Karen DeSoto is a woman to admire. No, she is not a reality celebrity, a model or a movie star, dispite her good looks. She is a professional woman: a lawyer, TV legal analyst, and university professor — any young girl can learn from her regardless of what field of endeavor they pursue.
I stumbled onto a post on Facebook about an award that some students in New Jersey had won at a competition in Vienna Austria this spring. The students were in Vienna representing NJCU (New Jersey City University), School of Business Institute for Dispute Resolution.
Further down the rabbit hole I discovered that the co-founders of the Institute were professor Karen DeSoto, esq, and NJCU visiting scholar David Weiss, esq.
So I called Karen DeSoto for an interview about the competition and the Institute. Afterwards I was intrigued, so I did some research on Ms. DeSoto as well, and I was impressed with what I discovered.
Ms. DeSoto attended the Beasley School of Law at Temple University; where she obtained a Juris Doctorate and a Masters of Law in Trial Advocacy. Following graduation she went on to serve as a public defender and then prosecutor before entering the private sector.
By 2000 she established the Center for Legal Justice, a law firm that focused on civil rights, employment discrimination, and election law. In 2001 she broke the glass ceiling by becoming the first woman, first Hispanic and the youngest person to ever be appointed Corporate Counsel for the city of Jersey City, where to managed a large staff that advised nine city departments. She was appointed by then Mayor Glenn D. Cunningham, who also serves on the city counsel, and went on to serve as a senator until his death in 2004. As a Cunningham supporter Ms. DeSoto had to battle his political adversaries, losing her position in the city administration. But this never slowed her down.
During a decade and a half Karen DeSoto had been and remains very involved in her community, working Pro Bono for civil rights cases, serving on the Boards of many non-profit organizations — like Head Start of Jersey City, the Ray of Hope Foundation and others. And she has and continues to be recognized for her efforts: she was named Humanitarian of the Year by the Bayonne youth Center, Attorney of the Year by the Heritage Foundation, honored by the NAACP, and honored by the Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine.
By 2012, again back in private practice, the Huson Reporter named Ms. DeSoto to their list of most influential people in Hudson County. In an article entitled “They Have The Power,” they wrote:
“Karen DeSoto has become one of the leading forces in Hudson County for civil rights, often taking cases that highlight racial issues in the county. Most recently, she was instrumental in bringing together civil rights activists to deal with questions in the Jersey City/Bayonne area of the county. By partnering with other civil rights leaders in and out of Hudson County, she has become a force to be reckoned with.”
Since 2000 she has also served an ‘on-air’ television personality as a legal analyst for CNN, ABC News, Fox News, Court TV, MSNBC, The TODAY Show, and NBC News.
In that role she appears on these shows to discuss the legal complexities and legal strategies regarding high-profile court trials in the news. These include, but are not limited to, Bill Cosby, the death of Michael Jackson, the George Zimmerman trail, Robert Durst trial, Aaron Hernandez trial, and the Boston Marathon Bombing, plus many others. You can view these and other segments on her YouTube channel.
Young girls that confront bias in the workplace and higher education in India and elsewhere should be motivated by the success that Karen DeSoto has forged in breaking through the glass ceilings that confront young women worldwide.
With Hillary Clinton the first women to be nominated to lead a major political party as their candidate for the 2106 presidential election in the United States, she shows that persistence, belief in oneself, and brainpower can empower women to higher success.
We salute these and other women that dare to dream big and achieve their goals. if you dream it, you can achieve it. So, what are your goals? We like to know. If you have an inspiring story, or know of one, contact us.
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