THwomen40: Profiles

How do you look back on your time at Trinity Hall?

I loved Trinity Hall. From time spent with friends in the MCR, biking through town and being challenged academically in a way that I had not been before, it was one of the best years of my life. I still see my Cambridge housemates almost every year. We all feel the same way about Cambridge – it was a magical time in our lives.

Do you have any advice for other women looking to work in your field?

For many years, as a criminal prosecutor, I was surrounded by women and men. But when I became Attorney General for the State of New Jersey, I was often the only woman in the room. These weren’t just rooms filled with police chiefs and senior prosecutors. They were also other rooms where elected and government officials were making critical decisions that would impact the health, safety, and well-being of millions of people in the State. It’s important to be in those rooms, and to impact the decisions that get made. I don’t think there is an area of the law where I have worked – from law enforcement, national security, human trafficking, philanthropy and levering data and technology to improve the American criminal justice system – where I have not seen the value of having a diversity of ideas and people in the room. All of us as women have to believe that we belong in those rooms, because we do.

So my biggest advice? Go for the jobs you want, get into the rooms where the decisions are made and never hesitate to ask for a promotion or a raise. You won’t always get what you want but you are sending a powerful message: I want to be an important part of the team and I can do the work that needs to be done.

Who are your female role models?

I have two female role models. First, my grandmother, Skippy. She taught in a school for 45 years, raised a family, volunteered in her community and brought a smile, kindness and love to everything she did.

My second role model is the Judge for whom I clerked, Anne Thompson. Judge Thompson is a federal district court judge in New Jersey; she was the third female African American federal judge in the United States and the first African American federal judge in New Jersey. She is a trailblazer who has never thought of herself that way; yet time and time again she has broken through barriers for women and minorities in the law.

What is your greatest career or academic achievement to date?

I should probably say being Attorney General for New Jersey, reforming the Camden Police Deparment, or serving as the lead human trafficking prosecutor for the United States. I loved those jobs and think they are my most meaningful work. But in terms of the most I’ve enjoyed my work? The job that I’ve had for the past 6 years as the criminal prosecution technical advisor to Law & Order SVU might top the list. It turns that it’s really exciting and fun to work on a TV show about police officers and prosecutors as opposed to being one in real life!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Do what you love, don’t worry about having a plan and enjoy life. It goes really fast and there will be lots of opportunities to make a difference.

Connect with Trinity Hall