Brooklyn Boro

Metropolitan Black Bar Association honors Judge Kuntz during awards gala

May 25, 2017 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor
Paula Edgar, MBBA President and Founder and Principal of PGE LLC; federal court judge William Kuntz; and Sandra Bookman, WABC-TV New York Reporter. Photos by Rowena Husbands/Blink Of An Eye Photography Online
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The Metropolitan Black Bar Association (MBBA) held its 33rd annual Anniversary Awards Gala and honored Brooklyn Federal Court Judge William Kuntz during a ceremony at Pier 60 in Manhattan on Friday.

“Friday, nearly 600 attendees came out to celebrate the impact of the MBBA over the past year and to hear about how they can engage to help the legal diversity pipeline via supporting scholarships and other initiatives from the ‘Backpack to the Boardroom,’” said MBBA President Paula Edgar.

The MBBA, a citywide bar association of African-American and other minority lawyers, raised more than $40,000 with the event that will be used by the organization’s charitable arm.

This year’s theme was “Building the Legal Diversity Pipeline: From the Backpack to the Boardroom.” Sandra Bookman of WABC-TV New York served as the mistress of ceremonies.

The honorees included judge Kuntz, U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of New York; Nate Saint-Victor, executive director at Morgan Stanley; Damien Atkins, general counsel and corporate secretary for Panasonic Corporation of North America; Joseph Drayton, a partner at Cooley LLP; and Alphonso David, counsel to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Kuntz received the prestigious Jurist of the Year Award.

“Judge Kuntz was selected because of his reputation as an excellent jurist and for his dedication to the MBBA as a lifetime member,” Edgar said. “His career trajectory has epitomized the journey from the Backpack to the Courtroom.”

The MBBA also recognized former Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson and Hon. Sheila Abdus-Salaam, of the NYS Court of Appeals, both of whom died over the last year.

“We were honored to receive a significant donation to our charitable fund from Lu-Shawn Thompson, widow of Ken Thompson, in honor of her husband,” Edgar said. “We were proud to announce the renaming of our annual Backpack Giveaway. Going forward, it will be called the Honorable Sheila Abdus-Salaam Annual Backpack Giveaway.”

Edgar, who is entering her second year as president of the MBBA, talked about her theme for the upcoming year — innovation, mentoring, partnership, advocacy, community and training.

Kathlyn Beckles, of JP Morgan Chase and Jeanine Conley, of Littler Mendelson PC, both served as co-chairs of the gala.


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