The 2020 Abely Awards

A Virtual Celebration of the Past 24 Years

We hope you will take 10 minutes to view our video celebrating the Abely Awards and the individuals who have led women and children to safety.

View Abely Video

During the retrospective, we’ll pay tribute to Maryellen Abely and past Abely Award recipients including the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the late Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye, former U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, and many more.

For any questions regarding the event, please contact Chanel Ellis, Manager of Special Events (212) 349-6009 x366 or

The Abely Awards honor the memory of Maryellen Abely, an alumna of Columbia Law School, an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP and a pro bono attorney at Sanctuary for Families’ Legal Center.

Maryellen was a tireless advocate for the rights of victims of domestic abuse and one of the first pro bono attorneys at the Legal Center. After a long battle with cancer, she died in 1995. In remembering Maryellen, we celebrate the contributions of pro bono attorneys, law students, and legal assistants whose efforts enable Sanctuary to serve thousands of domestic violence victims each year.

Established 24 years ago by Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, Sanctuary for Families and Columbia Law School, the Abely Awards honor individuals who have made a difference in the lives of survivors of gender violence. and who embody Maryellen Abely’s compassion, zeal, energy and dedication.

The Abely Awards are hosted by the Legal Advisory Council.

Special thanks to the members of our Board of Directors and President’s Council.

We at Sanctuary for Families are devastated by the loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A giant of American jurisprudence and a relentless champion for the rights of women and minorities, Justice Ginsburg embodied the values that lie at the core of Sanctuary’s mission to end gender-based violence. Eighteen years ago, Sanctuary had the honor of presenting Justice Ginsburg with the Maryellen Abely Award for Leading Women and Children to Safety. As we mourn her passing, we celebrate the life and work of a true champion of gender equality.

Read more about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life and legacy here.