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DEI Mission Statement Voices of Excellence Community DEI News & Events

Barclay Damon's approach to diversity and inclusion encourages firm-wide participation in diversity-related work and initiatives by infusing diversity and inclusion principles in business and strategic planning at every level. Barclay Damon's diversity partner, Sheila Gaddis, oversees all diversity initiatives, including the Diversity Partner Committee and the Diversity Leadership Teams resident in each office.

Philosophy 

Barclay Damon embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace through a commitment to education, dialogue, and relationship building. We strive to offer the highest level of client service and recognize that a collaborative, diverse, and inclusive community of legal professionals is vital to our success. We celebrate people of all races, gender identities, ages, ethnic origins, national origins, religions, sexual orientations, and physical abilities.

We understand that varied backgrounds and perspectives result in a diversity of thought and ideas. This helps us achieve superior performance in providing solutions to our clients as well as establishing an environment where people are supported and can excel and meet their full potential.
 

Anti-Racism Resources

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Diversity Partner Committee

Diversity Partner Committee Chair
Rochester
Pro Bono At Large
Buffalo
At Large
Buffalo
At Large
Rochester
Partner
Albany
Partner
Syracuse
Partner
Buffalo
Of Counsel
New Haven
Partner
Rochester

Voices of Excellence is Barclay Damon’s quarterly publication celebrating Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiatives across the firm. This edition focuses on anti-racism and the ways we as individuals and as a firm can take action against racism and the systemic oppression of marginalized groups. Being anti-racist is based on our conscious, collective effort and action to provide equitable opportunities for all. People can act against racism by acknowledging personal privileges, confronting acts of racial discrimination, and working to change our own racial biases. This issue features insights from various firm members about their participation in anti-racism activities and initiatives. We hope you enjoy these articles and that they inspire the Barclay Damon family to continue the fight against racism. 

Past Issues:

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BUFFALO 

Virtual Food Drive
The Buffalo office held a virtual food drive to benefit FeedMore WNY, doubling its original goal of contributing 250 food items by ending with a total of 501 virtually donated food items.

ROCHESTER 

Monroe County Commission on Racial and Structural Equity
Sheila Gaddis, Diversity Partner Committee chair, served as a Selection Committee member in creating the City of Rochester’s new Commission on Racial and Structural Equity.

SYRACUSE
Volunteer Lawyers Project
The Syracuse office has been working with the Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County, Inc. and its Small Business Consult program to assist small businesses and not-for-profits impacted by COVID-19. Attorneys have also resumed their participation in its Family Law Clinic and Tenant Rights Clinic, which reopened in July and August, respectively.
 

ALBANY 

Sponsorships
The Albany office sponsored the Albany Law School Black Law Students Association’s annual James Campbell Matthews Banquet in celebration of Black History Month and was a sponsor of the Legal Aid Society for Northeastern New York’s Justice for All Campaign for the provision of legal services to vulnerable and low-income individuals.

Albany Law School Speaking Engagements
Brienna Christiano, associate, spoke on a panel providing students with advice on networking and relationship building. David Cost, partner; Naresh Kannan, counsel; and Jennifer Cruz, former 1L and 2L summer associate, served as panelists discussing the firm’s Diversity 1L Summer Associate Program. Brenda Baddam, associate, was a panelist during the Albany Law School “Minority Women in Law” event. 

Community Day
Albany office attorneys, staff, and their family members went virtual for this year’s Community Day, participating in the United Way of the Greater Capital Region’s 518 Day to raise money for local COVID-19 relief efforts. Activities included virtual 5ks and fitness classes, trivia, a community-wide baby shower drive, and a sidewalk chalk mural competition. Thanks to everyone who participated, and a special thanks to Alexis Clement, counsel; Mary Connolly, associate; David Cost, partner; Paul Powers, senior business advisor; and Melissa Zambri, co-leader of the Health Care and Health & Human Services Providers Teams, for sending in pictures to share on the firm’s social media accounts!

BUFFALO 

Heart Health Red Carnation Drive
In memory of late partner Larry Oppenheimer, the Buffalo office was particularly active in the firm’s Heart Health Red Carnation Drive and National Wear Red Day, with proceeds going to the American Heart Association.

Haven House Adopt-a-Family & Toyland Luncheon
After the Buffalo office donated winter apparel to Haven House for domestic violence survivors and their children during the annual Holiday Drive, Shannon Howley, associate, attended the Haven House Adopt-a-Family & Toyland Luncheon at Child & Family Services in February.

MAJOR MARKETS - Boston,MA | New Haven, CT | New York, NY

Diversity Leadership Team
We’re excited to announce our new Major Markets Diversity Leadership Team. Led by Penny Mason, partner, the team represents the Boston, New Haven, and New York offices. Team members include Boston’s Carolyn Marcotte Crowley, partner; and Todd Huston, legal secretary; New Haven’s Cathy Siegel, legal secretary; and New York’s Sharon Brown, partner; Janice Grubin, Restructuring, Bankruptcy & Creditor’s Rights Practice Area co-chair; and Natalie Hajinelian, receptionist. We can’t wait to see what great ideas they’ll bring to our Diversity & Inclusion initiative!

