AAUW To Host Speaker

An event that celebrates the accomplishments of a woman who excelled in her field of choice will be held Tuesday to inspire the youth of Chautauqua County.

The Jamestown Branch of the American Association of University Women will host an event featuring Judge Paula J. Feroleto, who will speak about her experience of breaking into a male-dominated field. The program, “Breaking Into a Man’s World,” will be held at the Robert H. Jackson Center on Tuesday at 7 p.m. A question-and-answer session will follow the speech. It is free and open to the public.

According to Candy Johnson, vice president of the Jamestown AAUW branch, the event is not held to be confrontational, but rather to encourage women and young girls in the area to excel in their fields.

“We want to show them no matter what, they can succeed in whatever chosen field that they want to go into,” said Johnson. “Even though it may seem that sometimes they have to work a little harder, that it’s worth it. So, we like to present role models to women and young girls in our area to show them that success can be theirs.”

Johnson has known Feroleto for quite some time because she has a legal background herself. Feroleto has always been someone who Johnson has looked up to because of her position and the things that she has accomplished in her life.

“She is very much what I would call a ‘go-getter,’ and has never been one to sit back and rest on her laurels,” said Johnson. “She is always looking for ways to make things better for the public and the people in her jurisdictional areas. She is a very intelligent woman and intuitive as to what the various needs are – I admire her a great deal.”

Although there have been a number of women justices throughout history, Johnson still considers the field male-dominated. That’s why Johnson felt that Feroleto would be the perfect speaker for the upcoming event.

“For her make her way up through the ranks as she did is quite an accomplishment – and we’re proud to have her come to speak to our group,” said Johnson. “We want to share the judge’s story and her accomplishments to encourage the youth and especially young women to see that if you work hard you can be successful.”

Feroleto was elected to the New York State Supreme Court in 2004. In 2009, she was appointed to the position of administrative judge for the Eighth Judicial District, which encompasses the eight counties of Western New York. The position’s oversight includes 11 city courts, and county, supreme, surrogates, and family courts in each county. Feroleto is a graduate of Georgetown University, and earned her J.D. at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

“I don’t really think of myself as breaking into a man’s world, although I was the first woman partner at the law firm where I worked for over 20 years. I might add that the first job I was offered after law school was as a legal secretary and not an attorney – if you can imagine.” Feroleto said in an interview with Johnson. “My mother was a doctor – she graduated from medical school in 1955. My friends in grammar school insisted she must be a nurse and not a doctor. With her as a model I never thought there was an obstacle to my being anything I wanted to be.”

Feroleto lives in Buffalo with her husband, John. They have three adult children: John, Joel and Kathleen. She has been a member of St. Rose of Lima Parish since 1980 and has served on the school board and the board of trustees.

AAUW has been empowering women since 1881. Membership is open to anyone with a two year degree or higher. Those who attend Tuesday’s event can sign up for AAUW membership for the half-price reduced fee of $45.50, which will remain active until June 30, 2014.

For more information visit jamestown.aauw-nys.org or www.aauw.org.