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DEI DEI at Barclay Damon Voices of Excellence Awards and Honors Recruitment Community DEI News & Events

Barclay Damon’s approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) encourages firm-wide participation in diversity-related work and initiatives by infusing DEI 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, Diversity Leadership Teams resident in each office, and the employee affinity networks.

We invite you to view this video to learn more about Barclay Damon’s approach to DEI.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Barclay Damon

Anti-Racism Resources

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Diversity Partner Committee

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

Barclay Damon embraces DEI 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 and help us achieve superior performance while providing an environment where people are supported and can excel and meet their full potential.
 

All attorneys and staff participate in a DEI orientation when they join the firm. Barclay Damon routinely offers a variety of internal DEI training sessions and hosts lunch ‘n’ learn presentations by community speakers open to all attorneys and staff members. Presentations have included “Bias Interrupters,” “Microaggressions,” “Implicit and Unintentional Bias,” “Understanding Power and Privilege,” “Fundamental Concepts for Understanding Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity,” and “NYS GENDA Law Overview.”

Barclay Damon communicates our support of DEI with our lunch ‘n’ learn presentations and our quarterly Voices of Excellence publication, which highlights the firm's efforts and initiatives and is distributed firm wide and is available here. Firm-wide “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion State of the Firm” videoconferences are also held regularly with all attorneys and staff to highlight the firm’s commitment to DEI and progress made on various initiatives.

The firm’s frequently updated “Anti-Racism Resources” document, which you can access above, is available to all employees and helps individuals looking to take intentional action to better understand and combat systemic racism, oppression, and prejudice based on gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religion, homophobia, and ability status, among others.
 

This edition of Voices of Excellence from Barclay Damon’s Major Markets (Boston, MA., New Haven CT., and New York, NY) and Albany offices focuses on the power of affinity groups and their importance for the individual member and for Barclay Damon’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion goals.

Past Issues:

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Monique E. Emdin Memorial Award at University at Buffalo

Monique Emdin was a summer associate at our firm in 2006 and joined the following year as an associate. Tragically, soon after graduating from University at Buffalo School of Law, Monique was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. After a hard battle, Monique passed away in March 2008.

Shortly after her death, the firm, in partnership with Monique’s church, Bethesda World Harvest International, and University at Buffalo School of Law, created the Monique E. Emdin Memorial Award, which is given annually at the law school’s Students of Color Dinner to “one or more University at Buffalo School of Law’s graduating seniors who are members of groups traditionally underrepresented in the legal profession and who demonstrate a commitment to community service, including significant service in faith-based communities, or have made significant contributions to the law school through involvement in student groups,” with preference given to students who demonstrate financial need. 
 

Firm Honors

Recent honors from community organizations include the following:

  • Barclay Damon was honored as an Albany Business Review Leader in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
  • The firm was recently recognized with the Law Firm Commitment Award from the Erie County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project and has been recognized in past years for our support of Buffalo’s Say Yes to Education program.
  • A number of the firm’s attorneys have been awarded Empire State Counsel® recognition by the New York State Bar Association for providing 50 hours or more of legal services in a calendar year to people of limited means.
  • Barclay Damon was awarded the Partnership of the Year Award by Partners for Education and Business, a division of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York, for the firm’s participation and sponsorship of the internship program with Central Tech High School.
  • Barclay Damon has been acknowledged as an American Bar Association Free Legal Answers Pro Bono Leader.

The firm is a workplace of choice to attorneys and staff from all backgrounds, cultures, orientations, and experiences. Our recruiting efforts include the following activities:

  • Utilizing a diversity-recruiting matrix of 20 organizations to expand our reach to advertise attorney positions within the firm
  • Working with professional recruiters to identify diverse candidates as a special focus and part of the firm’s overall recruiting efforts
  • Posting employment opportunities with HBCUs and the New York State Department of Labor and participation in pre- and post-graduate career awareness days, job fairs, and job exploration days

Barclay Damon’s pioneering Diversity 1L Summer Associate Program presents a unique, paid opportunity for law students from traditionally underserved populations to gain professional experience typically not offered by firms until students' second year of study. Over the course of their internship, students work with attorneys across the firm's practice areas to deeply experience the firm's services, culture, and business operations. The students gain valuable insight into legal areas they may want to practice after law school. The firm partners with Syracuse University College of Law, University at Buffalo School of Law, Albany Law School, and the Monroe County Bar Association Diversity Committee.
 

