The Hon. Tanya R. Kennedy
Hon. Tanya R. Kennedy was appointed in July 2020 as an Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, First Department by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. Prior to her appointment, Justice Kennedy served as a Justice of the Supreme Court, New York County, commencing in January 2016, after election in November 2015. She was elected to Civil Court in November 2005 and thereafter served in Criminal Court (January 2006-September 2008), Civil Court (September 2008-December 2009), Family Court (January 2010-December 2010), as Acting Supreme Court Justice (January 2011-December 2012) and as Supervising Judge of Civil Court, New York County (January 2014-December 2015). She is also a former Adjunct Professor at Fordham University School of Law, where she taught a Juvenile Justice seminar for ten years.
Before her election to Civil Court, Justice Kennedy served as Principal Law Clerk to Hon. Barry A. Cozier when he was an Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department (March 2001-December 2005) and when he was a Justice in the Commercial Division, New York County (May 1999-March 2001). Prior to her clerkship with Justice Cozier, Justice Kennedy served in the Office of the Corporation Counsel, New York City Law Department, as an Assistant Corporation Counsel in the Bronx Family Court Division (August 1992-August 1994) and in the Bronx Tort Division (August 1994-August 1997), where she was promoted to Tort Trial Specialist and later to Assistant Deputy Chief.
Justice Kennedy is Co-Chair of the newly formed Wellness Committee of the Appellate Division, First Department; a life member of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association and a former board member of the Association; member of the Board of Directors of the New York City Bar Association and past chair of the organization’s Special Committee to Encourage Judicial Service. She is also an Executive Committee member of the Women in Law Section of the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA); Secretary of NYSBA’s Judicial Section; member of the Committee on Pattern Jury Instructions of the Association of Supreme Court Justices of the State of New York; member of the Board of Overseers of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where she received her law degree; and an Advisory Board Member of Penn State Law.
She is also the Past President of the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ). During Justice Kennedy’s term as NAWJ President, the organization convened cutting-edge legal education for the bench, bar and community to address cybersecurity and the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, the dark web and virtual currencies, e-discovery, bail reform, the opioid crisis, mental wellness, dementia in the courtroom, engaging millennials and building a personal brand. After organizing a Legislative Caucus on Capitol Hill focusing on ensuring a healthy work environment free of sexual harassment, Justice Kennedy led NAWJ in trademarking “#WETOO IN THE LEGAL WORKPLACE.” She also established the ADA Compliance Policy, Law School Outreach, LGBTQ and Technology Committees as NAWJ President to further the organization’s mission to ensure equal access to justice for all.
She is a product of the New York City public school system and a single parent household whose mother worked two jobs during Justice Kennedy’s early childhood and made sacrifices to ensure she knew life existed beyond the Bronx. Justice Kennedy’s mother also instilled in her the value of education and the importance of serving others. Justice Kennedy credits these life lessons, as well as those who saw her potential and provided her with various opportunities as the reasons for her professional advancement, as well as her responsibility to inspire, motivate and assist others in the pursuing their dreams. As a result of her commitment to increasing the pipeline of underrepresented communities to the legal profession, Justice Kennedy has participated in the Role Model Program of the founding chapter of the New York Coalition of 100 Black Women and hosted summer interns from the Sonia & Celina Sotomayor Judicial Internship Program and from the Law and Society Major Internship Program of the Brooklyn Technical High School, which is her alma mater. She is also committed to the pursuit of higher education and has served as a mentor through her visits to various churches, schools, and other organizations as a motivational speaker. Her greatest pride and joy was the informal speakers’ bureau she founded and ran from 2011 to 2014 targeting at-risk youth where she invited guests to discuss their past mistakes and difficult life stories, as well as to provide advice to the youngsters on how to avoid the same pitfalls the guests previously encountered in their young lives.
Justice Kennedy further promotes the advancement and empowerment of women through her membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Tau Omega Chapter. In addition, Justice Kennedy is an Executive Committee member and a silver life member of the NAACP MidManhattan Branch, as well as a member of the Abyssinian Baptist Church.
A frequent speaker at various conferences, Justice Kennedy has received numerous professional awards, including the 2022 Award of Recognition from the New York Women’s Bar Association; the 2022 Champion for Justice Award from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Center for Elder Justice; the 2021 Distinguished Alumna Award from Penn State University; the 2021 NYSBA John E. Higgins, Esq. Diversity Trailblazer Award; the 2020 Inspiration Award from the New York Coalition of Women’s Initiatives in Law; the 2018 Annual Women of Distinction Award from the National Council of Negro Women, Inc., North Bronx Section; the 2018 Brooklyn Technical High School Hall of Fame Designation; the 2017 Diversity Leadership Award from Penn State Law; the 2017 Diversity Leadership Award from Penn State Law; and the 2015 Alumni of the Year Award from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.