13 August 2021

Making the Impossible Dream Possible

Born in Colombia in 1939, Dora Beatriz de Grieff Stack accomplished more than she thought she would. Boosted by her experience at the Institute, she eventually became a lawyer, making what felt impossible, possible.  

My life has been a study in beating the odds. Being born a woman in Medellin, Colombia, the likelihood of becoming a lawyer, much less an international lawyer, seemed an impossibility.

Despite all that, in 1963, I managed to obtain a Doctorate in Political Sciences and the Law with Special Mention for my thesis, “The Natural  in Ancient Peoples”, from the Pontifical Bolivarian University of Medellin. The year prior, I was appointed Municipal Judge for the town of Caldas, Colombia. During the first semester of 1963, I was City Attorney for Medellin, until the Swiss Confederation gave me a scholarship to attend the Graduate Institute’s doctoral programme in Geneva for five semesters, an experience that completely changed my life.

In December 1965, I returned to Medellin. The Governor of the State of Antioquia had an assignment for me: help develop the Political Science Institute at the University of Antioquia, Medellin, a task that I performed until June 1967. 

When I obtained a green card from the United States, I went to Washington, D.C. to work for several institutions, including the National Institutes of Research, George Washington University Policy Studies, Institute of International Law and Economics,  Organization of American States, PAHO-WHO Washington, and the United States Federal Court in Alexandria, Virginia.

In 1973, I graduated from George Washington University with a Master in Comparative Law, after which I worked at the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the United States Department of Justice before obtaining a position as Legal Officer at the Food and Agriculture Organization. 

In 1992, after passing the bar in Pennsylvania and Virginia, I joined the International Business Law Firm in Arlington, Virginia. During that time I participated in the “Legal Reform Plan of Mozambique", and worked in the area of Alaskan fisheries.

In 1995, I became sole practitioner, joined later by my late husband. I continue to practice law in Virginia.