Fox Rothschild and CDI Host Reception Honoring 2016 Women of Courage Award RecipientsApril 7, 2016 – Press Releases
Fox Rothschild LLP Partners Elizabeth G. Litten and Lauren P. McKenna, in conjunction with Citizen Diplomacy International of Philadelphia (CDI), recently hosted a reception honoring the 2016 Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award winners from Belize and Guatemala.
Established in 2007 by the U.S. Department of State, the annual International Women of Courage Award honors women around the globe who have exemplified exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for human rights, women’s equality and social progress, often at great personal risk.
Debra Baptist-Estrada, Port Commander of Belize’s sole international airport, and Thelma Aldana, Attorney General of Guatemala, attended the event at Fox’s Philadelphia office and were among this year’s recipients who were recognized by the State Department for their courageous leadership and reverence for justice.
CDI, a “citizen diplomacy” network of 95 Councils in 48 states that receives established and emerging leaders visiting the United States, frequently partners with Fox to honor and host women from around the world. Litten serves on the CDI board of directors, and McKenna is co-chair of the Women’s Initiative at Fox. Prince Thomas, co-chair of Fox’s Diversity Committee also attended the event.
In an institution largely dominated by men, 20-year Belize Department of Immigration veteran Debra Baptist-Estrada has consistently refused bribes and other incentives to look the other way. As Port Commander of Belize’s only international airport, Estrada worked with U.S. officials last spring to crack open a drug and human smuggling operation to the U.S. and Europe. After being transferred to Belize’s northern border this summer, Estrada continued to bring her incorruptible style to the job, enforcing immigration laws that had not been enforced for a very long time, and rejecting bribes to look the other way. While many might shrug off corruption as “the human condition,” Estrada is quietly and courageously effecting change and strengthening the rule of law.
Thelma Aldana is the Attorney General of Guatemala. Aldana began her career as a janitor in a local family court, while studying for a law degree at night. She quickly rose through the ranks to become Magistrate of the Supreme Court of Justice, where as the sole woman justice, she convinced her colleagues to create 33 specialized courts for crimes of femicide and other forms of violence against women. Nearly two years ago, after taking office as Attorney General, Ms. Aldana fearlessly prosecuted criminals and politicians that had previously been considered untouchable, including bringing corruption charges against the president who appointed her and his vice-president. In holding high office holders accountable, and promoting reforms to make the legal system more accessible to average citizens, she is truly working to bring justice to all Guatemalans.