2021 Grand Honors Award Winners Celebrated (Photos, Video)

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Albany Law School honored a group of standout graduates and friends on September 23, 2021 at the annual Grand Honors Awards, presented by the National Alumni Association.

With in-person reunion festivities postponed due to COVID-19, the ceremony was held primarily online with a small, in-person crowd.

The evening was emceed by the well-dressed President of the National Alumni Association the Hon. Peter Crummey ’81.

“You have supported our students, you have helped us grow, you have helped students. You have challenged some of what we’ve done in a way that makes us better,” said President and Dean Alicia Ouellette ’94 to the honorees. “You are inspirations to all of us. The work that you do matters.”

2021 Grand Honors Awards

Trustees Gold Medal
J.K. Hage III ’78
Managing Member, Hage & Hage LLC

Hage told the heartwarming story of his journey to Albany Law School as he accepted his award from by Board of Trustees Chair Deb Treyz '77.

His road to Albany Law initially started with an admissions rejection from the law school in 1972. He credited Helen Wilkinson, the school’s longtime registrar, as the reason he got his start...eventually. She wrote a note to him with the advice to not reapply unless he turned his grades around. So, after he finished a Master’s Degree, he came back in 1975 and spoke to Wilkinson again.

“When people ask me what Albany Law School means, that’s what it means. I know that the faculty and staff follow in the tradition of Helen Wilkinson. What you do for your students echoes around the world. [The fact] that an independent standalone law school can continue in this climate is nothing short of a miracle,” Hage said. “You learn that the best of you comes out because of your involvement with other people. Albany Law School teaches you that.”

Distinguished Alumni Award
Hon. Ryan T. Donovan ’01
Partner, Harris, Conway & Donovan, PLLC

“I was thinking about why I give back. I realized it’s because this is where I became an adult. This is where I learned so many things and I have so many fond memories of this institution,” Donovan said. “I learned how to be a professional. Because of the education I earned here, I have been able to become an equity partner at a small firm and work with two fellow alumni. I have been able to serve as town justice in my hometown for 15 years and hopefully make a difference in some way. I’ve been able to be an adjunct professor and give back to our students and hopefully counsel them in some way. Most importantly, my family started here. I met my wife here in the courtyard.”

Donald D. DeAngelis ’60 Excellence in Alumni Service Award
Patrick K. Jordan ’02
General Counsel, Port of Albany

“I quickly began to realize the impact that this school and being an alumnus would have on my life," Jordan said. Through an alumni connection, Jordan was recommended for his first job and later in his career, he met up with New York State Appellate Justice Bernard “Bud” Malone ’72 before Jordan began working there.

“He explained to me that Albany alumni look out for each other. Judge Malone walked me into nearly every chamber and introduced me to everyone. The best part of that way was meeting with Presiding Justice Anthony V. Cardona ’70 who became an instant friend and always looked after my wife and I. Albany alumni guiding me and helping me so early in my career made it easy for me to see, when I was asked to join the NAA, I was glad to. I’ve tried to pay it forward as best I can," Jordan said.

Outstanding Young Alumni Award
Renée L. Behrens ’12
Assistant Counsel, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles

“Albany Law School means a lot to me. I am able to have such a meaningful connection to the school because they invite me back very often. Thank you to the NAA for nominating me. Thank you to Albany Law for giving me a leg up in the legal community," Behrens said. “To any other alums who are out there and thinking about giving back, please come back and join us. There are so many students who would love to have a dynamic mentor."

Humanitarian Achievement Award
Lillian M. Moy
Executive Director, Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, Inc.

“Thank you. I am so proud to be an honorary alumna and to be recognized by the National Alumni Association," Moy said. "Thank you to my colleagues and so many members of my board—many who are actually alums—who bring everything they to do good at the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York. ”

About the National Alumni Association Awards

The Trustees Gold Medal, first awarded in 1966, is the highest accolade bestowed by Albany Law School and is given to an individual who has demonstrated a record of exemplary support and dedication to the advancement of Albany Law School. This award is presented by the Board of Trustees from nominations provided by the National Alumni Association Board of Directors. The distinguished list of Trustees Gold Medal honorees includes Warren M. Anderson ’40, Domenick L. Gabrielli ’36, Hon. Robert J. Sise ’49, Prof. David D. Siegel, Donald R. DeAngelis ’60, Hon. Harry J. D’Agostino ’55, Peter M. Pryor ’54, James N. Benedict ’74, E. Stewart Jones Jr. ’66, Edward P. Swyer, Daniel P. Nolan ’78, the Hon. Bernard J. Malone Jr. ’72 and the Hon. Randolph F. Treece ’76.

