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New York City Bar Association Announces 2015 Diversity & Inclusion Champion Award Winners

The New York City Bar Association will present its 2015 Diversity & Inclusion Champion Awards at the Diversity and Inclusion Celebration Dinner on June 11th. The award recognizes the critical role individual attorneys have played in initiating and sustaining change within their organizations and the overall New York legal community. The award recipients embody the New York City Bar’s Statement of Diversity Principles, which defines diversity as an inclusive concept, encompassing race, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion, nationality, age, disability and marital and parental status. This year marks a decade of recognizing Diversity and Inclusion Champions.

The 2015 Diversity & Inclusion Champion Award winners are:

Kathy Hirata ChinPartner, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP
Kathy Hirata Chin is a partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP. She is a member of the litigation group specializing in healthcare and real estate issues. Ms. Chin graduated from Princeton University magna cum laude and Columbia Law School, where she was Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Trasnational Law. She served as Commissioner on the New York City Planning Commission from 1995-2001 and is currently a Commissioner on the New York City Commission to Combat Police Corruption, a position she has held since Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed her in August 2003. She has served on Governor Mario Cuomo’s Judicial Screening Committee for the First Department, the Gender Bias Committee of the Second Circuit Task Force, former Chief Judge Judith Kaye’s Commission to Promote Public Confidence in Judicial Elections, and the Second Circuit Judicial Conference Planning and Program Committee. She currently serves on the Attorney Emeritus Advisory Council and the Commercial Division Advisory Council, appointed to both by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, and on the Board of Directors of the Medicare Rights Center, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping older adults and people with disabilities access affordable health care. In December 2012 and again in December 2014, she was nominated for appointment to the New York State Court of Appeals by the New York State Commission on Judicial Nomination.

Hon. Fern Fisher – Deputy Chief Administrative Judge, New York City Courts and Director, New York State Courts Access to Justice Program
Justice Fisher’s career started in the Civil Court as a Legal Services attorney practicing in Manhattan Housing Court. She served as Deputy Director of Harlem Legal Services, Inc. and as an Assistant Attorney General of the New York State Department of Law. For four years, she provided pro bono legal services to Harlem-based community organizations as a project director of the National Conference of Black Lawyers. In 1989, she was appointed Judge of the Housing Part of the Civil Court, and later, in 1990, was elected to the Civil Court where she served as Deputy Supervising Judge. Judge Fisher was elected in 1993 to the Supreme Court of the State of New York. After serving in both the City and the Matrimonial Parts of Supreme Court, in December 1996 she was appointed Administrative Judge of the Civil Court where she served until March 2009 when she was appointed to her current position. Justice Fisher is a founding member of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, a member and past Board member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, and the New York County Lawyers Association. In 2006, Harvard Law School awarded her the Gary Bellow Public Service Award. In 2008, she was appointed to the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services. Justice Fisher received her B.A. summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa in 1975 from Howard University and received her J.D. in 1978 from Harvard Law School.                  

Darryl Gibbs – Lead Director and Associate General Counsel, AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company
Darryl W. Gibbs is a Lead Director & Associate General Counsel at AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company, a financial services company. He leads the legal department’s internship and mentoring program and activities and he is a major strategic supporter and influencer of AXA’s overall diversity and inclusion efforts both inside and outside the legal department. Prior to AXA, Darryl worked at the New York law firm Proskauer Rose as an associate in the corporate department. He later worked as an Assistant General Counsel in the law department of Safe Horizon, Inc., the nation’s leading victims assistance agency. Darryl is a 2009 alumnus of the Executive Leadership Council – Strengthening the Pipeline Program and a member of Council of Urban Professionals (CUP). He is also a Board Member of several organizations, including The Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development at St. John’s University School of Law, the Metropolitan Black Bar Association (New York City), and St. John’s University School of Law Alumni Association. Darryl is the recipient of the New York State Bar Association 2014 Diversity Trailblazer Award. He earned his undergraduate degree in marketing at the Brooklyn Campus of Long Island University and his law degree from St. John’s University School of Law

Taa Grays – Assistant General Counsel and Chief of Staff to the General Counsel, MetLife
Taa has served as the Chief of Staff to MetLife’s General Counsel since 2010, where she works closely with him and his leadership team to identify, document and communicate Legal Affairs’ initiatives. She also manages a team responsible for providing a wide-range of operational support for the Legal Affairs department. She is active in several committees at MetLife, including the Legal Affairs Diversity Committee. Taa started with MetLife in 2003 in the Litigation Section, where her practice handled various federal and state lawsuits and regulatory complaints stemming from MetLife’s US Business and Investment activities. She also coordinated and oversaw MetLife’s e-discovery responses to regulatory, pre-litigation and litigation matters as the eDiscovery Counsel and managed a cross-functional team that managed MetLife’s discovery obligations. Prior to MetLife, Taa was an Assistant District Attorney with the Bronx District Attorney’s Office in its Rackets Bureau for five and a half years. She is also very active in the legal community and holds leadership positions with several organizations, including president of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association. Taa received her A.B. from Harvard College and her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

The 2015 Trailblazer award winner is:

Anna L. Brown Special Attorney/Director of Global Diversity & Inclusion, Shearman & Sterling LLP
As Special Attorney/Director of Global Diversity & Inclusion, Anna L. Brown is responsible for the development and implementation of the firm’s global diversity and inclusion initiative, and serves as the Executive Director of Shearman & Sterling’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Ms. Brown is a frequent lecturer and panelist on topics related to diversity and inclusion in the legal profession; including serving, for the past eight consecutive years, as the Program Co-Chair of the Practising Law Institute Annual Law Firm Diversity Symposium, and at the NALP Annual Conference, New York City Bar Association Diversity Conference, NALP Diversity Summit, Minority Corporate Counsel Association Creating Pathways to Diversity Conference, the American Conference Institute, ACLEA Annual Conference, Equal Justice Conference, Women In Law Empowerment Forum, New York Law Journal Diversity Roundtable, and ALI-ABA Professional Development Institute, among other speaking engagements. Ms. Brown is the co-author of “Diversity in Action: A Manual for Diversity Professionals in Law,” a new publication designed as a resource and educational tool for those performing diversity roles in law firms and corporate legal departments. She is a graduate cum laude of Howard University School of Law and is admitted to practice in New York and New Jersey.

Tickets to the Celebration Dinner may be purchased on the City Bar’s website. For further information please contact Clare Plunkett at (212) 382-6772 or cplunkett@nycbar.org.