ALBANY
Barclay Damon Receives Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York Distinguished Service Award
On December 7, 2021, Barclay Damon was honored with the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York’s (LASNNY) Distinguished Service Award. Lillian Moy, executive director of LASNNY, presented the award to David Cost, who accepted the award on the firm’s behalf. Upon remarks about Barclay Damon’s mandatory pro bono requirement, the room gave a round of applause.

2021 LASNNY Justice for All Kickoff
David Cost was a speaker at the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York’s Justice for All Campaign as co-chair of the drive that raises money to help indigent individuals to access to legal services in the Capital Region.

Albany Law School Diversity Mentorship Program
In October 2021, the Albany office began its annual Diversity Mentorship Program with Albany Law School. As part of the program, Barclay Damon attorneys mentor Albany Law School students from groups underrepresented in the legal profession. Thanks to Ben Wilkinson, Jen Cruz, Naresh Kannan, David Solimeno, Brad Gallagher, George Pond, Meaghan Murphy, Oksana Ludd, Brian Culnan, Amanda Miller, Jamie Dughi Hogenkamp, Michael Murphy, and Dena DeFazio for volunteering to be mentors!

New York Capital Region Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Fiesta4
The Albany office was a sponsor of the New York Capital Region Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Fiesta4, which raises money for education programs for Hispanic individuals and for opportunities for Hispanic-owned businesses in the Capital Region.
In Our Own Voices Unity Through Diversity: The Power of Unity 2021 Conference
Dena DeFazio was selected to be a speaker at Unity Through Diversity: The Power of Unity 2021 conference sponsored by In Our Own Voices. Her presentation was “Legal Considerations in LGBTQAI+ Health Care.”

BUFFALO

Victory Sports Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Heidi Ruchala serves on the board of Victory Sports Global Outreach, Inc., which had a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of its new location in Eastern Hills Mall in Williamsville, New York, on November 9, 2021. Click here to see a photo gallery from the ceremony.

Buffalo Community Day
On October 26, 2021, Barclay Damon’s Buffalo office partnered with FeedMore WNY for Community Day. Volunteers spent the afternoon working at the FeedMore WNY warehouse, packaging food to be distributed to local school children in need. FeedMore WNY is a combination of the Food Bank and Meals on Wheels programs in Western New York. Within the past year, their programs have distributed more than 16 million meals to homebound neighbors and through nearly 300 pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, and other hunger-relief agencies throughout Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus, and Chautauqua Counties. 

Minority Bar Foundation Virtual Scholarship and Awards Program 
October 26, 2021, members of Barclay Damon attended the Minority Bar Foundation’s Virtual Scholarship and Awards Program. Barclay Damon was also a sponsor of the event. This program recognized individuals in the Western New York legal community who have demonstrated a significant commitment to effectuating changes within the legal system that address the needs of the minority community and who have exemplified high standards of the profession by virtue of scholastic achievement and leadership.

2021 United Way Campaign
The Barclay Damon team of Ali Fatmi, Samantha Podlas, and Nancy Smith headed the 2021 Barclay Damon United Way Campaign, which raised over $17,300 for the United Way! All donations to the United Way help those in our community, including helping children reach their full potential, families achieve financial stability, and people live healthier lives. Thank you to everyone that participated.

MAJOR MARKETS

Join LEAP in Creating a New Haven for Our Children
Leadership, Education, and Athletics in Partnership, Inc. (LEAP) was founded in 1992 by educators, students, and community activists to address the historic disinvestment in young people of color in New Haven. College and high school student counselors provide LEAP’s direct services to younger children. They help with homework, provide emotional support, lead classroom literacy instruction, and teach swim lessons, cooking classes, and computer science. The neighborhoods served by LEAP have child poverty rates ranging from 35 to 58 percent, more than three times the Connecticut average of 15 percent. LEAP has recently been engaged to manage the newly reopened Dixwell Community House (Q House) and to operate the programs that will run there. In November 2021, LEAP participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony reopening the refurbished Q House. The original Q House was formed in 1924 and had a New Haven legacy firm member on its board until it closed almost 20 years ago. Ilan Markus provided pro bono bankruptcy representation at that time. Additionally, at the request of Barclay Damon’s Major Markets Diversity Leadership Team led by Penny Mason, Barclay Damon is sponsoring LEAP’S annual fundraising gala, the LEAP Year Event, which will take place on February 24, 2022.

