Over 500 Albany Law School alumni, students, faculty, staff, friends, and family members gathered on campus and virtually to celebrate Reunion 2022 from Sept. 15-17.
The weekend kicked off with the Grand Honors Awards where five alumni and friends of the law school were honored for their career achievements and service to the community.
Trustees Gold Medal
James E. Kelly ’83 - Trustee Emeritus, Albany Law School Board of Trustees; Founding donor, Albany Law School Wellness Initiative
Formerly General Counsel at Dime Bancorp, Inc., throughout his career Kelly worked as a financial and legal executive and Board member in the banking and asset management industries in New York City. As a three-term member of the Board of Trustees, Kelly chaired the Trustees’ Long Range Planning Committee from 2009 through 2013, and was involved in the development of the Opportunity Pathways strategic plan adopted by Albany Law School in 2014. During his time on the Board, he also helped to stabilize the outlook for the school during the economic downturn for law schools in 2010 through 2015, serving as Vice Chairman of the Board during that period, from 2013 to 2015.
“There are two takeaways I have from the whole experience. One, it’s about the people. It’s always about the people at Albany Law, it always has been and they make each other better,” he said. “My second is that no one is irreplaceable, we come and go and the parade marches on. Albany Law School continues to develop and produce great leaders and great alumni. I want to thank you very much, I am very humbled and very honored,” he said.
Distinguished Alumni Award
Renee Z. Merges ’83 - Retired Assistant District Attorney with the Albany County District Attorney’s Office
After being a mom, stepmom, wife, sister, and daughter, Merges said: “The greatest honor and privilege of my life is the opportunity Albany Law School and the DA’s office has given me to work with our students alongside our awesome Albany Law School field placement colleagues, Career Center colleagues, and fellow ADAs.”
Donald D. DeAngelis '60 Excellence in Alumni Service Award
BJ Costello III ’72 - Senior Counsel at Hinman Straub
Costello is Senior Counsel at Hinman Straub PC. He represents clients before the New York State Legislature, Governor’s Office and state regulatory agencies. He specializes in Board governance issues for not-for-profit corporations. He is a long-time member of the Government Law Center Advisory Board and currently serves as Chair.
“It is a great pleasure to serve the firm’s clients using the great skills I learned at Albany Law School. Our firm has employed hundreds of Albany Law School graduates and provided continuous service to the law school,” he said.
On the Government Law Center: “This is a place where students are exposed to all aspects of government service. It is a jewel of Albany Law School,” he said.
Outstanding Young Alumni Award
Benjamin P. Pomerance ’13 - Deputy Director for Program Development for the NYS Division of Veterans’ Affairs
While at Albany Law, he founded and directed the school’s Veterans’ Rights Pro Bono Project, a group that continues pro bono efforts for veterans to this day.
“That is where I saw first hand how the law can help people who are facing challenges, life challenges, and struggling. And then how attorneys—navigating whatever field of law happened to be at issue—led quite often to a highly successful outcome that changed a veteran’s life,” he said.
Humanitarian Achievement Award
Edward P. Swyer ’18H President of the Swyer Companies
Swyer is President of the Swyer Companies, a real estate company that owns and manages commercial developments in the Capital District, including Stuyvesant Plaza. Most recently, The Swyer Family Foundation helped establish the Community Development Clinic within The Justice Center at Albany Law School.
“Albany Law School has such extraordinary professors and staff. I am inspired every time I talk with them and meet with them,” he said.
The following afternoon alumni and friends celebrated the launch of the John P. DeMatteo Memorial Scholarship. DeMatteo, the law school’s longtime maintenance supervisor, was a confidant and mentor to many over the years. He hired several students to help him maintain the 1928 Building and many of them returned to Albany Law to share their best memories.
The scholarship effort was spearheaded by Bill Pulos ’80, who gave a heartfelt speech to the crowd that included current rugby players, alumni, and DeMatteo’s family.
“John DeMatteo, the ‘beating heart’ of Albany Law School for so long, now has a memorial scholarship in his name. As long as Albany Law School exists, this scholarship will ensure his legacy,” Pulos said.
Also that afternoon, the current Albany Law Review editorial board held an open house for journal alumni in their offices on Friday evening. Editors past and present shared memories of their time on the journal.
The evening concluded with TGIF – An Albany Law Tradition! The beloved tradition of mingling and toasting at the end of the week returned to the courtyard for alumni, students, staff, and faculty to enjoy.
Saturday started with the return of the traditional rugby games between students and alumni.
Later that day in downtown Albany, members of the Class of 1972 were welcomed as the newest Senior Partners of Albany Law School at the Senior Partners Brunch held at the Fort Orange Club.
Many of the newest Senior Partners also enjoyed a guided tour of the USS Slater following brunch.
Back on campus, the Albany Law community enjoyed another Reunion tradition, the Celebration Picnic! The entire law school community gathered in the revamped green space between Albany Law School’s 2000 Building and the Gozzo Student Center.
During the weekend it was announced that The Class of 1972 won the awards for highest reunion class giving (as of Sept. 29). It also had the highest class donor participation, and the highest reunion attendance. The runner-up class for attendance was the Class of 1992 and the runner-up for participation was the Class of 1967.
Reunion weekend wrapped up with concurrent celebration dinners. The Class of 1972 gathered at Schuyler Meadows Country Club to honor their 50th Reunion year. Alumni and friends from all other classes celebrated at 677 Prime in Albany.