MARY LATHROP TRAILBLAZER AWARD
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.
Nominations for the 2024 Mary Lathrop Trailblazer Award are now closed and were due September 22, 2023.
The 2024 honoree will be introduced during our Annual Holiday Party to be held December 13, 2023, and she will be honored during a special reception at the 46th Annual CWBA Convention on Friday, May 17, 2024.
Meet Our 2023 Mary Lathrop Trailblazer Award Winner
Patricia M. Jarzobski
Watch the video of our 2023 Mary Lathrop Trailblazers Award Celebration held on May 19, 2023, as we recognized our 2023 Honoree Patricia Jarzobski.
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.
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
2016 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