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Games-Neely honored for juggling work, children

March 10, 1998|By AMY WALLAUER

Games-Neely honored for juggling work, children

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - As Berkeley County's Prosecuting Attorney, Pamela Games-Neely takes a no-holds-barred approach to repeat offenders, brushing aside their excuses and promises of rehabilitation. She freely admits she's had several loud tiffs with defense attorneys, sometimes inches from their faces.

Then she goes home, takes her daughter to ballet class and bakes cookies for her children's classmates.

It's her sass on the job and her ability to juggle career and family that the West Virginia Women's Association recognized Friday by awarding Games-Neely the 1998 Celebrate Women award in the professions category.

"She's entered a field that's historically been controlled by men," said Brenda Waugh, an assistant prosecuting attorney and one of the people who nominated her.

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Of the 55 counties in West Virginia, only five others have elected female prosecuting attorneys.

"When she entered it, she didn't forget she was a mom and a woman," Waugh said. "It's really rare to find someone who is so accomplished in her profession and still so grounded at home."

The West Virginia Women's Commission, an agency of the state Department of Health and Human Resources, sponsors the annual awards in 11 categories.

The purpose is to recognize the achievements of West Virginia women, said Sheila McEntee, spokeswoman for the commission.

Games-Neely said her accomplishments aren't any more spectacular than those of other women.

"I think there are 100 other professional women doing what I do," Games-Neely said. "I'm just more visible, I guess."

Robin Stultz, a member of the Women's Commission and one of the judges for the awards, disagreed.

"She stood out because she is a young woman who has gotten into a man's world," Stultz said. "The law and politics have been dominated by good old boys, but she's also a full-time mother."

Games-Neely, 39, shrugs off the praise for being a leader in a male-dominated field.

"Is there gender bias in the field? Yep. Do I pay attention to it? No," she said.

When she's not grilling defendants on the witness stand, consulting with police officers on upcoming criminal cases or writing legal briefs, Games-Neely is home with her two children, sewing Halloween costumes, supervising them and their classmates on the playground or puttering in her garden.

How does she find the time?

"Everybody asks her that. I ask her that," said her husband, Ken Neely. "I don't know how she does it."

"You just do it," Pamela Games-Neely said. "It's something you adjust to. You decide what's important, what can slack. Sometimes it's like Crisis Management 101, but that's the way it works."

Ken Neely said his wife has always been assertive and organized, both at home and professionally.

"That's what attracted me to her in the first place," Ken Neely said. "Pam's real independent and I like that. She doesn't take any guff."

Pamela Games-Neely was appointed Prosecuting Attorney in December 1993 and elected in 1996.

"Pam doesn't sleep much, between calls from attorneys and cops, then her mind going 90 mph," Ken Neely said. "I'm really proud of her."

About 90 women were nominated for the 11 awards, McEntee said. A banquet will be held May 1 in Charleston, W.Va., to recognize their accomplishments.

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