Abely Awards


The 2014 Abely Awards took place on Monday, September 22nd.

Co-hosted by Sanctuary for Families, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP and Columbia Law School, the Abely Awards salute dedicated individuals who have made a difference in the lives of victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking. 

Congratulations to our 2014 Honorees

The Abely Award for Leading Women and Children to Safety:

Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.
Manhattan District Attorney

The Abely Pro Bono Achievement Award:

Brenna K. DeVaney
Pro Bono Counsel, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

The 2013 Maryellen Abely Fellow:

Alexandra Swain
Second-Year Student, Columbia Law School

View photos from this year's event:


Click here to read highlights and view photos from past Abely Awards.

About the Abely Awards

The Abely Awards honor the memory of Maryellen Abely, an alumna of Columbia Law School, an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP and a pro bono attorney at Sanctuary for Families' Center for Battered Women's Legal Services.

Maryellen was a tireless advocate for the rights of victims of domestic abuse and one of the first pro bono attorneys at the Legal Center. After a long battle with cancer, she died in 1995. In remembering Maryellen, we celebrate the contributions of pro bono attorneys, law students, and legal assistants whose efforts enable Sanctuary to serve thousands of domestic violence victims each year.

The Abely Award for Leading Women and Children to Safety honors individuals who have made a difference in the lives of victims of domestic violence and who embody Maryellen Abely’s compassion, zeal, energy and dedication.


Previous recipients:

  • 2013: The Honorable Jonathan Lippman, Chief Judge of the State of New York
  • 2012: Sarah Buel, Faculty Director, Diane Halle Center for Family Justice, Clinical Professor of Law, Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
  • 2011: The Honorable Edwina Richardson-Mendelson, Administrative Judge for the Family Court of the City of New York
  • 2010: The Honorable Carolyn B. Maloney, United States Representative, New York's 14th District
  • 2009: Casey Gwinn, President, National Family Justice Center Alliance and Chief Executive Officer, YWCA of San Diego County
  • 2008: Teresa Columba Ulloa Ziáurriz, Regional Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Maestra María Guadalupe Morfín Otero, Special District Attorney for Violent Crimes Against Women for the Office of the Attorney General of Mexico
  • 2007: The Honorable Jack B. Weinstein, Senior Judge, United States District Court, Eastern District of New York
  • 2006: The Honorable Denny Chin, Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • 2005: The Honorable Betty Weinberg Ellerin, Senior Counsel, Alston & Bird LLP; retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, First Department
  • 2004: The Honorable Judy Harris Kluger, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge, Court Operations and Planning for the State of New York
  • 2003: The late Honorable Paul Wellstone, United States Senator, and the late Sheila Wellstone, expert on the problems of domestic violence (posthumously presented)
  • 2002: The Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg, United States Supreme Court Justice
  • 2001: The Honorable Sheldon Silver, New York State Assembly Speaker
  • 2000: The Honorable Charles E. Schumer, United States Senator
  • 1999: The Honorable Helene Weinstein, New York State Assemblywoman
  • 1998: The late Honorable Kathryn A. McDonald, former Administrative Judge of New York City Family Court, and Patricia Eng, founder and former Executive Director of the New York Asian Women’s Center
  • 1997: The Honorable Judith S. Kaye, Of Counsel, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP; retired Chief Judge of the State of New York

The Abely Pro Bono Achievement Award recognizes the contributions of extraordinarily dedicated attorneys who have consistently demonstrated professional commitment to improving the lives of Sanctuary’s clients.

Previous recipients:

  • 2013: Samidh Guha, Partner, Akin Gump
  • 2012: Harlene Katzman, Pro Bono Counsel and Director, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
  • 2011: Josephine Lea Iselin, Attorney Emeritus and Jill Crawley Griset and Matt Pearson, McGuireWoods LLP
  • 2010: Jill M. Zuccardy, Partner, Lansner Kubitschek Schaffer & Zuccardy
  • 2009: Hannah M. Pennington, Former Associate, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
  • 2008: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, accepted by Sharon Katz, Partner
  • 2007: Cynthia B. Rubin, Partner, Flemming Zulack Williamson Zauderer LLP
  • 2006: Claudia L. Hammerman and Robyn F. Tarnofsky, Partners, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
  • 2005: Mary Rothwell Davis, Volunteer Appellate Counsel, Sanctuary for Families’ Legal Center
  • 2004: Saralyn M. Cohen, Pro Bono Attorney and Coordinator, Shearman & Sterling LLP
  • 2003: Ellen Chapnick, Dean for Social Justice Initiatives, Columbia Law School
  • 2002: Nora von Stange, former Associate, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
  • 2001: Nancy L. Lazar, former Counsel, Davis Polk & Wardwell

The Maryellen Abely Fellowship is an annual summer internship at Sanctuary’s Legal Center for a Columbia Law School student committed to working with victims of domestic violence.

Previous recipients:

  • 2013: Rosie Wang
  • 2012: Alicia Lobeiras
  • 2011: Sayoni Maitra
  • 2010: Joy Ziegeweid
  • 2009: Frances Kelly
  • 2008: Mia Robertshaw
  • 2007: Emma Glazer
  • 2006: Carla Martinez
  • 2005: Anya Emerson
  • 2004: Yiwen Ouyang
  • 2003: Erin Dougherty
  • 2002: Alex Karam
  • 2001: Galen Sherwin
  • 2000: Anne E. Glatz
  • 1999: Rachel Wilgoren
  • 1998: Deborah L. Fine
  • 1997: Nihara Karim
  • 1996: Hilary Sunghee Seo

In 2005, a Special Leadership Award was given to Mary Ann Mailman in honor of her extraordinary contributions to Sanctuary for Families. Ms. Mailman is a past president of Sanctuary’s Board of Directors and a current member of Sanctuary’s President’s Council. She is a founder and active member of Sanctuary’s Legal Advisory Council, and served as co-chair until September 1, 2010.