations, from The Atlantic.

--A military sexual assault survivor who says assaults should be treated like a national security issue, from MSNBC.

--A story on how female veterans are facing homelessness, sometimes compounded by other struggles including PTSD and military sexual assault trauma, from WNYC.

Sexual Violence/College: The military isn’t the only area under intense scrutiny for possible mishandling of sexual assault cases.  Several lawsuits have recently been filed under Title IX, in which the student plaintiffs claim that some colleges’ policies and procedures in investigating or reporting sexual assault cases violate federal law.  This story was reported in Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

            --And Yale University has been fined $165,000 for misreporting sexual offenses that occurred over a decade ago, according to Inside Higher Ed.

Gender Equity: The Fire Department of New York City has a graduating class of 285 probationary firefighters.  Five of those new firefighters are women.  According to this CBS New York story, the number of women is the most "in a probationary firefighter class in more than 30 years."  

Working Mothers: The Hill reports that Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) has introduced the Supporting Working Moms Act, which would expand upon an existing federal law to provide nursing mothers with a break time and private place to breastfeed their children.  The law currently covers hourly workers, and the expansion would cover salaried workers.

Poverty: The Brookings Institution says more suburban residents live in poverty than city residents, and suburbs are the fastest-growing population in poverty.

Pregnancy Discrimination: This ACLU blog piece discusses how pregnant workers are still having challenges in being allowed accommodations on the job, and why the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is needed.

Gender Equity:  From Feministing, an infographic about the gender breakdown of the current Congress, showing the gender disparity that still remains.