Hon. Victoria A. Graffeo, Class of 1977, and William F. Collins, Class of 1976, received the 2006 Albany Law School Distinguished Alumni in Government Award last week at a reception at the Governor's Mansion in Albany.
The Albany Law School Distinguished Alumni in Government Award is presented by the Alumni in Government Group annually to an alumna and/or alumnus of Albany Law School who has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to public service, a superior record of career accomplishments, has made outstanding contributions in the area of government and public service.
Counsel to the New York State Assembly Majority since 1998, William F. Collins, received his J.D. from Albany Law School in 1976. Shortly after graduation he joined the N.Y.S. Department of State, Division of Community Affairs, Legal Services Bureau. In 1979, after a brief stint in the Office of Lieutenant Governor Mario Cuomo, he joined the Governor's Office of Employee Relations and rose to the position of deputy counsel. During the administration of Governor Cuomo, he was appointed as Deputy Commissioner of the Labor Department (in 1983) and Deputy Commissioner and Counsel to the Department of Taxation and Finance (in 1987). In 1995, he left government to join the firm of Bond, Schoeneck & King, LLP in Albany, N.Y. After two years, he returned to public service as the Assembly's Director of Tax Studies until Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver promoted him to counsel in 1998. He has been an active member of Albany Law School's Alumni in Government Group and serves on the school's Government Law Center Advisory Board.
Associate Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, Victoria A. Graffeo received her J.D. from Albany Law School in 1977. Her tenure with the court commenced in December 2000 after she was nominated by Governor George E. Pataki and confirmed by the State Senate. Her judicial career began in September 1996 when she was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court in the Third Judicial District. In March 1998, Governor Pataki appointed her to the Appellate Division where she was a member of the Third Department until her appointment to the Court of Appeals. Judge Graffeo has experience working in all three branches of government. Prior to her judicial positions, she served as Solicitor General for New York State for former Attorney General Dennis C. Vacco. She also spent ten years working in the State Legislature, eventually holding the position of Chief Counsel to the Assembly Minority Leader. She began her career in government service as Assistant Counsel to the State Division of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse. Before entering the public sector, she practiced with a law firm in Colonie, NY, where she engaged in civil and criminal litigation in state and federal courts. She is a member of the Albany Law School National Alumni Association Board of Directors, received the 2002 Distinguished Alumni Award, and presented the 2003 Commencement Address.
Previous recipients of the Albany Law School Distinguished Alumni in Government Award include Leonard A. Weiss '48, former Commissioner for the New York State Public Service Commission; Hon. Randolph F. Treece '76, United States District Court Magistrate for the Northern District of New York; Hon. James P. King '59, Government Lawyer in Residence at Albany Law School's Government Law Center; Michael J. Hoblock, Jr., '67, member, New York State Racing and Wagering Board; Hon. Anthony Cardona '70, presiding justice, Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court, Third Judicial Department; and Hon. Warren Anderson '40, former New York State Senate Majority Leader.