Eastern Brooklyn

CALA hosts its first gala to celebrate legal excellence in Brooklyn

July 1, 2024 Robert Abruzzese, Courthouse Editor
From left: Michelle Stoddart, senior vice president of community development and public service, Resorts World New York; Charles Small, chief clerk for civil matters, Kings County Supreme Court; Hon. Sylvia Hinds-Radix, president of the Caribbean American Lawyers Association (CALA); and the Hon. Michele Rodney, judge of the NYS Court of Claims, with their CALA awards. Eagle photo by Robert Abruzzese
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On June 26, 2024, the Caribbean American Lawyers Association (CALA) celebrated its first gala at El Caribe in Mill Basin, Brooklyn, a significant milestone for the relatively new bar association.

Founded during the COVID-19 pandemic by a group of influential lawyers, including Hon. Sylvia Hinds-Radix and Yvette Hinds-Wills, the president and vice presidents, respectively, CALA was created to provide a representative body for Caribbean-American legal professionals in New York City. 

His Excellency Dennis Francis, president of the 78th Session of the U.N. General Assembly, saying a few words after receiving his Lifetime Achievement award. Eagle photos by Wayne Daren Scheiderman
His Excellency Dennis Francis, president of the 78th Session of the U.N. General Assembly, saying a few words after receiving his Lifetime Achievement award. Eagle photos by Wayne Daren Scheiderman

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, which initially limited events to Zoom, the association has grown and held a successful gala attended by nearly 300 attorneys and judges last Wednesday.

The CALA gala honored several distinguished individuals: Judge Sylvia Hinds-Radix received the Founders Award; Charles Small, Esq., chief clerk of the Kings County Supreme Court, Civil Term, received the Outstanding Public Servant Award; Dennis Francis received the Lifetime Achievement Award; Judge Michele S. Rodney was named Outstanding Jurist of the Year; and lawyer Michelle Stoddart was honored with the Outstanding Community Service Award.

Justice Hinds-Radix, the president and one of the founders of CALA, played a pivotal role in establishing the association to support Caribbean-American legal professionals in New York City. With a distinguished career in law, she has served as an Associate Justice of the NYS Appellate Division, Second Department, and as Administrative Judge for Civil Matters in the Second Judicial District.

From left: The Hon. Ruth Shillingford; the Hon. Sylvia O. Hinds-Radix; inaugural president of CALA (holding her Founders award); and Rudyard Whyte, CALA’s chairman of the board. Eagle photo by Wayne Daren Scheiderman
From left: The Hon. Ruth Shillingford; the Hon. Sylvia O. Hinds-Radix; inaugural president of CALA (holding her Founders award); and Rudyard Whyte, CALA’s chairman of the board. Eagle photo by Wayne Daren Scheiderman

Her career in the judiciary began with her election to the Supreme Court, Kings County, in 2004, following her tenure as a New York City Civil Court Judge. Judge Hinds-Radix has also been a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion within the legal profession, serving in various leadership roles within numerous legal organizations.

Judge Hinds-Radix holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Massachusetts, a master’s degree in political science from Long Island University, and a Juris Doctorate from Howard University School of Law. She resides in Brooklyn with her husband and their three daughters.

Small serves as the chief clerk for civil matters in the Kings County Supreme Court. Appointed to the position by then-Administrative Judge Hinds-Radix, Small has had a significant impact on the administration of justice in Brooklyn. He began his career in the New York State Unified Court System in 1991 and has held various roles, including senior court clerk and associate court clerk.

Small is a graduate of the State University of New York, Empire State College, with a bachelor of science in business administration, and Brooklyn Law School, where he earned his Juris Doctorate. He is known for his commitment to diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, having received several awards for his contributions.

Judge Rodney, named Outstanding Jurist of the Year, serves on the NYS Court of Claims. Appointed in 2018, she has a long-standing commitment to justice and civic engagement. Judge Rodney was previously the dean of the School of Criminal Justice at Monroe College and has extensive experience as a prosecutor and legal educator.

From left: the Hon. Sylvia O. Hinds-Radix, inaugural president of CALA; Michelle Stoddart, senior vice president of community development and public service, Resorts World New York (with her Outstanding Community Service award); and Rudyard Whyte, CALA’s chairman of the board. Eagle photo by Wayne Daren Scheiderman
 From left: the Hon. Sylvia O. Hinds-Radix, inaugural president of CALA; Michelle Stoddart, senior vice president of community development and public service, Resorts World New York (with her Outstanding Community Service award); and Rudyard Whyte, CALA’s chairman of the board. Eagle photo by Wayne Daren Scheiderman

Stoddart, the senior vice president of community development and public affairs at Resorts World New York City, was honored with the Outstanding Community Service Award. In her role, Stoddart manages community relations and corporate philanthropy, supporting more than 200 nonprofit organizations in the New York metropolitan area.

Francis received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his distinguished career in diplomacy. With approximately 40 years in the diplomatic service of Trinidad and Tobago, Francis has held numerous significant positions, including permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva and chairman of various international committees.


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