Brooklyn Bar Association honors four, including Gregory Cerchione at annual awards
The Brooklyn Bar Association honored four people during its annual awards ceremony in Brooklyn Heights on Wednesday including past president Gregory Cerchione, who received the Distinguished Service Award.
The other honorees included Stephen Z. Williamson, Ian J. Gaynor and Armida Alarcon. They each received a plaque during a ceremony in front of nearly 150 members of the bar association.
The immediate past president of the BBA, Aimee Richter, served as the mistress of ceremony for the event. When she presented Cerchione with his award, she mentioned that he played a vital role in helping her as president, especially after executive director Avery Eli Okin took an extended absence for health-related reasons.
“A good part of our presidency was spent without our fearless leader, Avery Eli Okin, and beginning in February my job got a lot harder than I anticipated,” Richter said. “Although I had the help of many of my board members, past presidents and friends, it was Gregory Cerchione who stepped up to the plate when I needed him most.
“I spoke with him several times a day, and every morning, to help me navigate the many issues that came along the way. It was Greg who showed me how to be a true leader and how to handle myself.”
Cerchione, a past president of the BBA, the Columbian Lawyers Association of Brooklyn and the Catholic Lawyers Guild, talked about the importance of the bar association in his career and recalled his father, a former member himself, encouraging him to join after he passed the bar in 1986.
“Our bar remains one of the most vibrant and largest county bar associations in the country, and my professional path was in many ways paved by the opportunities offered by the Brooklyn Bar,” Cerchione said.
Williamson, of the Law Office of Stephen Z. Williamson, P.L.L.C., and a board member at the BBA Volunteer Lawyers Project, received the Freda S. Nisnewitz Award for Pro Bono Service. When introducing him, Richter explained that even after knowing him for so many years she was still shocked by his resume.
“Since 2012, he has coordinated the Speakers Bureau Program at the Brooklyn High School for Leadership and Community Service, a transfer school for at risk teenagers in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn,” she said. “Steve also serves as the Brooklyn Community Service board of directors, is the BBA Volunteer Lawyers Project chair, vice president of the Jewish Lawyers Guild, and is chair of CLE courses at the New York City Bar Association.”
Ian J. Gaynor, clerk in charge of Kings County Matrimonial, received the Hon. Nathan R. Sobel Award. During his speech, he talked about his parents’ passion for public service and pointed out that he is a second-generation court employee.
“Ian has gone through many of the main areas of the courthouse with a stop at law school along the way,” Richter said. “He took three years to get a law degree and kept working along the way. I have tremendous respect for that. Now he’s chief clerk of the matrimonial part which is near and dear to me as a matrimonial practitioner and I know that’s not an easy position.”
Finally, BBA President David Chidekel introduced Alarcon, who won the Legal Staff Award. Chidekel, whom Alarcon works for as a paralegal, joked about the coincidence that he was able to honor one of his own employees and promised that she wouldn’t win again next year. He was quick to point out how deserving she was, though, as she volunteers at her church in Sunset Park and in various political campaigns.
“A proud member of the Brooklyn community, a person who has worked hard, and has multiple jobs,” Chidekel said of Alarcon. “She put herself through school to become a paralegal and is now in the medical field as well.”
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