May 29, 2019

YWCA Spokane Announces 2019 WOA Speaker: Judge Rosemarie Aquilina

Judge. Lawyer. Author. Mother. Teacher. Advocate. Trailblazer.

“You’re never wrong to speak your truth.”- Judge Rosemarie Aquilina

YWCA Spokane is proud to announce the Honorable Rosemarie Aquilina as our Keynote Speaker for our 37th Annual Women of Achievement Awards Luncheon.

Judge Aquilina presided over the USA Gymnastics Team sex abuse scandal involving Larry Nassar, sentencing him to 175 years in prison for the sexual abuse of hundreds of young women over a period of two decades.  By allowing every woman who said they had been sexually assaulted by Nassar face him in court, many say Judge Aquilina empowered these young women and redefined victim testimony.  Learn more in the recent Spokesman-Review Article.

Rosemarie Aquilina is an American Judge serving in Ingham County, most famous for sentencing Larry Nassar of the U.S.A. Gymnastics sex abuse scandal to 175 years in prison. In addition, Aquilina is the first female Judge Advocate General’s Corps officer in the Michigan Army National Guard, a licensed lawyer, author of two novels, daughter of immigrants, mother of five children, and grandmother to two children. Listen to her life story from her perspective in her interview with The Wall Street Journal.



“Some of the questions that are asked [to survivors]; why were you there, what were you wearing, how much did you have to drink, those are blaming questions and immediately shut down victims. Victims don’t want that. Victims need to be supported, need to be believed, and need to have a safe place. Then, of course, the legal system is brutal. They have to be in court, they have to testify. Their body parts may be on a screen in front of a jury… We need to honor victims and take action. I believe you. You matter. Let’s tell your story. I’m sorry this happened to you but you have nothing to be blamed for. The blame solely relies with your predator. Take time to heal because everyone heals on their own time.” – Shared by Judge Aquilina during Wall Street Journal interview.

Aquilina on the Larry Nassar Case

Praised for taking an advocacy role during the Nassar Case rather than remaining silent during testimony and sentencing, Aquilina is, among survivors, a role model of strength and courage. More than 150 women testified during the trial at Aquilina’s encouragement, and is considered among survivors, a “hero.” Watch her interview on the Today Show below.

“Barracuda Aquilina”

Aquilina was born in Munich to a German mother and Maltese father. She moved to the U.S. at the age of one year old and became a citizen at age 12. Aquilina earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Journalism at Michigan State University in 1979. She then went on to earn her law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School (now called Western Michigan University Cooley Law School) in Lansing, Michigan in 1984.

After attaining her law degree, Aquilina joined the Michigan State Army National Guard and became the state’s first female member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. There, she earned the nickname “Barracuda Aquilina” due to her dedication to service and advocating on behalf of the soldiers she worked with, beginning her long career as an advocate. Aquilina is now a retired veteran, serving in the National Guard for 20 years.

Author, Woman of the Year


In addition to her incredible work in law, Aquilina is a published author of two fictional crime novels. She published Feel No Evil in 2003, and Triple Cross Killer in 2017, both receiving high reviews among critics and customers alike.

In 2018, Glamour Magazine recognized Aquilina as a Woman of the Year for giving a voice to survivors and truly listening to their stories. In addition, she is recognized for her rebuke of Nassar while he stood on the bench, and allowing his victims to come and speak as long as they wanted; a move which earned her much criticism from other judges and praise from survivors of sexual assault.

“If you’re affected by crime, you should be able to tell a judge. It’s the people’s court, it’s our laws, our community. It’s our Constitution. If someone doesn’t like what I do, unseat me. It’s that important.” – Shared by Aquilina during interview with Glamour Magazine

Glamour’s woman of the year


After Nassar

One year after Aquilina sentenced Larry Nassar to prison, she is still working to advocate for survivors and makes sure to give them the space to tell their story. She continues to serve in Ingham County and teach, both at Cooley Law School and Michigan State University. She still is contacted by survivors, not only of Nassar, and she continues to listen to their stories. She plans to continue to speak out for survivors so she can leave this world a better place.

“It’s really important for me to know that victims are heard, they’re believed, they understand that each judge, myself including, will do the best job they can to right the wrong. And, of course, you never can right this wrong.” – Judge Aquilina

2019 Women of Achievement Awards Luncheon

YWCA Spokane’s 37th annual awards luncheon will be held Friday, October 11th, 2019 at the Convention Center from 11:30am – 1:30pm. Consider registering today to ensure your spot is saved for this powerful and empowering event. In addition to enjoying an opportunity to listen to Judge Aquilina, we will be celebrating the outstanding achievements of amazing Spokane women who will receive be honored for their impeccable successes and contributions to this community.

For additional Women of Achievement updates, please consider signing up for our Newsletter, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

WOA 2019


We will need many volunteers to assist with our largest event of the year. Let us know if you would like to volunteer and we will reach out to you as we get closer to the event. If you have any questions please contact our Volunteer Coordinator at Thank you!

Donate In Honor Of A Woman of Achievement

If you are unable to join us for this year’s celebration on October 11th, but would like to make a donation in honor of our 37th Awards Luncheon and help YWCA Spokane reach our annual fundraising goal, click here to make a donation.


Thank you so much for helping ensure our doors are open to every woman and child who needs our help!

Thank you to our Deeply Valued Event Sponsors!

This awards celebration would not be possible without their incredible support.

Signature sponsor

Keynote Sponsor

Honoree sponsor

GoodGuys sponsor

Photobooth sponsor

Video Production Sponsor

Champion sponsor

Trailblazer Sponsors


Pioneer Sponsors

Corporate sponsors

Davenport Hotels

First Interstate Bank

Global Credit Union


Horizon Credit Union

Hoyt, Lewis & Associates

HUB International

Moss Adams

PotlatchDeltic Corporation

Umpqua Bank

U.S. Bank

Wells Fargo

Wendle Ford Nissan

YMCA of the Inland Northwest

Non-profit sponsors

Catholic Charities Eastern Washington

Eastern Washington University

Eastern Washington University, Office for Diversity & Inclusion

Gonzaga University

Hospice of Spokane

Martin Luther King Community Center

NATIVE Project

Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho

Spokane Fire Department

Spokane Police Major Crimes Unit

Spokane Public Schools

Women & Children’s Free Restaurant & Community Kitchen

WSU College of Nursing

Corporate Sponsorship

Join YWCA’s 37th annual Women of Achievement awards luncheon as a corporate sponsor. Learn more about the many ways you can engage with this inspirational event and make an incredible difference in our community.

Corporate Sponsor

By: Olivia Moorer

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