Alumna Catherine A. Christian to receive Rambo Award

Wyatt Dubois and Cara Stafford
January 14, 2015

The Women’s Law Caucus of The Dickinson Schools of Law of the Pennsylvania State University has selected Catherine A. Christian, class of 1988 and chief of the Manhattan District Attorney Office's Elder Abuse Unit, as the 2015 recipient of the Hon. Sylvia H. Rambo Award in recognition of her exemplary contributions to the legal profession and to society as a whole. Christian will accept the award during a ceremony on Feb. 19 at Lewis Katz Hall in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

The Rambo Award was introduced in 1993 by the Women’s Law Caucus to honor its first recipient, the Hon. Sylvia H. Rambo, a 1962 graduate of The Dickinson School of Law and the first woman to serve as chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, where she continues to serve as a senior judge.

“Ms. Christian’s groundbreaking career in law has made her an outstanding role model for future attorneys, and particularly for women,” said Gabriella Grosso, class of 2015 and president of the Women’s Law Caucus. “She exemplifies all of the qualities that the Rambo Award represents, and we are delighted to honor her with this award.”

As chief of the Elder Abuse Unit for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office (New York County), Christian oversees a team of 20 attorneys investigating and prosecuting criminal activity involving elderly victims. 

Originally appointed as assistant district attorney in the New York County District Attorney's Office in 1988, Christian served in the trial division until she entered private practice in 1995 as a counsel at Yi Tuan and Brunstein. She investigated public corruption as an assistant counsel at the New York State Commission of Investigation and was supervising court attorney for the Bronx Criminal Court and principal court attorney to the Hon. Rosalyn Richter.

In 1998, she was re-appointed assistant district attorney and was assigned to the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York as senior trial counsel. As a member of the Special Investigations Bureau, she conducted complex investigations of international drug trafficking organizations. She was promoted to director of legal staff training in 2001 and counsel for special projects in 2007.

In 2010, the New York state chief judge appointed her to the Chief Judge's Attorney Emeritus Advisory Council. In 2008, the justices of the Appellate Division First Department appointed her to the committee on character and fitness, New York State Appellate Division, First Department.

At age 43, Christian became the youngest person as well as the first black woman to be inducted as president of the New York County Lawyers' Association (NYCLA), one of the largest metropolitan bar associations in the nation. In the 100-year history of NYCLA, she was the association’s second female president. During her presidency the association established pro bono programs to assist former prisoners with successful re-entry and low-income persons plagued by consumer debt. She is currently chair of the NYCLA’s judiciary committee, nominating committee, diversity award committee, and public service awards committee. 

Christian also serves as vice president, 1st District, for the New York State Bar Association, sits on the association’s executive committee, and is a member of its house of delegates and committee on attorneys in public service. From 2004 through 2010, she served on the New York State Bar Association's nominating committee.

Christian is a member of the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association and is a member of the criminal courts committee and an adjunct member of the judiciary committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. She is a member of the New York County District Attorney's Office Brady Committee, and special adviser to the New York County District Attorney's Office Diversity Committee. 

In 2008, Christian received the American Bar Association Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section's Inaugural Liberty Achievement Award. The award honors lawyers and judges who actively promote diversity within the legal community.

In addition to her J.D. from The Dickinson School of Law, Christian holds a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University.

Last Updated July 22, 2015