In this issue, W2W pays tribute to their many accomplishments and celebrates the influence they have had on so many fellow females. The Honorable Judge Betty, as referred to by colleagues, died in January at age 83. She was the first woman in Berks County elected to the Berks County Court of Common Pleas, and once elected Judge was the first Administrative Judge on the newly established Family Court Division of the Berks County Court. She was nominated to be the first female member of the Endlich Law Club, a private club of 50 Berks lawyers. Mary Ann passed away last July at age 79. She was the first woman elected president of the Reading School Board and the first woman to receive the Eugene Shirk Community Builder Award, which was created in memory of the former Mayor to celebrate individuals who demonstrated Shirk’s spirit and qualities of civility, humor, honor, leadership and commitment to the well-being of others and involvement in our community. Most people remember Mary Ann as the marketing and public relations guru for Boscov’s Department Stores, and eventually one of only two women who held the vice president title of the infamous retail chain. But what these two women will forever be remembered for are not their ‘firsts’ but more importantly for paving a healthy path for children and women, and for making our community a better place to live. “They were professional stars and trailblazers, making their marks and being the “first woman” to do just about everything locally,” said Julia Klein, Chairwoman and CEO of C.H. Briggs Co. “Mary Ann was always full of ideas and projects – she was an unstoppable force in everything she did. Betty was a brilliant judge, filled with intellectual curiosity and an unshakable sense of justice. Both were (very!) tough-minded, insistent upon making their voices heard and their efforts really matter, and lots and lots of fun to be around.” Attorneys who presided before her in family and juvenile court considered Judge Ehrlich compassionate but a stickler to those who tried to weasel out of paying child support. She was instrumental in developing an adoption program for Berks County Children and Youth Services. “It was a joy to be in her courtroom on the days she was dealing with child support enforcement,” said Susan Denaro, shareholder of the Wyomissing law firm of Rabenold Koestel Goodman and Denaro. “Often the defendants would appear before her in handcuffs, having been brought in on an arrest warrant for non-support. She was so sharp she knew who was trying to con her and she was never shy about facing off with them. On one particularly busy day, she busted a guy who lied about not being able to speak English, had the bailiff pull up the pants of a young delinquent who had his trousers hanging so far down most of his rear end and underwear
was showing, and challenged a guy about how he could afford brand new Michael Jordan sneakers and a cell phone while his kids were going without support. The courtroom was always silent when she was on a tear and often the defendants somehow came up with money to get released from custody despite their protests that they had none.”
In awe of Judge Betty and Mary Ann’s accomplishments (and knowing full well they were no more immune to challenges than the rest of us) this author sought to reveal what propelled them to the spotlight; what set them apart as leaders? What follows are traits and observations derived from conversations and writings from people who knew these woman well: • A vision and the will to carry it out. • No time for drama. Stick to business. • Communicates effectively. • Able to see the big picture. • Keeps others accountable. • Solid in conviction and principle. • Did not get held down by the opinions or opposition of others. • Did what they could at the moment and moved on until another moment for opportunity to change came. • Did not let the fear of failure stop them from proceeding. • Sense of humor.
Both Women Sought To Educate & Advocate. Judge Ehrlich served on the board of directors of The Reading Hospital and Medical Center, The Highlands at Wyomissing, The Children’s Home of Reading, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Berks County, United Way of Berks County, and the Berks County Intermediate Unit, to mention a few. She received the Colby Townsend Memorial Prize for legal research while a student at Yale Law School…and was one of four females in a graduating class of 200. She also served on the Ethics Committee of the Pennsylvania Conference of Trial Judges, as a lecturer for the Pennsylvania Domestic Relations Association meetContinued on page 18
Published on Apr 21, 2014