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Meet Luminary Member, Karen Ortiz



Tell us a bit about yourself! How did you get started with your current career path/business journey?

I always had an interest in the law and its use as a remedy for social injustice. When I was in high school, I participated in a mock Supreme Court oral argument, playing the role of a Supreme Court Justice. I really got into it and, looking back, that role-playing sparked my desire to become a lawyer and later, a judge. It has been a long and very winding road to get here, with many pitstops (and detours!) along the way. And now that I am in my current position I'm excited about leveraging my role as a judge to give greater visibility to women of color in my field.

How are you overcoming challenges during the pandemic as a business owner?

Since I am a federal employee, I am thankful that I can continue to work during the pandemic. The transition to working from home has been pretty seamless technology-wise. My greatest challenge is to make sure that I am "reading the room" during conference calls with parties. It is my job to be calm and controlled and to keep cases moving along, while also taking into account that many of the people appearing before me are facing extreme hardships as a result of COVID-19. Before each call/video conference, I do some intentional deep breathing and repeat, "Let me be of service" to myself. It centers me and allows me to do my job with compassion.

What does your day to day schedule look like working from home?

Every day is different depending on conference calls and deadlines. Typically, I have more mental energy in the morning, so after coffee and a check on the news and email, I work from about 7:00 a.m. to about 2:00 p.m. I'll take a break to eat and watch the daily press briefing by Governor Cuomo, which I find essential for its fact-based presentation and inspirational messages. I then clean the house and go out to do whatever errands are necessary. Late afternoon is for catching up with my mother and sister in Florida, chatting with friends, and then finishing up business or personal work in the early evening after dinner. I'm usually in bed by 10:00 p.m. and hopefully don't stay up too late watching Netflix. Ozark kept me up all night, as did Bosch and Bordertown. All great shows. That's a bad habit so I'm going to try to read more. We'll see!

In what ways are you taking care of your personal well being and what are your #selfcare tips?

I am doing what feels good in my heart. I do a short, manageable yoga sequence every day. I make sure to get outside a few times a day even if it's raining. I keep a schedule and have a hard stop time for work each day. And I do not work on weekends. I use that time to refuel, catching up with my inner circle, listening to music, and reading. I also listen to podcasts by women I deeply respect (Luminary's Come Sit At Our Table podcast, Going Beyond, HerMoney, Leave Your Mark) and I watch British murder mysteries (Vera is a favorite).

How are you inviting others to take a seat at the table #virtually?

I love mentoring, especially female law students. Many of my mentees are facing uncertainty as they complete their semesters online and grapple with a delayed bar exam date. I am continuing to reach out and make sure that they are not sidelined in any way by the pandemic. I let them know that their voices are important and that we need them in the profession. We FaceTime, email, text. I'll do whatever it takes to keep the exchange flowing. I am also writing recommendation letters, giving references, and pointing them towards job opportunities. I am a one-woman welcome wagon for the legal profession!

What impact has Luminary made in your career? eg: Business Generated, Revenue, New Clients, Career Connections, Advancement Opportunities 

I have seen a sea change within myself since joining Luminary. I am constantly learning from the community in a very real, visceral way what it looks like to own your fabulousness. I have become unapologetic about my accomplishments and my big goals. I am learning, too, from the small biz owners and founders in the community, how to apply an entrepreneur mindset to the work I do.