Spring is here, and, after a very challenging year, it seems that we are almost on the other side of this pandemic. COVID-19 vaccines are more widely available, and many are choosing to take them as a step towards returning to a more normal life.
As we turn the corner, I feel a sense of accomplishment that my office remained open for business this entire time and continued to protect the community while fulfilling our mission. Where there were many obstacles, we saw tremendous opportunities to innovate and move forward.
Taking advantage of opportunities is key to success. I was able to expand upon this very point recently at the Women’s History Month Conference, “Year of the Woman: Exploring the Legal Landscape”, hosted by the Wilke D. Ferguson Bar Association. To view please click here.
I joined a distinguished panel that focused on the importance of mentorship. I recalled how my mentor, Janet Reno, always said “Women can do anything they really want to do if it’s the right thing to do.”
She gave me and the other women in the office opportunities that we might not otherwise have had, especially the opportunity to make tangible change and foster social renewal. For example, when I went to Janet and indicated that not enough was being done to help the victims of Domestic Violence, she simply said “Make a difference.” The result was Florida’s first prosecutorial unit devoted to domestic crimes.
I have carried her words and her example with me through my professional and personal life. Mentoring young women and giving them opportunities to succeed ultimately benefits our entire community.
Currently, 173 of the 305 Assistant State Attorneys in my office are women. This is a stark contrast to when I first started at the SAO and there were only a handful of women prosecutors. Some male colleagues told us that we wouldn’t be able to make the cut. Well, what is it that they say about having the last laugh? Mentoring has always been an opportunity to pass on what we have learned, yet it also gives us time to think of how far we’ve come, how much further we have to go, and to learn from those standing on our shoulders. I encourage you to be a mentor and support organizations that mentor young people. As a founding member of Women of Tomorrow and 5000 Role Models of Excellence, I can assure you that there is no more fulfilling a feeling than watching future generations flourish with our support. Stay healthy, safe and strong.
Katherine Fernandez Rundle
Miami-Dade State Attorney