New Haven County Bar Association Toys for Tots 
In partnership with the New Haven County Bar Association, Barclay Damon participated in the Toys for Tots drive. 

ROCHESTER

Bivona Holiday Lights Tour
This year, Barclay Damon once again sponsored the Bivona Holiday Lights Tour. The Bivona Child Advocacy Center partnered with some of the brightest and most festively decorated homes in the Rochester area to bring attendees a fun, socially distant and family-centered Bivona Holiday Lights Tour. Bivona offered a Sleigh Box, which included maps with routes of decorated homes, holiday treats, and festive family activities. 

Rochester Community Day
The Rochester office completed their Community Day at Conkey Corner Park. Their efforts focused on a variety of tasks to clean the park. They had a great turnout and their efforts made an immediate, visible impact. Will Macaluso, the Genesee Land Trust coordinator, was very appreciative of the Rochester office’s efforts, successfully prepping the park for Harvest Fest.

Z-Code Zones for EnCompass
Patrick Burke volunteered with EnCompass, which Barclay Damon partnered with for the Book Fairies Drive earlier in 2021. Patrick helped put together their Z-Code Zones—student-designed spaces that have a specific focus—in which students can work on developing skills to prepare for their future. He unpacked supply boxes; assembled desks, shelves, chairs, and furniture; set up wall hangings; and cut vinyl to place over their older windows.

SYRACUSE

Syracuse Annual Share the Warmth From Head to Toe Holiday Drive
Throughout the month of December 2021, Margaret Talt, who led the Syracuse Diversity Leadership Team in organizing the Share the Warmth From Head to Toe Holiday Drive, and John Sindoni collected over 50 items from the Syracuse office that were then donated to the Samaritan Center. John is a board member of the Samaritan Center. Here Margaret and John are pictured with Mary Beth Frey, the executive director of the Samaritan Center. 
 

ALBANY
Walk for Wildwood
Barclay Damon sponsored the Walk for Wildwood, which helps raise money to sustain Wildwood’s programming for over 3,000 individuals and their families with developmental disabilities in the Capital Region. Margaret Surowka and her dog participated in the walk, which took place on September 25, 2021.

Justice for All Campaign
David Cost co-chaired the Justice for All Campaign for the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York. This year’s campaign focused on mitigating the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on many families and ensuring that all area families had access to legal services to protect their rights. Barclay Damon was also, again, a lead campaign supporter of the campaign, which kicked off on September 30, 2021.

BOSTON, MA  |  NEW HAVEN, CT  |  NEW YORK, NY
LAA Housing Campaign
The New Haven office contributed to the New Haven Legal Assistance Association’s (LAA) housing campaign. In total, the campaign raised over $160,000. LAA will use the funds to increase staffing and serve New Haven residents facing eviction and homelessness. Barclay Damon supported the campaign by donating $2,000. Fundraisers’ generosity in contributing to the campaign was recognized on November 17, 2021, at a reception held at the Elm City Club in New Haven.

BUFFALO
Three Barclay Damon Attorneys Named to US District Court for the Western District of New York Pro Bono Honor Roll
Mike Ferdman, Megan Bahas, and Sarah O’Brien were recognized by Chief Judge Elizabeth Wolford and named to the inaugural US District Court for the Western New York Pro Bono Honor Roll for providing pro bono representation in the district from January 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021. Since April 1, 2020, the court has appointed pro bono counsel to eligible pro se litigants in over 30 civil cases.

Barclay Damon Plays Kickball to Support Spirited Athletes Bold at Heart (SABAH)
Ryan Altieri, Jonathan Atlikhani, Ari Goldberg, Liz Krajnik, Sarah O’Brien, and several non-Barclay Damon team members participated in the fifth annual Kickstock kickball tournament on August 28, 2021, to support Spirited Athletes Bold at Heart (SABAH). A SABAH athlete named Olivia, who was also the Barclay Damon team’s coach, helped the team reach the playoffs. Unfortunately, in a tiebreaker loss to New Kicks on the Block, the team didn’t make it to the semifinals. On a happy note, over $50,000 was raised to benefit SABAH.

ROCHESTER
34th Annual A Salute to Veterans Golf Tournament
On July 26, 2021, the foursome of Glenn Pezzulo, Michael Dehmler, Corey Auerbach, and Steve Tranelli (pictured left to right), participated in the 34th annual A Salute to Veterans Golf Tournament hosted by CDS Wolf Foundation in support of Warrior Salute Veteran Services at the historic Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, NY. Warrior Salute Veteran Services provides veterans with transitional housing and personalized support at no cost to the veteran.

