FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM OCTOBER 15, 2020 • THE QUEENS COURIER 25
Q&A with Judge Lourdes M. Ventura
BY DEAN MOSES
Schneps Media is sitting down with judges
across the city’s court systems to discuss
their roles and how they’ve changed in the
age of COVID-19. Th is week’s interview
is with Queens County Civil Court Judge
Lourdes M. Ventura.
Schneps Media: Could you describe
your duties as a Civil Court judge?
Hon. Lourdes M. Ventura: Th is is my
fi rst year serving as a Supreme Court
judge in the Civil Term for the 11th
Judicial District in Queens County. I handled
Good leaders value employee feedback
BY DOUG CLAFFEY
In times of change, when is it best
to solicit employee feedback? Company
leaders should ask themselves – and their
leadership team – two questions:
• Do you care what your employees think?
• Does it matter what your employees
Th e fi rst is a heart question, and the
second is a head question. How leaders
answer these two critical questions will
determine if and when to survey employees.
Don’t do it if the leadership team isn’t
ready to take on that feedback.
Leaders should realize they will always
get negative feedback. And in a time
of great challenge, they will probably
get more of it. But they also are likely
to receive some really inspiring positive
feedback. People will step up to great
challenges as a team.
Negative feedback is part of the human
condition. Some entrenched negative folks
are going to provide that feedback. Th ey’re
going to see any challenge as an opportunity
to turn up the volume. Leaders
need to parse through the employee feedback,
particularly around unstructured
comment feedback. Pick from that what
is constructive negative feedback.
Also, choose inspiring positive or constructive
positive feedback. Th en use it to
make informed people decisions that factor
into strategy. Th e negative feedback is
always going to be there. Choose whether
you ignore it or look at it in the proper
How do you communicate around the
feedback you receive?
First, it is important to share the context.
Share the areas where your organization
scores highest, and also share where
you have the greatest opportunities and
Second, it’s really good practice to pick a
representative positive comment (or two)
that channels the positive energy in the
organization and then share it verbatim.
Off er one action you’re going to take as a
result of that feedback. Choose an action
that has company-wide benefi ts.
Here are some examples of mission-critical
insights you can gain from employee
• Uncovering technology challenges is an
example of a relevant insight you can
gain through employee feedback. Oft en,
employees on the front line know where
there are struggles, but the information
doesn’t get up through normal channels.
An employee survey surfaces things like
this right away.
• In a time of great challenge, pressures
on new managers are signifi cant. Oft en,
they don’t want to share that they’re
struggling, but the people on the team
are aware of it. An employee survey will
bring it to light.
• Veteran managers who work well in
less-stressful times can crumble under
the weight of pressure. Use a survey
so management can take action before
it turns into a truly diffi cult problem.
Employee feedback gives you that early
Doug Claff ey is founder of Energage, a
Philadelphia-based research and consulting
fi rm that surveyed more than 2 million
employees at more than 7,000 organizations
in 2019. Nominate your company as
a Top Workplace at amny.com/nominate.
trials, motions and hearings on cases.
Th ere were torts, otherwise known as the
personal injury cases, foreclosure matters,
contract disputes and a never-ending list
of civil cases.
When the pandemic occurred, it happened
to be the week on March 16 when
the courts scaled down. I was the emergency
judge. I covered emergency situations
in other specialized parts. It could
be in matrimonial or mental health, there
are so many moving parts in the Supreme
Court Civil Term.
SM: What was it like working as an
LV: I was a brand-new judge, and it happened
during the week of the pandemic.
Th ank God we have a very collegial
bench, so I looked for guidance from seasoned
judges any time I had a question.
Everyone was open and willing to help.
SM: Was it diffi cult overseeing these
LV: It’s not that it is diffi cult. It’s basically
picking up another area of the
law. Like anyone, you don’t know everything.
It’s the same for a judge. It’s more,
“OK, this is what’s come before me now,
so let me get familiar.” Attorneys have
continuing legal education courses and
judges have continuing judicial education
courses. We always have resources
to look up and learn diff erent areas
of the law.
I attempt to resolve cases the best way
that I can with the understanding of the
law because you always have to look at the
law and apply it to the facts of each case.
Each case is diff erent. Each case is unique.
SM: Is there a silver lining that you can
fi nd from the pandemic?
LV: Th e positive I would say is that we
have become more technologically savvy.
We learned a lot more about technology,
both the litigants and judges.
Everyone in the legal fi eld had to
change with the times and with
It’s amazing how you learn
to value even more the staff
that you have around during
these hard times as well. Our
technology team was amazing
in setting up our
laptops so that we
can work remotely
when the courthouses
down. My staff
w o r k
d o w n
there any misconceptions people have
about judges you would like to clear up?
LV: We don’t know everything. At the
end of the day we are just people. We go
to work and for me I love what I’m doing.
I would say that we are hard workers
because of my own personal experience.
We care about our cases and our caseloads.
At the end of the day it’s not easy
to make a decision. I mean, when I was
in lower civil court, I did nightly small
claims. I got home at 10 p.m. and I was
still thinking about one case. Th e witnesses
touched me in such a way that I was
trying to resolve in my mind: “How am
I going to decide this case?” It’s not that
you just do the job, listen to the stories,
and then you walk away.
Sometimes you take the work
with you home, and you have
to remember to try to make
the decision that you can
live with and that you can
SM: What motivated
you to pursue a career
LV: I was born
and raised in
are from the
Republ i c .
E v e n
t h o u g h
my fi rst
so that was the fi rst hurdle I had to
overcome — learning English. A couple
grades in I fi nally mastered English, and
I was able to communicate. Th at meant
that I became the interpreter and sort of
an advocate for my own parents when
we had to seek services or go to appointments.
I also became our building’s go-toperson
when someone needed an interpreter
for something. It was almost meant
to be that I took a path advocating and
I have met people throughout my life
who have helped me become who I am
today. I am thankful, for my induction
and swearing in ceremonies, I did them
both at Queens Borough Hall because that
was the place where I fi rst went to court
when I was a kid. As a child, I accompanied
my mom at a housing court proceeding
that was against us. I helped my mom
translate and navigate it as a child. I chose
Queens Borough Hall because I wanted
to come back to the place where I fi rst
stepped into a courtroom.
SM: What are some activities you are
involved in outside of work?
LV: I became involved with the
Democratic Party in Queens County,
which also involved civic and Latino organizations
in Queens County.
Community is important to me. I’ve also
been involved in Bar Associations and the
fi rst one I was president of was the Latinos
Lawyers Association of Queens County.
Th ey have shepherded and opened doors
for people like myself. To this day, one of
the programs that started under my presidency,
“Th e Street Law in Español,” where
we team up with St. John’s Law School
Latino Association and we do programs
in the community like “know your rights,”
Photo courtesy of Judge Lourdes M. Ventura which is amazing.