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Former Chancellor of Archdiocese
of Washington is 2014 Commencement
Speaker for Columbus School of Law

Jane Golden Belford Jane Golden Belford, who served for 13 years as the chancellor of the Archdiocese of Washington, will address graduating law students at the 125th Commencement of The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law on Friday, May 23, 2014.

The commencement ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.  Belford will receive the President's Medal, the highest honor awarded by CUA, in recognition of her outstanding achievement as an individual embodying the mission and spirit of the University.  

As chancellor, Belford held the highest ecclesiastical or decision making office a layperson can hold in the Roman Catholic Church. She is the first woman and the first layperson to hold the position in the history of the Archdiocese of Washington.  She was appointed chancellor by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in 2001 and was reappointed by Cardinal Donald Wuerl in 2006.  In addition to her duties as chancellor, she served as general counsel and director of public affairs for the Archdiocese.

“The newest graduates of a law school that has produced many pioneers of its own could not ask for a better speaker than Jane Belford, who has rewritten the rules on how best to serve God and country,” said John Garvey, President of The Catholic University of America. 

Belford practiced law for many years in Washington, D.C., and was formerly a partner in the law firm Foley & Lardner. She left her partnership to devote more time to her family and to work on behalf of many charitable organizations in the Washington archdiocese, filling different roles as board member, pro bono attorney, and volunteer, including the Archdiocesan Pro Bono Legal Network, which she helped to establish: Jesuit Volunteers; the Order of Malta; and the Missionaries of Charity Gift of Peace Home, where she helped to serve homeless men with AIDS.

Belford spent her time as chancellor guiding a period of significant change and growth within the archdiocese, which serves more than 620,000 Catholics in Washington and suburban Maryland. She oversaw the creation of the Office of Child Protection, the expansion of the legal, communications, and public affairs offices, and Pope Benedict XVI’s 2008 visit to Washington, in addition to other accomplishments.

“I do not know of a better representative of what it means to be a Catholic lawyer,” said Daniel F. Attridge, Dean and Knights of Columbus Professor of Law.  “Jane Belford has intertwined her faith and her professional legal training in the most meaningful ways possible. The example she has set is something every one of our students can aspire to.”

In service to her profession, Belford served as a two-term member of the Board of Governors of the District of Columbia Bar, chair of the D.C. Public Service Activities Corporation, and president of the Women’s Bar Association. She also served on committees for the federal and local courts and as a mediator in their alternate dispute resolution programs.

In recognition of Belford’s service to the Church and commitment to the mission of the Archdiocese of Washington, she received the Papal Honor of Dame of the Order of St. Gregory and the Benemerenti Medal awarded by Pope Benedict XVI.

Belford also has a personal connection to Catholic University’s law school, where her son is a second year student. Belford received her undergraduate degree from Manhattanville College and her law degree with honors from the Georgetown University Law Center.  She retired at the end of 2013 and has been succeeded as chancellor and general counsel of the Archdiocese of Washington by Cynthia DeSimone, a 2003 alumna of the Columbus School of Law.

For more information contact:

Tom Haederle
Director, Office of Public Affairs
The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law


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