DEI Award
This year, the annual Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award was presented to Cassandra Rich by Mark Whitford at the DEI State of the Firm event on October 20, 2021. The award is given annually to someone who demonstrates ongoing effort to support firm DEI initiatives and who embodies a spirit of welcoming and inclusion to others at the firm. Despite joining the firm right before the COVID-19 shutdown, Cassie was recognized for diving into the Rochester DLT and assisting in organizing efforts like a lunch ‘n’ learn on redlining discrimination, a collection effort for the Bivona Child Advocacy Center, and a local park cleanup for the Rochester office community day.

SYRACUSE
Barclay Damon Is a Pro Bono Champion!
Gabrielle Figueroa and Barclay Damon were selected by the Volunteer Lawyers Project of CNY as 2021 Pro Bono Champion Award winners. Gabby was honored with the Pro Bono Coordinator Award for her work coordinating pro bono services, and Barclay Damon was honored with the Family Court Clinic Award for our commitment to the Volunteer Lawyers Project of CNY’s Family Court Clinic. The awards were presented at the second annual Cheers for a Cause Fundraiser held on September 30, 2021.
 

ALBANY
Community Day With Wildwood 
On June 24, 20 volunteers from the Albany office participated in Community Day with Wildwood, an organization that provides supports and services to people of all ages with conditions described as developmental disabilities, complex learning disabilities, and autism spectrum disorders. Barclay Damon’s volunteers were Wildwood’s first in-person volunteers in over 15 months! At the first location, volunteers created a vegetable garden space at one of Wildwood’s residential programs in Schenectady, NY, and at the second location, volunteers did landscaping and lawn clean-up work at one of Wildwood’s residential programs in Albany. Amy Leisenfelder from Wildwood said, “Thank you ALL for such a fantastic day filled with new friends, sunshine, and A LOT of hard work!”

Timely Thought Leadership 
Dena DeFazio and Michael Sciotti co-authored the article “When an Employee Transitions: What Every Employer Should Know”  for USLAW Magazine. 

Happy Pride!
Barclay Damon and community partner In Our Own Voices, Inc. sponsored the 15th annual Say It Loud! Black & Latin@ Gay Pride.

BUFFALO
The Western New York 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge
The Buffalo and Clarence offices are participating in the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County’s 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge. This email series takes participants on a 21-day journey of learning and self-discovery that aims to develop more effective social justice habits around issues of race, power, privilege, and leadership. It also seeks to help participants develop a deeper understanding of how inequity and racism affect our lives and community. 

Thank You to Oliver Young!
Thank you to Oliver Young for his year of hard work and dedicated service as the president of the Bar Association of Erie County! Despite the challenging times, Oliver and the BAEC made diversity and inclusion more of a focus for the legal community this year. During Oliver’s tenure, the BAEC passed a resolution that calls for members to recognize and educate others on the effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on women attorneys, attorneys of color, and law students of color. The resolution also asked all attorneys to take the pledge to “Challenge Disparity, Build Diversity.” Thank you, Oliver, for all your efforts!

BOSTON, MA  |  NEW HAVEN, CT  |  NEW YORK, NY
Suffolk University Ambassadors for Inclusion Program
Sharon Brown participated in the Suffolk University Ambassadors for Inclusion five-week program from May 27 to June 24. The program covered the following content areas: diversity, equity, inclusion, intersectionality, allyship, history, and privilege and cultural competence (humility).

NYSBA Youth Law Day Preparations
Sharon also serves as a member of the New York State Bar Association Committee on Diversity and Inclusion and co-chairs the D&I Youth Law Day Subcommittee. Youth Law Day partners with NYS law schools to develop events and to recruit speakers that engage underserved high school students about the excitement of practicing law, the important contributions of attorneys, and the need for the legal profession to reflect the diverse communities it serves. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was not Youth Law Day in 2020 or 2021. Sharon and the Youth Law Day Subcommittee are gearing up for the 2022 Youth Law Day event. 

ROCHESTER
Bivona Child Advocacy Center Golf Tournament
On June 28, Mark Whitford and Nick Scarfone participated in the Bivona Child Advocacy Center Golf Tournament with firm clients from Leonard’s Express, Inc. Barclay Damon was one of the sponsors of the tournament, which raises money to support the agency’s mission to provide support services for abused children. 

