Gertner was appointed to the federal bench of the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts by President Bill Clinton in 1994. She retired from the bench in 2011 and now is a professor of practice at Harvard Law School, a position given to outstanding individuals whose teaching is informed by extensive expertise in law practice, the judiciary, policy and governance. She also taught at the Yale Law School while a judge.
Named one of “The Most Influential Lawyers of the Past 25 Years” by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, Judge Gertner has written and spoken throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia. She has published widely on sentencing, discrimination, and forensic evidence; women’s rights; and the jury system. Her autobiography, In Defense of Women: Memoirs of an Unrepentant Advocate, was published in 2011.
She is a graduate of Barnard College, Columbia University, and holds an M.A. and J.D. from Yale University. She has received numerous awards, including the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Hennessey Award for judicial excellence in 2011; the Morton A. Brody Distinguished Judicial Service Award from Colby College in 2010; the National Association of Women Lawyers’ highest honor, the Arabella Babb Mansfield Award, in 2011, and, in 2008, the Thurgood Marshall Award from the American Bar Association, Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, which recognized her contributions to advancing human rights and civil liberties.
Her other awards include: the Judicial Excellence Award, Federal Bar Association, 2008; Charles P. Kindregan Award, Suffolk University Law School, 2007; a Judicial Excellence citation from the Boston Bar Association, 2006; and the Judge Toomey Judicial Excellence Award, 2005.
Adding to the list, Gertner will receive an honorary degree at Commencement, as will two of Wheaton’s distinguished alumnae, Patricia Flaherty ’83, senior project manager for Mission Hill Neighborhood Housing Services, a community-based nonprofit housing and economic development organization, and Diane Leshefsky Troderman ’63, a noted philanthropist in education and Jewish culture.
Flaherty is a community activist and organizer, who personally advocates for community development that benefits low-income families in the Mission Hill neighborhood of Boston. She also serves on the community advisory board of Boston Children’s Hospital. In 2012, she received the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women Unsung Heroine Award.And, in 2010, she received the Boston Neighborhood Fellows Award from the Philanthropic Initiative.
Troderman, who has an M.B.A. from American International College, served on the President’s Commission at Wheaton from 1990–2002 and was a class fund agent in 2012. She has held numerous leadership roles in the Jewish community on local, national and international levels. In addition to her passionate interest in Jewish education, she has worked actively on women’s issues and in the renaissance and renewal of Jewish life throughout the world, especially in the former Soviet Union.
Among her local philanthropic interests is the development of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, an organization that helps women meet their educational and business goals. Additionally, she was the first chair of the International Research Institute on Jewish Women (now known as the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute), whose mission it is to develop fresh ways of thinking about Jews and gender worldwide. She also is on the leadership council of Harvard Divinity School’s Women’s Studies in Religion program.