Downtown

Brooklyn Surrogate Court hosts first employee appreciation lunch

June 10, 2024 Moira Weinstein
Judge Rosemarie Montalbano (right) serves a bowl of pasta with her homemade sauce to staff members, while Judge Bernard Graham looks on. The Employee Appreciation Lunch, held in Room 319 of the Brooklyn Surrogate Court, is the first event of its kind aimed at recognizing the hard work of court staff and interns. Eagle photos by Robert Abruzzese
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In an effort to foster camaraderie and recognize the hard work of their staff, Brooklyn Surrogate Court Justices Hon. Rosemarie Montalbano and Hon. Bernard Graham hosted an employee appreciation lunch at the Brooklyn Surrogate Court. The event, which took place in Room 319, marked the first of its kind and included former and current interns.

Diane Matero (center in blue), Court Attorney Referee and Internship Program Coordinator, stands with all current and former interns of the Brooklyn Surrogate Court. Matero's internship program, modeled after her experience in Queens, has been a significant success. Eagle photo by Robert Abruzzese
Diane Matero (center in blue), Court Attorney Referee and Internship Program Coordinator, stands with all current and former interns of the Brooklyn Surrogate Court. Matero’s internship program, modeled after her experience in Queens, has been a significant success. Eagle photo by Robert Abruzzese

Judge Montalbano, known for her culinary skills, prepared and served homemade pasta to attendees. “I want to recognize what the interns mean to me. I hope they walk away with experience,” Montalbano said. “I’m Italian; we like pasta.”

Judge Graham explained Judge Montalbano’s unique approach to fostering a supportive environment within the court. 

“Judge Montalbano has a secret weapon: she turned this court around with food,” Graham said. He emphasized that her habit of sharing homemade meals has significantly contributed to creating a safe and welcoming workplace.

A shot of two pots on the stove, with the pot in the foreground containing Judge Montalbano's famous vodka sauce. Eagle photo by Robert Abruzzese
A shot of two pots on the stove, with the pot in the foreground containing Judge Montalbano’s famous vodka sauce. Eagle photo by Robert Abruzzese
A close-up shot of Judge Montalbano's homemade marinara sauce. Eagle photo by Robert Abruzzese
A close-up shot of Judge Montalbano’s homemade marinara sauce. Eagle photo by Robert Abruzzese

The event also celebrated the contributions of Diane Matero, Court Attorney Referee for Montalbano and coordinator of the Internship Program. Matero shared her own experiences, explaining how her internship with Judge Peter Kelly at Queens Surrogate Court inspired her to start a law practice, which she ran for nine years before joining the New York State Court system. Matero has since developed a successful internship program at the Brooklyn Surrogate Court, modeled after her experience in Queens.

“I wanted to give that experience to other law students,” Matero said. “It’s a full circle moment.” 

Judge Montalbano serves a court employee during the Employee Appreciation Lunch. Eagle photo by Robert Abruzzese
Judge Montalbano serves a court employee during the Employee Appreciation Lunch. Eagle photo by Robert Abruzzese

The program has become so effective that hiring has been conducted exclusively on a referential basis for over a year. Matero’s efforts to mentor the next generation of legal professionals were a focal point of the appreciation lunch.

Linda LoCascio, principal law clerk for Montalbano, expressed her deep appreciation for the judge. 

All employees of the Brooklyn Surrogate Court gather for a group photo during the Employee Appreciation Lunch. The event highlights the importance of camaraderie and recognition within the workplace. Eagle photo by Moira Weinstein
All employees of the Brooklyn Surrogate Court gather for a group photo during the Employee Appreciation Lunch. The event highlights the importance of camaraderie and recognition within the workplace. Eagle photo by Moira Weinstein

“It’s my honor and pleasure to work for her,” LoCascio said, noting Montalbano’s kindness and dedication to her team.

Nathaniel Hargett, who has worked at 360 Adams St. for 28 years in various capacities, including administration, probate, adoptions, and fingerprints, was honored as Employee of the Month. 

Judges Montalbano and Graham present Nathaniel Hargett with a plaque honoring him as Employee of the Month. Hargett has worked at 360 Adams St. for 28 years in various capacities, including administration, probate, adoptions, and fingerprints.
Judges Montalbano and Graham present Nathaniel Hargett with a plaque honoring him as Employee of the Month. Hargett has worked at 360 Adams St. for 28 years in various capacities, including administration, probate, adoptions, and fingerprints. Eagle photo by Robert Abruzzese

“It makes me feel that people are noticing the great work that a person does,” Hargett said. “I like to help people get through a difficult time in their life. It’s nice to see them leave happy after being distraught.”

Judge Montalbano and Judge Graham expressed their gratitude to all employees, hoping to make the employee appreciation lunch an annual event to continue recognizing and fostering the supportive environment within the Brooklyn Surrogate Court.


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