EnCompass Book Fairies Program 
In May, the Rochester office participated in the EnCompass: Resources for Learning Book Fairies program. The goal was to place books and other literacy-related goodies into the hands of 500 elementary students in the city of Rochester. Many students do not have books at home and have limited access to school or public libraries (especially during the COVID-19 pandemic). Just before summer break, every student received a special visit from the “book fairies” and received a gift bag containing a craft kit, snack, journal, writing materials, and, of course, a book.

Virtual Lunch With 1L Summer Associate Theresa Oliver
Throughout the summer, Rochester attorneys have been participating in a virtual lunch program with 1L Summer Associate Theresa Oliver. Utilizing Smartsheets and Microsoft Teams, the program provides a one-on-one informal setting where Theresa can meet and foster relationships with our Rochester attorneys in these continued semi-virtual times. Seven Rochester attorneys have participated in this program thus far, providing key opportunities for Theresa to network and develop her legal knowledge and skills. 

SYRACUSE
Markus Paul Foundation Gold Tournament
Barclay Damon, Tim Green, and Tackle ALS were key sponsors of the first annual Markus Paul Foundation Golf Tournament on June 7. Markus was a former football teammate of Tim’s at Syracuse University, followed by five seasons playing in the NFL, and 22 years as a strength and conditioning coach for the Patriots, Giants, and the Cowboys, leading to five Super Bowl rings. Donations from the tournament have allowed the Markus Paul Foundation to provide a $10,000 scholarship to an Osceola High School student athlete, a $10,000 scholarship to a walk-on football player at Syracuse University, and a $10,000 donation to the Boys & Girls Club in Kissimmee, Florida. 

Syracuse Heart (Walk) Challenge Update
As part of the Syracuse Heart Challenge, Barclay Damon helped the American Heart Association raise over $326,000 in support of critical research and education programs that will impact generations to come. Barclay Damon was the matching gifts sponsor for the kickoff this year, bringing in nearly $8,000. Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2021 Syracuse Heart Challenge!
 

2021 Diversity 1L Summer Associate Program
Barclay Damon is pleased to welcome Kaitlynn Chopra (Albany), Qui'Essence Harris (Buffalo), Theresa Oliver (Rochester), and Autumn Burgin (Syracuse) as participants in our annual Diversity 1L Summer Associate Program. Please be sure to say hello and welcome if you see them in the office!

ALBANY
Welcome to Our Spring Intern Syeda Zahra
Through the Albany County Bar Association’s Diversity Internship Program, the Albany Office has a spring intern, Syeda Zahra, who is a 3L at Albany Law School. Syeda has worked with attorneys in multiple practice areas so far, and we are very happy to have her as part of the team.

Justice for All Campaign
Barclay Damon was again a proud sponsor of the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York’s Justice for All Campaign, which raises money to help fund access to legal services to help with unemployment, homelessness prevention, education, disability, and hundreds of other civil legal matters. David Cost is co-chair of the campaign, and many Albany attorneys made generous donations to continue to help support this worthy cause.

Top 40 Under 40 Black Lawyers in New York
Kadeem Wolliaston was selected for inclusion in the National Black Lawyers—Top 40 Under 40 Black Lawyers in New York list. 

BUFFALO
21 Day Diversity Learning Challenge
The Buffalo and Clarence offices participated in the 21 Day Diversity Learning Challenge that was coordinated by the Bar Association of Erie County. Participants were provided with information in various media formats covering a wide range of structural, institutional, and cultural aspects of racial diversity and injustice faced by Black Americans. It was presented through an online format over the course of 21 consecutive days. Though the challenge was intended to coincide with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the links are still active and anyone can take the challenge at any time. If you would like to take the challenge, contact Jen Leonardi for the link. 

RCJ Trivia Night
On March 25, 2021, Buffalo and Clarence attorneys participated virtually in Trivia Night to benefit the Erie County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP). The event was coordinated by Rising Champions for Justice (RCJ), which is a group of young professionals dedicated to furthering the VLP’s mission to provide free legal services to low-income people while gaining valuable board experience and professional development. Arianna Kwiatkowski, who was recently appointed to the Erie County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project Rising Champions for Justice Board, coordinated Barclay Damon’s participation in the event.

