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The CWBA's prestigious Mary Lathrop Trailblazer Award, our highest honor, is presented annually to an outstanding female attorney who has enriched the community through her legal and civic activities. The Award recognizes the tradition begun by Mary Lathrop, an early woman lawyer in Colorado who blazed many trails for other women in the profession.

2023 Mary Lathrop Award Honoree Patricia Jarzobski
Photo credit: Christy Sanchez Photography

Nominations for the 2024 Mary Lathrop Trailblazer Award are now closed and were due September 22, 2023.

The 2024 honoree was introduced during our Annual Holiday Party and will be honored during a special reception at the 47th Annual CWBA Convention on Friday, May 17, 2024.

Please contact the CWBA’s Professional Advancement Committee Co-Chairs Hon. Christine Washburn or Stephanie Williams if you have any questions about the award or nomination process. 

Meet Our 2024 Mary Lathrop Trailblazer Award Winner

The Hon. Charlotte Sweeney
U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado

It is our distinct honor The Honorable Charlotte Sweeney as the recipient of the 2024 CWBA Mary Lathrop Trailblazer Award.

Judge Sweeney was selected for CWBA’s highest honor because she embodies the qualities of a true trailblazer in her professional career and her commitment to community service. She is the first openly LGBTQ federal district court judge in Colorado and the first LGBTQ woman to serve as a district court judge west of the Mississippi. Prior to her appointment to the bench in 2022, she dominated the field of employment law at the helm of her own law firm where she was a fierce advocate for women, people of color, the LGTBQ community, and people with disabilities. Her work in pay equality has been groundbreaking in the courtroom and at the General Assembly. Judge Sweeney has also been a member of the Colorado Women’s Bar Association for over twenty-five years, regularly volunteering as a speaker and actively working on several of the committees. She has dedicated both her professional life and precious free time to advancing the interests of women and other vulnerable populations in the legal community and beyond.

Please join us in recognizing Judge Sweeney for her outstanding contributions to the legal profession.

We are proud to honor Judge Sweeney with the 2024 CWBA Mary Lathrop Award, as she embodied the intelligence, strength, stamina, and character of a true trailblazer! 

Watch the video of our 2023 Mary Lathrop Trailblazers Award Celebration held on May 19, 2023, as we recognized our 2023 Honoree Patricia Jarzobski
Click here to read the event program.

History of the Mary Lathrop Award 

Mary Lathrop (September 1880)

Mary Lathrop was born in 1865 to a Philadelphia Quaker family. At age 19, she became a reporter at a local newspaper. She had a distinguished career until poor health forced her to choose a new profession at age 30. She came to Colorado and pursued a legal degree at the University of Denver College of Law where she graduated first in her class. She passed the Colorado Bar in 1896 with a score that would stand as a record until 1941.

Lathrop hung her shingle in Colorado in 1897, specializing in probate law. She continued to influence this field, helping to redraft probate statutes and assisting in developing the Small Guardianship Law. Her most famous case was Clayton v. Hallett, which established the law of charitable bequests in Colorado.

Lathrop was a woman whose many “firsts” would inspire others to follow in her footsteps. After being turned down twice because “women should not practice law,” she was the first woman admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court in Colorado. She was also the first woman to open a law office in Colorado, the first woman to argue before the Colorado Supreme Court, the first woman to join the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations, and was one of the first two women to join the American Bar Association.

Lathrop recognized the importance of community involvement. During her lifetime, she made anonymous donations to help students. She also received numerous awards for her service work and excellence in the legal profession. After her death in 1951, she left the bulk of her estate to establish a student loan fund at the University of Denver.

In order to preserve and foster the memory of this woman who has left a legacy for us all, the Colorado Women’s Bar Association (CWBA) began presenting the Mary Lathrop Award in 1991 and has made an annual presentation each year since. The CWBA gives the Mary Lathrop Trailblazer Award to an outstanding female attorney who has enriched the community through her legal and civic activities.

The CWBA is grateful for the ongoing and generous financial support of Lewis Roca, LLP for sponsoring this award’s presentation each year at the CWBA Annual Convention.

Past Mary Lathrop Trailblazer Award Honorees

2023  Patricia Jarzobski
2022  The Honorable Theresa Spahn
2021  The Honorable Karen Ashby
2020  Velveta Golightly-Howell
2019  Alli Gerkman (deceased)
2018  Beth H. McCann
2017  Rebecca C. Alexander
201 Helen C. Shreves
2015  The Honorable Sandra I. Rothenberg 
2014  The Honorable Patricia Coan 
2013  Lorraine Parker and Doris Truhlar
2012  The Honorable Janice B. Davidson, and Lynn Feiger 
2011  The Honorable Mary A. Celeste  
2010  Deborah R. Adams
2009  The Honorable Elizabeth A. Starrs
2008  Lynda A. McNeive  
2007  Pamela Robillard Mackey
2006  Fay M. Matsukage
2005  The Honorable Nancy E. Rice 
2004  Marla Williams
2003  The Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg (deceased) and Mary E. Ricketson
2002  The Honorable Mary Mullarkey (deceased) 
2001  The Honorable Rebecca Love Kourlis
2000  The Honorable Christine Arguello and Dottie Wham
1999  Gale Norton and Gail Schoettler
1998  Susan Barnes and The Honorable Claudia Jordan
1997  Cathlin Donnell and Mary Hoagland (deceased)
1996  Sheila Hyatt, Barbara Salomon, and Mimi Wesson
1995  Norma Comstock, Karen Steinhauser, and The Honorable Zita L. Weinshienk (deceased) 
1994  Natalie S. Ellwood
1993  The Honorable Jean Dubofsky, Marilyn Traub Meadoff, and The Honorable Jacqueline St. Joan
1992  Mary Brickner, Margaret B. Ellison, and Brooke Wunnicke (deceased) 
1991  Elizabeth Adams Conour, Elizabeth L.Guyton Girch, Estelle Hadley, and Helen T. Street  



Colorado Women's Bar Association

P.O. Box 1918

Denver, CO 80201

Telephone: (303) 831-1040


 SPRING 2024


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