February 28, 2021

York County Bar Foundation

Virtual Law Day Event

The impact of COVID-19 caused the cancellation of events around the world and across the country, and the York County Bar Foundation’s annual Law Day luncheon was no exception. However, having secured a keynote speaker whose presentation perfectly aligned with the ABA Theme “Your Vote, Your Voice, Our Democracy: The 19th Amendment at 100” as well as the selection of a retired journalist and editor of a local newspaper and regional editor for the USA Today Network in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland as this year’s Liberty Bell Award recipient, the Committee opted to “press the pause button” and regroup.

During a zoom meeting to determine the fate of the event, CEO Victoria Connor guided the Committee through the opportunity to transform the luncheon into a virtual event using the typical event program but flipping it upside down and incorporating several dynamic elements. The Committee was skeptical but agreed to try it. Pending confirmation of the willingness and availability of the various individuals with key roles to participate, they selected the date of June 15 due to its proximity to Flag Day. Connor was tasked with lining up the moving parts and creating the script.

First, she confirmed that the newspaper company would create a short video about the Liberty Bell award recipient as well as assist in publicizing the event; next, that the speaker would be willing to do the presentation in a zoom format. The speaker, used to delivering a speech from behind a podium, agreed with much trepidation. Lastly, Connor secured the use of two ABA videos to show at strategic moments within the presentation. Bar staff obtained photos from the teachers for the Mock Trial, Essay and Bookmark design contest winners for use in the program. Over the course of 5 weeks, Connor wove the elements together to dovetail with the script and set up multiple rehearsals for those with speaking roles.

Invitations to register were shared with general public via news outlets as well as Bar e-mails and social media posts targeting the students and their families, the schools, women’s groups, Bar members, Court Administration and legal professionals, community partners, the public, civic clubs and organizations and other Bar Associations.

Opening remarks were made by the YCBF President Amy Nelson and then the ABA Rule of Law video was shown. The program included members of the York County Bar Foundation’s Law Day committee, Co-Chaired by Attorney’s Jennifer A. Galloway and Devon M. Myers. Jenn Galloway recognized York County’s top two Mock Trial Teams; Hunter Schenck and Devon Myers recognized the winners of the annual Bookmark Design Contest (Grades 6-8) and Essay Contest for York County High School students. The premise for the bookmark is to depict the Law Day theme through art with the winning design made into a bookmark (5,000 were printed with the YCBA’s Lawyer Referral phone number on the reverse), that will be distributed to children via the York County Library System. The winning essays contest are printed in local newspapers and on of Bar’s Website. Judge Maria Musti Cook recognized the Liberty Bell Award recipient, Jim McClure, and introduced the video about his accomplishments.

Next, the featured speaker, Dora Lewis Townsend shared the fascinating story about the role of her great grandmother, Dora Kelly Lewis, a key figure in the American Suffrage Movement.  The ABA video about the timeline of the events that occurred to enable women to secure the right to vote set the stage for her presentation. Coincidentally, there are two photos in the ABA video that are also included in Dora’s presentation. Dora’s interest in her great-grandmother’s story began several years ago when author, Mary Walton, contacted her. Ms. Walton was writing a book on Alice Paul, a significant leader in the Suffrage Movement (“A Woman’s Crusade”). Dora’s great-grandmother, Dora Kelly Lewis, was an important and trusted colleague of Alice Paul often referred to as “Alice’s first lieutenant”. In gathering the requested information for the author, Dora realized that she was in possession of original source material from which she could develop a presentation program with a unique and very personalized perspective of the American Suffrage Movement. Q&A was moderated by Connor followed the presentation.