DEI Email to USLAW Diversity Council Steering Committee Leader
Peter Marlette was recently contacted by Mert Howard, partner at Hanson Bridgett and Steering Committee leader on the USLAW Diversity Council, encouraging the firm to get involved with the USLAW Diversity Council. Peter responded with an email outlining Barclay Damon’s ever-evolving DEI initiatives. 

BOSTON, MA  |  NEW HAVEN, CT  |  NEW YORK, NY
Holiday Giving
During the holiday season, individuals from Barclay Damon’s major markets offices contributed to a number of their favorite charities, such as local food banks and soup kitchens and area legal aid organizations. In lieu of holiday gifts to adult family members, some made donations to the charities the family members selected, such as Feeding America, Wounded Warriors, and Planned Parenthood. 

Galas for LeGaL and LEAP
Barclay Damon was a sponsor of two gala fundraisers for LeGaL and LEAP. Janice Grubin reported that the LeGaL gala was a huge success. Held virtually this year, several members of the firm attended the gala, which raised more money than last year. Penny Mason reported on the LEAP gala, which was held on the same night. LEAP, which stands for Leadership, Education, and Athletics in Partnership, is a program that works with New Haven’s inner-city children in after-school and summer programs and also trains young counselors and mentors. It was likewise virtual this year, with a reception featuring speakers who are founders, leaders, and students. This event also raised a record amount of money for LEAP’s work. Four major markets colleagues attended.

DEI Lunch ‘n’ Learn
On March 4, 2021, the firm held a lunch ‘n’ learn titled “Marriage Equality: From Outlaws to In-Laws” facilitated by Penny Mason and Janice Grubin. The lunch ‘n’ learn featured speakers Christopher R. Riano and Professor William N. Eskridge Jr. and covered same-sex-marriage aspects of topics ranging from the evolution of religion to sexuality, sex, and gender. The speakers are the authors of the book after which the lunch ‘n’ learn was named. 

Celebrating and Supporting Armenian and Lebanese Culture
Natalie Hajinelian, legal secretary, is a daughter and wife of Lebanese Armenian immigrants and was born and raised in Hawaii. She says, “I find it to be my responsibility to proudly represent the cultural diversity of my various origins.” Before the COVID-19 pandemic, she would celebrate her culture by partaking in cultural events and activities, such as dancing the kochari (a traditional Armenian dance), commemorating her Armenian ancestors who were victims of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 during April and especially on April 24, which is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, and sending care packages back home. Now Natalie focuses on supporting Armenian and Lebanese businesses by purchasing their products, including everyday items like soorj (Armenian coffee), zhourat (a Lebanese herbal tea blend), and arak (a Levantine unsweetened distilled spirit made from anise).

Natalie uses social media to amplify the voices of these businesses. She says, “Social media has become such a powerful tool, and through it, I have obtained the role of a social media activist for the people of Lebanon and Armenia. I report and repost businesses, products, news, petitions, on-ground NGOs, and donation centers. Having volunteered in these countries, I have always made sure to leverage my connections, and continuously work on bridging the gap between the two worlds.” 

ROCHESTER
Senior Capstone Project
Representatives from our Rochester office participated in the senior Capstone Project at the World of Inquiry School #58 (WOI). Each senior has to complete a two-semester process before graduation. During the second part of the process, they explore a topic of interest to them in depth and develop a project around that topic that contributes to the community. Unique to 2021, all Capstone Projects were presented via Zoom. Sanjeev Devabhakthuni, Matthew Paris, and Patrick Burke, office manager, volunteered for the morning panel session where each senior at WOI presented their proposals for review and approval to a committee that included a community member, a teacher, a junior from the high school, and a sixth grader from the middle school. Barclay Damon will be further involved in the Capstone Project as it develops throughout the school year, culminating in a final presentation of each project in May. Our work with WOI is part of our continuing Pipeline Initiative through the DLT. Feel free to contact any member of the Rochester DLT if you have any questions.

SYRACUSE
1L Diversity Mentoring Program
For the fourth consecutive year, the Syracuse office has continued its 1L Diversity Mentoring Program in partnership with the Syracuse University College of Law. This program takes place throughout the spring semester, with 20 mentees participating this year. The program connects firm attorneys with 1Ls from historically underrepresented groups within the legal profession. .

