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Wojtaszek-Gariano is Woman of the Year

by jmaloni
Tue, Mar 22nd 2011 03:10 pm

Federation of Republican Women laud former judge

The Niagara County Federation of Republican Women will honor former Judge Kathleen Wojtaszek-Gariano as the organization's 2011 Woman of the Year on Saturday, the federation announced Tuesday.

Wojtaszek-Gariano will be named Woman of the Year because "she's a positive role model for women throughout this county, and someone we expect to see do more great things in her already lengthy law career," federation spokeswoman Pat Castillo said. Wojtaszek-Gariano will be presented with her award Saturday at noon at the Crowne Plaza, 300 Third St., Niagara Falls.

Also being honored are Lockport Common Council President Richelle Pasceri, who will receive the organization's Leadership Award; North Tonawanda Common Council President Catherine G. Schwandt; and former Lockport Deputy Supervisor Deborah Gaskill. Each will be named Women of Distinction.

"Today, more than ever, we see women who are role models in the business world, the political world, and, in Judge Wojtaszek-Gariano's case, the world of law," Castillo noted. "Kathleen Wojtaszek-Gariano has been everything, from an attorney in private practice, to a city court judge and acting family court judge, to law clerk for Judge David Seamen."

Wojtaszek-Gariano has spent the past decade as Seaman's law clerk, a role where she provides everything from legal research to opinions and a sounding board for the experienced jurist, who is set to retire this year. She served as Niagara Falls City Court judge prior to that, and was elevated to acting Niagara County Family Court judge by the Eight Judicial District in 2001. Wojtaszek-Gariano's career on the bench and as law clerk followed several years in private practice, where she handled matrimonial and family court matters.

"Those of us from Niagara Falls remember Judge Wojtaszek-Gariano as a firm, but caring, judge, who put public safety first," Castillo said. "Judge Wojtaszek-Gariano genuinely cared about the victims of violent crime and property crimes. But she also always kept an eye on the outcomes for those she sentenced, as well. The Niagara County Federation of Republican Women considers her a model jurist, and a real role model for women who've decided to make law their career."

Castillo also noted that the federation was impressed by Wojtaszek-Gariano's commitment to improving the lives of people caught up in family court, something that's been a major hallmark of her time as law clerk. The federation also praised Wojtaszek-Gariano for serving on the boards of directors of Community Missions of Niagara Frontier Inc. and the Health Association of Niagara County Inc., two not-for-profits that help county residents and the disadvantaged.

"What we admired most of all about Judge Wojtaszek-Gariano is her belief that the courts can make a positive difference in people's lives," Castillo said. "She's helped a lot of people navigate a very difficult place as family court clerk, and she's helped them recover their lives. That's the kind of leadership and compassion we look for in our Woman of the Year."  

Tickets to the Federation of Republican Women's fifth annual Woman of the Year Luncheon are still available for $25 each. For more information or to reserve a seat, call Mary Jo Tamburlin at 523-8250.

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