CHARLESTON – The YWCA has named Kanawha Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit as an honoree for the Women of Achievement award.
She will attend a ceremony next year in March and begin her journey in becoming an ambassador for the YWCA’s cause.
Each year, YWCA Charleston honors four Kanawha Valley women for their remarkable personal and professional achievements and their contributions to the community and Tabit has certainly done her part to help the community.
“I feel humbled and honored to be the recipient along with a wonderful group of women I look forward to getting to know,” Tabit said..
Tabit, a native of Charleston, earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Marshall University in 1983 and a law degree from West Virginia University College of Law in 1986. She launched her legal career in 1986 as a personal law clerk to former Supreme Court Justice Thomas E. McHugh. She served as an assistant and then deputy attorney general of the Appellate Division in the Office of the Attorney General from 1989 to 1992.
In 1992, Tabit joined the law firm of Steptoe & Johnson PLLC, where she was a member attorney until October 2014, when Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin appointed her to the bench. West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals appointed her to the state Business Court District in March.
Tabit has worked as an adjunct lecturer teaching summer Appellate Advocacy at West Virginia University College of Law. She served as co-chairwoman of the Campaign for Legal Aid of West Virginia, served on the board of directors for the YWCA of Charleston; acted as chairwoman of the Access to Justice Foundation; served as a member of Board of Governors of the West Virginia State Bar; and served as a commissioner on the City of Charleston Human Rights Commission.
In 2009, Tabit received the Outstanding Private Practice Attorney award presented by the Women’s Law Caucus at West Virginia University College of Law. She was also recognized as Charleston’s Finest by the Kentucky/West Virginia chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for her charitable work for the organization. She is currently a member of the Juvenile Justice Commission.
“In my courtroom, I see the true benefit of the Y programs every day," Tabit told The West Virginia Record. "From child development to homeless and domestic violence programs, we face those problems every day in the courtroom.
"I can see the real value offered by their programs aimed at helping the community."
Tabit is a former board member of the YWCA; she explained how she has seen so many gifted women nominated in the past for the award.
“I have been going to the YWCA luncheon since the inception over 20 years ago," she said. "It’s an inspiring event. You listen to the women nominated and their stories and you walk away feeling so inspired.”
Tabit said the most moving speeches usually come from the empowerment award winner. The YWCA selects an honoree who has overcome tremendous difficulties and challenges in life who then her story of strife and triumph during the ceremony.
“I have been very fortunate to have strong women in my personal and professional life; from my mom to past recipients who have inspired me. I believe women need to work to help and promote other women,” Tabit said.
The nomination is just the beginning of her journey as an honoree with YWCA. Tabit will take part in YWCA’s ambassador program where honorees mentor school-aged students identified as at-risk but intelligent and motivated young women.
“I’ve heard great response from this newer part of the program and I’m looking forward to it. Everyone you talk to that is a part of this program is about giving back. To quote the late great Whitney Houston, I do believe children are our future. I’m excited and honored to be a part of this.”