Syracuse Heart (Walk) Challenge
In lieu of an in-person Heart Walk this year, the American Heart Association is instead holding a month-long Heart Challenge. The Barclay Damon Walk Team entered into a friendly competition with the legal department of National Grid, who is also a sponsor and participant in the Syracuse Heart Challenge. The “battle of the companies” was to see who could get more people registered on their teams by March 31, 2021. Barclay Damon met its goal of registering 100 participants and has raised over $3,296! The teams will also compete to see who can get the most steps throughout April. In an email to Brenda Colella, Kristen Thompson Henry, director of the Syracuse Heart Challenge, said, “This challenge is sparking national attention at AHA! We will be highlighted in our next development newsletter nationwide!”
 
Wear Red Day and BD Tower Lit Up Red
On February 5, 2021, attorneys and staff in the Syracuse office supported the American Heart Association by wearing red to increase women’s heart health awareness and serve as a catalyst for change to improve the lives of women globally. Barclay Damon Tower was also lit up red for the occasion.
 

ALBANY

Albany Diversity Mentorship Program
Albany kicked off its Diversity Mentorship Program this year with the highest turnout of students ever and the highest number of attorneys from Albany participating. The meeting was the first-ever virtual kickoff.

Fourth Quarter Lunch ‘n’ Learn
Dena DeFazio gave a presentation called “Understanding Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Expression” as the fourth-quarter lunch ‘n’ learn from the Albany office.

BUFFALO

2020 United Way Campaign
This year our Buffalo and Clarence offices participated virtually in the 2020 Buffalo and Erie County United Way Campaign. Gifts to the United Way help the local community, including helping children reach their full potential, families achieve financial stability, and people live healthier lives. 

“Challenge Disparity, Build Diversity” Pledge
Attorneys in Buffalo and Clarence participated in a joint effort of the Bar Association of Erie County, Minority Bar Association of Western New York, Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York, and University at Buffalo Law Alumni Association to encourage attorneys to prioritize diversity and mitigate COVID-19’s effects in these difficult times. This included a challenge to each member of the legal profession to take a pledge to “challenge disparity, build diversity.” Read the pledge here.

Community Day/Bar Association of Erie County Yuletide Challenge Toy Drive 
The Buffalo and Clarence offices held a Community Day in support of the Legal Aid Bureau’s Attorneys for Children Unit. The Legal Aid lawyers, social workers, child advocates, and staff respond daily to the challenging and often heart-breaking life circumstances of the children they support. The Buffalo and Clarence offices collected toys for children involved in abuse and neglect proceedings in Erie County.

MAJOR MARKETS

Community Servings’ Pie in the Sky
Ben Carroll and Siobhan Tolan teamed up with Community Servings’ Pie in the Sky event to sell pies in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday. Each year, Pie in the Sky uses the proceeds from its annual holiday sale to prepare and deliver home-cooked meals to those in need throughout Massachusetts. Last year, Pie in the Sky raised $850,000, which provided a Thanksgiving meal to tens of thousands of critically and chronically ill Massachusetts residents. This year, Ben and Siobhan raised $1,600 for the Barclay Damon team, which made ours the top law firm team and the 19th team overall in Boston. Ben notes, “Many donated within Barclay Damon, including from the Upstate New York offices.”

ROCHESTER

Bivona Child Advocacy Center’s Holiday Lights Tour
Barclay Damon is sponsoring a holiday event organized by the Bivona Child Advocacy Center, which provides support and services for children experiencing child abuse. Bivona organized the tour with lighted homes in the Rochester area. In addition to the firm’s sponsorship of the event, the Rochester office raised more than $800 to support it. Funds will help children and families in the Rochester community this holiday season.

Foodlink for Community Day
The Rochester office teamed up with Foodlink for their Community Day this year. Foodlink is a regional food hub and the Feeding America food bank serving Allegany, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates counties. Their operations target the root causes of hunger and distribute food to a network of human service agencies, serving meals through their commercial kitchen and offering more than 30 food-related programs. The Rochester office donated over 135 pounds of food and more than $2,100.

SYRACUSE

Virtual Food Drive for Food Bank of Central New York
In lieu of its traditional Community Day activities and as part of Giving Tuesday, the Syracuse office hosted a virtual food drive in support of the Food Bank of Central New York. The Food Bank of Central New York partners with 282 emergency food programs in the counties of Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, and St. Lawrence. It works to eliminate hunger through nutritious food distribution, education, and advocacy in cooperation with the community. The Syracuse office raised $3,301 for the Food Bank of Central New York.

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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