Susan Greenwald: Partners for Women and Justice Benefit

From left: Laurie Peter, Betsy Bernard and Marsha Papanek

Partners for Women and Justice hosted its ninth annual spring benefit to celebrate hope and raise funds for free legal assistance for low-income and abused women on May 9 at The Westin Governor Morris in Morristown.

Betsy Bernard and Laurie Peter were honored at this year’s event with the Partners in Hope Award for their committed efforts to fight for equality and justice in both the corporate arena and the nonprofit world. Marsha Papanek, Esq. received the Partners in Justice Award for the huge contributions she has made as a lawyer and an advocate for women and children who are victims of violence.

Betsy Bernard is an accomplished CEO, experienced public company board director and popular speaker. As the first woman President of AT&T, she led more than 50,000 employees in a $27 billion business. For three consecutive years, Betsy appeared on Fortune Magazine’s list of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Business”. She currently serves on several corporate boards. During Bernard’s career she has always promoted policies that support equality. Noticing the rarity of women and ethnic minorities in executive positions in her industry, she worked tirelessly to enhance the chances of advancement for people she believed had been subject to discrimination.

Laurie Peter has devoted herself to the nonprofit world and serving the public good. She started her career working on the “front lines” providing services as a clinical social worker in various medical and mental healthcare settings. She became an expert in clinical assessments and case management for patients and families in medical crisis. Laurie’s impact more recently has been in the board room. She has been an active Trustee of Jersey Battered Women’s Services and also served as trustee of the National AIDS Fund, holding various leadership positions.

Marsha Papanek has spent her legal career advocating for victims of violence. As a New York City prosecutor for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office she handled and supervised complex investigations and prosecutions of homicides and major felonies. Papanek later worked in the NJ Appellate Section of the Public Defender’s office and as an adjunct professor at Seton Hall Law School. Since 2005 Papanek has led the legal team at Partners for Women and Justice. Under her watch, Partners has helped thousands of women and children who are victims of abuse while growing Partners’ Pro Bono Legal Representation Program to over 150 attorneys.

This year’s benefit was sponsored in part by McCarter & English, LLP; Gibbons P.C.; Lauren Handler, Esq. and David Kott, Esq.; Tracy Higgins and James Leitner; Logan & Company, Inc.; Lowenstein Sandler PC; Principal Financial Group; RBC Wealth Management, Karen and Ken Rosen; UBS Financial Services and Wells Fargo Securities.

Partners for Women and Justice is a 501(c)(3) organization that provides free legal help to needy battered women and their children in domestic violence and family law matters. Since its founding in 2003, Partners has helped thousands of women and their children secure orders of protection, child support awards and safe visitation and custody arrangements.

Partners’ programs provide technical and procedural advice, counsel and legal advice, pro bono legal representation and referrals. As importantly, they empower women to assert control over their own lives and take steps to protect themselves and their children.

For more information about Partners for Women and Justice, call 973-233-0111, email or visit

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