Kurt M. Denk to Lead City Bar Justice Center
Kurt M. Denk will become the new Executive Director of the City Bar Justice Center, effective March 1, 2021, the New York City Bar Association announced today.
He succeeds Lynn M. Kelly, who announced her departure after 13 years of growth and stellar leadership of the nonprofit, legal-services affiliate of the New York City Bar Association.
Denk has served as the Justice Center’s Pro Bono Counsel for the past three years, building and strengthening relationships with law firms, in-house legal departments, solo lawyers, students and other stakeholders to support and staff pro bono cases from the Justice Center’s dozen civil legal services projects that assist 26,000 low-income New Yorkers each year. Most recently, he has been integrally involved in the Justice Center’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, including in the launch of its Covid-19 Small Business Remote Legal Clinic and other pandemic response initiatives. He’s also worked with the Justice Center team and community partners to develop innovative interdisciplinary legal services programming and initiatives to advance racial equity and access to justice, and has developed and delivered Continuing Legal Education courses in a variety of areas, including in diversity, inclusion and the elimination of bias for pro bono attorneys.
“Kurt was already among the vanguard in New York’s pro bono community before coming to the City Bar Justice Center, and his hand in the Justice Center’s achievements over the past several years make him a natural choice to lead the organization,” said David Levine, Board Chair of the City Bar Fund, of which the City Bar Justice Center is the largest component, and General Counsel at Bloomberg LP.
“We are fortunate and excited to have someone with Kurt’s skills, experience, passion and wisdom to take the Justice Center through its next phase in this unprecedented time of volatility and need for New York’s underserved communities,” said Bret Parker, Executive Director of the City Bar and Vice President of the City Bar Fund’s Board.
Prior to joining the Justice Center, Denk practiced general civil and complex commercial litigation at Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, where he maintained an active pro bono docket on behalf of diverse clients and causes, such as representing asylum seekers and public benefits recipients and co-drafting amicus briefs in support of marriage equality and other LGBTQ rights matters, including before the U.S. Supreme Court. He received a 2017 Jeremy G. Epstein Award from the Justice Center for outstanding pro bono work, and pro bono recognition from Kramer Levin, The Legal Aid Society, the New York State Bar Empire State Counsel Program and Legal Services NYC.
Denk is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law; has an M.A. in Philosophy from Fordham University; a Masters in Divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology; and a B.A. in History from Georgetown University, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. Following law school, he clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and taught at Boston College Law School. He also has taught at Fordham School of Law and Loyola University Maryland, and has worked in ministry and restorative justice programs at San Quentin State Prison in California.
Asked to reflect on his appointment, Denk noted that “we inhabit a unique historical moment, when hoped-for COVID-19 recovery and political reconciliation will ring hollow if it is not tethered to deep, searching and tangible movement towards greater racial equity and social justice, including and especially in the legal sector. Leaders in this moment, both at the City Bar and at other entities serving the public good, will need to collaborate with both tenacity and humility; challenge the status quo and engage previously-excluded voices; and creatively marshal resources while building community. It’s a challenge I am excited and prepared to take up alongside my Justice Center colleagues and our many valued partners throughout New York’s legal community.
About the City Bar Justice Center
The City Bar Justice Center increases access to justice by leveraging the resources of the New York City legal community. The Justice Center operates the city’s largest civil legal hotline and annually provides direct legal representation, information and advocacy to over 25,000 poor and vulnerable New Yorkers in areas including immigration, veterans assistance, homelessness, trusts and estates, cancer advocacy, and elderlaw. www.citybarjusticecenter.org