Lynne Abraham speaks to the Cabrini Community

By Liz Garrett
September 27, 2007

Learning how to obtain leadership skills requires a combination of effort and a strong personality. “I don’t recommend how I did it to anyone, it just worked for me,” Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham said, as she shared her opening thoughts with those present at Cabrini College’s Leader Lecture Series on Monday, Sept. 17.

“How Elected Officials Can Become True Leaders-I Did It My Way,” was an explanation of Abraham’s past experiences that led her to the position she holds today.

Lynne Abraham is both a former judge and assistant district attorney for the city of Philadelphia. She became district attorney in 1991 and has been reelected four times; She has held the office longer than any individual in Philadelphia’s history. The year 2010 will mark the conclusion of Abraham’s current term.

Challenging and prompting authority has been Abraham’s forte since her days in grade school. Her curiosity to question people above her definitely paid off during her time in law school, at Temple University. “I have always been inquisitive, perhaps too inquisitive,” said Abraham when describing to the audience her tendencies in risk taking and stepping “outside of the box.”

Abraham said she enjoys having an opponent disagree. She said she does not believe in the stereotypes of how leaders are supposed to be. “I’m not rich, I’m just a wage earner,” Abraham said, seeking to explain that real people can rise to high positions.

Abraham said leaders must have a “high degree of energy” in order to do well. Abraham also said that she contributed a lot to the criminal justice system, such as making juvenile courts available to the common public. According to her, it takes an extremely strong and determined individual to do this type of career work.

Abraham said leaders need a certain edge, as well as courage to make appropriate decisions. “If you can’t get the job done, you’re a daydreamer,” Abraham said, to support her principle. Leaders must also have “tremendous passion.” In Abraham’s eyes it is vital for a person to be convinced of their views, so that others will be inspired.

Near the end of her speech, Abraham introduced an online program to the audience called “I Lead,” which she and her peers have worked on. It is designed to help grass-roots citizens become community leaders through a combination work-study plan. ?

Participants can acquire an associate’s degree once the program is concluded. Abraham pointed out that this program is implemented in 17 cites across Pennsylvania. The program may be found at

Abraham elaborated on her interest in creating opportunities for those who are eager to learn, “opening doors to people who are really thirsting for it.” Abraham said her father was the most influential person in her life. He instilled in her the idea to live life dependently.

As a woman, and therefore he was her first motivation.

Abraham had one optimistic phrase up her sleeve when she announced how she will spend her time once her term is up, “there’s something wonderful waiting for me out there.”

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Liz Garrett

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