Carol Tracy Honored with Prestigious Sandra Day O’Connor Award 

The Sandra Day O’Connor Award recognizes legal excellence & pioneering work advancing the rights of women & girls

We are proud to announce that the Philadelphia Bar Association will honor Women’s Law Project Executive Director Carol E. Tracy with the prestigious Sandra Day O’Connor Award. The Sandra Day O’Connor Award is annually presented to a female attorney who has demonstrated superior legal talent, achieved significant legal accomplishments, and has furthered the advancement of women in both the profession and the community.

Carol E. Tracy is the recipient of the 2017 Sandra Day O’Connor Award

“For the past 30 years, Carol has been a champion for equality as it relates to advancing the rights of women and girls,” says Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Deborah R. Gross. “Her advocacy in support of, and longtime commitment to, civil rights and to legal aid have benefited our legal community and improved the lives of countless women and their families across the country.  She has mentored many women lawyers and served as a role model for women lawyers seeking to promote equality and improve our system of justice. She truly is a deserving recipient of this recognition and I applaud her accomplishments and her leadership.”

While Carol’s legal work is wide-ranging and has deep roots in Philadelphia, she has risen to national prominence in particular for her expertise and accomplishments defending reproductive rights and improving police and legal responses to sexual and domestic violence.

Since joining Women’s Law Project as Executive Director in 1990, Carol has led major legal victories on the national scale in women’s reproductive rights. Under Carol’s leadership, the Women’s Law Project served as co-counsel in the landmark reproductive rights case Planned Parenthood v. Casey at the Supreme Court of the United States. The Women’s Law Project has been representing abortion providers in Pennsylvania since 1974.

Before joining the WLP, Carol was director of the Mayor’s Commission for Women. A founding member Women Against Abuse, Carol helped open the first DV shelter in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In 2003, she was appointed as co-chair of the newly created Domestic Violence Task Force.

With Carol at the helm, the Women’s Law Project led the effort to reform how the Philadelphia Police Department responds to sexual assault in the wake of a Philadelphia Inquirer investigative report that revealed systemic mishandling of rape cases. Through our work with the Philadelphia police, WLP attorneys recognized that the FBI’s woefully outdated definition of rape resulted in a serious undercounting of the crime of sexual assault in the United States. Carol subsequently testified before Congress as part of a ten-year campaign urging the FBI to update its decades-old definition of rape. This successful effort led to more accurate nationwide data on sexual violence.

Carol currently co-chairs Philadelphia’s Domestic Violence Law Enforcement Committee, which led to reform of the Philadelphia Police Department’s response to domestic violence. In 2014, a new DV shelter was named “Carol’s Place” in her honor. She earned her law degree from the Temple University Beasley School of Law, and teaches at University of Pennsylvania.

The Women’s Law Project is a proud state-based organization with a significant track record of national impact. We leverage high-impact litigation, policy advocacy and community education to defend and advance the legal status of women and girls.

The Philadelphia Bar Association will present Carol Tracy with the Sandra Day O’Connor Award at noon on June 2 at the Hyatt at the Bellevue on Broad Street in Philadelphia.

To request an interview with Carol Tracy, contact Tara Murtha at, or 215-928-5762.

The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

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About womenslawproject

The Women's Law Project creates a more just and equitable society by advancing the rights and status of all women throughout their lives. To this end, we engage in high-impact litigation, advocacy, and education.
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