The Distinguished Alumni Award, created in 1998 to recognize an individual’s continuous record of service to Albany Law School, is the highest honor bestowed by the National Alumni Association Board of Directors. The award criteria include, but are not limited to, outstanding professional accomplishment, sustained engagement, and continual support of Albany Law School. Past recipients include Donna E. Wardlaw ’77, Hon. Randolph F. Treece ’76, Hon. Joseph C. Teresi ’71, Hon. Mary O. Ricci ’83, Hon. Victoria A. Graffeo ’77, VADM Barry M. Costello ’81, Peter C. Kopff ’75, Frank L. Fernandez ’80, Hon. Katherine M. Sheehan ’94, Hon. Thomas J. Vilsack ’75, Lisa A. Whitney ’71, Stephen P. Younger ’82, Hon. Bernard J. Malone Jr. ’72, Hon. Michael J. Garcia ’89, and Hon. Leslie E. Stein ’81. Dale M. Thuillez ’72 received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2020.

The Donald D. DeAngelis ’60 Excellence in Alumni Service Award, created in 1989, recognizes outstanding dedication and commitment to alumni, to the National Alumni Association, and to Albany Law School. It was named in honor of Donald D. DeAngelis, Class of 1960, who served as the first president of the National Alumni Association Board of Directors, a member of the Albany Law School Board of Trustees, and an associate editor of the Albany Law Review, among other contributions to the law school. Recipients join a notable list of past honorees, including: Richard D. Parsons ’71, Prof. Francis H. Anderson ’47, Dean Martin H. Belsky, Daniel P. Nolan ’78, Dianne R. Phillips ’88, John J. Yanas ’53, Hon. Erik E. Joh ’70, Prof. Michael J. Hutter Jr., Berta Hernandez-Truyol ’78, Hon. Andrew M. Cuomo ’82, Hon. Bernard J. Malone Jr. ’72, Donna E. Wardlaw ’77, Richard A. Reed ’81, Robert G. Lyman ’69, William E. Redmond ’55, Mary Ann A. Cody ’83, Barbara D. Cottrell ’84, John M. Bagyi ’96, Harold C. Hanson ’66, Larry P. Schiffer ’79, Ruth E. Leistensnider ’88, Keiki-Michael Cabanos ’97, Amy J. Kellogg ’02, and Robert A. Rausch ’94. Thania F. Fernandez ’85 received the DeAngelis Award in 2020.

The Outstanding Young Alumni Award, first presented in 1990, is given to alumni who have graduated within the past 10 years and have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to Albany Law School through consistent volunteerism and engagement. Previous honorees include Louis Cristo ’84, Stephen P. Younger ’82, Richard J. Miller Jr. ’89, Lee H. Wasserman ’83, Barbara D. Cottrell ’84, Gregory V. Serio ’86, Patricia E. Salkin ’88, Hon. John L. Sampson ’91, Christopher R. Lyons ’88, Hon. Glen T. Bruening ’89, Cynthia A. Platt ’89, Gina M. Stevens ’90, Monica L. Kreshik ’94, Hon. Richard M. Platkin ’93, Patricia D. DeAngelis ’94, Molly A. Wilkinson ’96, Hon. Christine M. Clark ’96, Keiki-Michael Cabanos ’97, Hon. Ryan T. Donovan ’01, Laura M. Jordan ’03, David A. Rozen ’10, Javid Afzali ’12, Matthew J. Laroche ’10, Adam W. Silverman ’08, and Samantha G. Howell ’10. Emily C. Chapman ’13 (Drazan) received the Outstanding Young Alumni Award in 2020.

The Humanitarian Achievement Award, created in 2019, recognizes the extraordinary humanitarian contributions of an individual in the community who dedicates their time and legal expertise to improve quality of life and fight indifference, intolerance, and/or injustice through providing pro bono services, engaging in activism, supporting legal education, improving the delivery of legal services, and beyond. Previous honorees include Hon. Elizabeth A. Garry ’90 and M. Sherry Gold and the Gold Family.