(CHICAGO) Katten announced today that National Public Radio legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg joined partner Kenya Woodruff, national chair of Katten's Women's Leadership Forum (WLF), for a virtual fireside chat in honor of International Women's Day and celebrating Totenberg's achievements as an award-winning journalist.
Totenberg's coverage of the Supreme Court and legal affairs has earned her widespread recognition. She has been honored with every major journalism award in broadcasting and holds the distinction of being the first radio journalist to have won the National Press Foundation's "Broadcaster of the Year" award. With more than 40 years' experience at NPR, her reports are regularly featured on NPR's All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition.
At the event, Totenberg recalled how female reporters were scarce when she was beginning in journalism, but she was determined to take on newspaper assignments covering crime, school board meetings and political campaigns to gain valuable experience.
Throughout her career, she bonded with fellow women journalists, such as Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Nan Robertson, who Totenberg credits for enabling her to envision a successful journalism career because Robertson achieved success, and legendary reporter Cokie Roberts, who at Totenberg's urging was hired at NPR. Together, Totenberg and Roberts, along with Linda Wertheimer and Susan Stamberg, have been referred to as NPR's founding mothers.
"We were almost all women there because [the executives] started this network but they didn't want to pay anybody very much. They paid us so little that no man would have worked for the money that we all worked for. We were almost an all-girl band," Totenberg said during the Katten event.
She also developed close relationships with others including late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, friendships that will be featured in Totenberg's upcoming memoir titled Dinners with Ruth: A Memoir of Friendships.
"Forget about breaking the glass ceiling. We just wanted to get a crack in the door and somehow get in. It wasn't easy and we depended on each other a lot, those of us of a certain generation, to live through that, to help each other, to let each other know when there were jobs, or help each other out when there were problems," Totenberg said.
Her advice — to always look out for other people, particularly if they are a minority in the workforce, and to pick your battles and figure out what matters most — resonated with those who attended the Katten event.
"Nina is a dynamic trailblazer, who is devoted to her craft as an excellent journalist," said Woodruff, Katten's WLF leader. "Her message of allyship and advocacy for other women is empowering and uplifting, and dovetails into Katten's focus on fostering an inclusive workplace, one where women and their contributions are valued and they feel supported in pursuing their goals so they can truly thrive in their careers."
Katten is heavily invested in the career progression of its women attorneys through a number of policies, programs and initiatives aimed at attracting, developing, retaining and elevating talent.
Examples include Katten's Kattalyst program launched last year, pairing diverse attorneys with senior-level partners as their sponsors who offer training and coaching opportunities to help enhance leadership and business development skills. The firm recently signed on to Diversity Lab's OnRamp Fellowship program with the overarching goal of returning 200 women to the legal profession by 2025. Through the WLF, the firm matches female attorneys with mentors and offers engaging programming such as a business development boot camp, virtual workshops and networking events.