ROCHESTER 

WOIS Senior Capstone Project
Sanjeev Devabhakthuni, counsel, and Patrick Burke, office manager, volunteered to sit on the morning panel for the World of Inquiry School’s Senior Capstone Project, providing feedback on the students’ proposals for their own community projects connected to a topic of interest. Barclay Damon is involved in the Capstone Project as it develops throughout the school year, culminating in a final presentation of each project in May.

SYRACUSE

Diversity 1L Mentoring Program
In partnership with the Syracuse University College of Law, the Syracuse office continued its third annual Diversity 1L Mentoring Program throughout the spring semester. The program connects firm attorneys with 1Ls from historically underrepresented groups within the legal profession.

Volunteer Lawyers Project
The Syracuse office has volunteered to participate in a program being administered by the Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County, Inc. in conjunction with Centerstate CEO to provide legal assistance for small businesses and not-for-profits impacted by COVID-19.
 

ALBANY

Northeast Black Law Student Association Presentation
Kadeem Wolliaston, associate, served as a panelist at the Northeast Black Law Student Association Upstate Academic Retreat in October, where he discussed his post-law-school career. 

Equinox Annual Thanksgiving Day Community Dinner
Many thanks to the Albany attorneys and staff who volunteered to help Equinox sort and organize ingredients for thousands of meals for its annual Thanksgiving Day community dinner. A special shout out goes to Jan Smith, paralegal, for organizing the event!

Diversity Mentoring Program
In conjunction with Albany Law School students, the Albany office kicked off its Diversity Mentoring Program with a November 14 reception. Thanks to Melissa Bennett, David Cost, Brian Culnan, Bob Hussar, Oksana Ludd, and George Pond, all partners; Brad Gallagher and Naresh Kannan, both counsel; and Eric Brenner, Dena DeFazio, Amanda Mirabito, Shali Natesan, and Kadeem Wolliaston, all associates; for serving as mentors this year!

Albany Law School Community Development Clinic
Through the Albany Law School Community Development Clinic, Connie Cahill, deputy managing partner and Public Finance Practice Area chair; Brian Culnan and Oksana Ludd, both partners; Margaret Surowka, counsel; and Amanda Mirabito, associate, donated pro bono legal services to individuals looking for advice on starting or expanding small businesses.

Black and Latin American Law Students Associations Presentation
David Cost and Oksana Ludd, both partners; Naresh Kannan, counsel; and Brenda Baddam and Kadeem Wolliaston, both associates, presented to the Albany Law School Black and Latin American Law Students Associations about their legal practices during a joint meeting hosted at the Albany office for members.

BUFFALO

Champions for Justice Bash
The Bar Association of Erie County Volunteer Lawyers Project held its annual Champions for Justice Bash in November, with Bob Heary, Labor & Employment Practice Area chair, and Bridget Steele, associate, attending. Bob is a board of directors member, and Bridget is a Rising Champions for Justice board member. The Buffalo and Clarence offices regularly partner with the VLP on pro bono work.

Project Warm Your Heart 
The Buffalo and Clarence offices held their seventh annual mitten, glove, hat, and scarf drive, donating warm winter accessories to Haven House, which serves domestic violence survivors, and Journey’s End Refugee Services, which supports and provides resources to refugees in the WNY community.

Bar Association of Erie County Yuletide Challenge Toy Drive 
The Buffalo and Clarence offices supported the Bar Association of Erie County Young Lawyers Committee’s annual toy drive, which benefits the Legal Aid Bureau’s Attorneys for Children Unit. More than 800 toys were collected during the drive for kids involved in abuse and neglect proceedings.

ROCHESTER

Adopt-a-Family Program
The Rochester office participated in Cameron Ministries’ Adopt-a-Family program during the holiday season, donating gifts for families living in poverty.

Community Day
The Rochester office annual Community Day took place at Washington Grove, with attorneys and staff helping with trail maintenance and removing invasive species such as lily of the valley, honeysuckle, and Norway maples. Andrew Seager, Friends of Washington Grove president, also led volunteers on a tour of the grove and up to the top of Cobbs Hill Reservoir.

SYRACUSE

United Way of CNY Emerging Leaders United Reception
The Syracuse office hosted a reception on the Barclay Damon Rooftop Terrace on September 25 for the launch of the United Way of CNY Emerging Leaders United group, which is comprised of young professionals committed to getting involved with and giving back to the CNY community. 

Diversity 1L Mentoring Program
In partnership with the Syracuse University College of Law, the Syracuse office launched its third annual Diversity 1L Mentoring Program. The program connects firm attorneys with 1Ls from historically underrepresented groups within the legal profession.

Share the Warmth From Head to Toe 
The Syracuse office held its 2019 Share the Warmth From Head to Toe holiday drive, collecting winter hats, gloves, and socks in December for the Samaritan Center, a local not-for-profit that serves the hungry and those in need in order to promote their welfare, dignity, and self-sufficiency. 
 

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