Fall Semester 2022
Mount Vernon High School, Mount Vernon, NY
Hon. Keisha J. Espinal Supervising Judge, Criminal Court Kings County
“It is important to me to reach out to our youth and give them an opportunity to see what is possible in their lives. Growing up, I didn’t know or see any Afro-Latinos lawyers or judges. I was not able to dream that I could ever be a judge! I’m hoping that by speaking to them I can let them know that their possibilities are endless. The Youth is our future and it is important to help them see that they are capable of doing whatever it is they want to do. They are our future! Speaking to the students was an honor and a privilege. They were so engaged and curious! Speaking to them showed me that not only is their future bright, they can and will also rise up and make us all proud!”
Bronx School for Law Government & Justice, Bronx NY
Julissa Gomez-McGhie, Assistant Principal & Basil Manolakos, J.D., Civil & Criminal Law Dept.
Hon. Sallie Manzanet-Daniels Associate Justice Appellate Division, First Dept. New York State Supreme Court
Reflections: It is always a joy to return to LGJ. As a LGJ supporter and advisor, since the schools inception, I am delighted to engage with these students whenever I get an opportunity. The school program they are privileged to participate in provides extraordinary exposure to the field of law and I am proud of our association’s collaboration with this exceptional Bronx institution. Their students are intellectually curious, savvy and fully engaged. They inspire me!
Hon. Jenny Rivera
Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals
Reflections: It was a wonderful opportunity to speak to the students, share my experiences and answer their questions. I especially enjoyed getting questions in the “chat” and explaining why serving as a judge is meaningful and fulfilling. LJA is providing an important service to our diverse communities.
Hon. Connie Mallafre Melendez, Supreme Court Justice, Kings County
Reflections: Every time I speak to students I am reminded that there is a real need to guide and give direction to so many students in high school as they make decisions that affect their futures. As they ask questions, it becomes apparent that the LJA High School Speaker Series serves to fill a void left by their dedicated teachers and parents, as we give them practical tips and set examples to motivate their choices. I am always filled with a sense of hope each time I speak with students.
Clara Barton High School, Brooklyn, NY
Hon. Manuel Mendez, Associate Justice, Appellate Division, First Department NYS Supreme Court
Reflections: I believe that reaching out to these students, when they are of an impressionable age, is an essential worthwhile endeavor of the LJA and I commend the association for it. It was very satisfying to engage in a dialogue with these young men and women in their native Spanish language. It is good for them to see that we are not very different from them; that as immigrants we also come from humble beginnings and that it takes hard work, discipline and perseverance to reach our goals, achieve our dreams and advance in this world. I hope that my life story, and message, will inspire many of them to consider a legal career. I look forward to again participating in this LJA Speaker Series in the future.
Tottenville High School Academy of Law & Justice
Partner: Rosalia A. Tierno, Assistant Principal Humanities and Pedagogy
Hon. Frances Ortiz, Housing Court, New York County
Reflections: I was privileged to meet with students of Tottenville High School Academy of Law & Justice located on Staten Island. I must say that the thought of capturing the attention of a large group of teenagers regarding my path to the judiciary gave me some pause. However, during the presentation the students surprised me with their extremely proactive participation. There was a sudden shift from a monologue to a dialogue. Then I was able to breath in a sigh of relief. The dialogue continued with lots of great questions which I encouraged. I shared with the students the personal challenges and successes I experienced. I wanted the to know that with hard work and dedication anyone can achieve a judicial path similar to mine. I ended the presentation sensing that I had accomplished that goal. Their faces and expressions showed enthusiasm toward a future in perhaps a legal career. To the extent that my meeting with them had the slightest impact on encouraging their future career goals then I can proudly conclude: “Mission accomplished!”
Spring Semester 2022
Bronx School for Law Government and Justice
Julissa Gomez-McGhie, Assistant Principal & Basil Manolakos, J.D., Civil & Criminal Law Dept.
Hon. Alicia Elloras-Ally, Family Court, New York County
Hon. Javier Vargas, Family Court Judge, Kings County
Hon. Jessica Bourbon, Family Court Judge, Bronx County
Reflections: I had the great pleasure to speak to student at the Bronx School of Law, Government and Justice. I spoke to the students about Family Court and the court system. They were attentive, focused and very interested in learning about the court system.
Port Chester High School, Port Chester, NY
Hon. Fiordaliza Rodriguez, Family Court Judge, Bronx County
Reflections: I am very grateful to the LJA for the opportunity to speak in Spanish to the students that participated in the High School series. I brushed up on my Spanish skills and had a great time speaking to the students. They were shy initially, but later followed up with questions about the stories I shared. I would love to speak to them again.
Conselyea Prepatory Middle School 577
Hon. Connie Mallafre-Melendez, Supreme Court Justice, Kings County
Reflections: what a thrill to speak to eighth graders and to see and hear their enthusiasm during our conversation. I was impressed with their curiosity and interest in the law. They were serious and attentive which surprised me given their age. It made me very happy for the opportunity to reach out to middle-schoolers.
Fall Semester 2021
Ossining High School
Partners: Gregg Ninos, Civil Law Teacher & Brian Prince, Social Studies Teacher
Hon. Connie Morales, Civil Court Judge, Bronx County
Reflections: Speaking with the students was inspiring! They were engaged and asked thoughtful questions. They reminded me that at one point we were all hopeful, ambitious and anxious to change the world. This group made it clear they would be involved, mindful and impactful. It was a privilege to have interacted with them. I am excited for their prospects as they will be successful in whatever field they choose.”
December 16, 2021
Charter School of Educational Excellence:
Hon. Elena Goldberg-Velasquez. City Court Judge, Yonkers, NY
I had a wonderful and insightful time speaking to students in the community I was elected to serve informing them of what a judge does on a daily basis, giving them tips on how to become a judge and achieving their dreams. It is so important for us, as judges, to maintain engagement in the community and held build a pipeline of students who may become attorneys or judges in the future.
Bronx High School of Law, Government & Justice
Bronx High School Partners: Julissa Gomez-McGhie, Assistant Principal and Basil Manolakos, J.D., Civil & Criminal Law Dept. of Law
Hon. John Howard Algarin, Civil Court Judge Bronx County – October 25, 2021
Reflections: I recently had the pleasure of participating in a virtual exchange with students at the High School of Law, Government and Justice in the Bronx. As a primer for our lively discourse, the dynamic group of students had prepared questions in advance on subjects ranging from my reason for becoming a judge to the toughest cases over which I have presided. The theme of the discussion was “getting to the next level”, which contemplated a slow progressive journey toward what may be a lofty professional goal at this moment in time, and the fundamental skills to develop to help them get there. It is always an honor to invest in their lives.
Hon. Patria Frias-Colon – Civl Court Judge, Kings County – October 26, 2021
Reflections: I know that young people are our future and I keep this in mind when deciding how to volunteer my time, which like many of you is very limited. It is imperative that we share our diverse journeys with our young people because to “to whom much is given, much is required.” I was excited to share my journey with students from the Bronx HS for Law, Government and Justice. I was candid with them and they seemed to respond well to that. It is these types of volunteer opportunities that remind us that we should give more to this world than we take and for those of us in the legal profession, we must practice “law in the service of human needs” (CUNY Law’s motto).
Hon. Linda Mejias-Glover Court of Claims – October 28, 2021
Reflections: “Having the opportunity to speak to students, and in particular the students in the Bronx School for Law, Government & Justice, is always privilege and honor. The students in the class I spoke to were engaged and inquisitive, which made the experience that much more enriching for not just them, but for me especially. It is important for me to not only share my personal struggles and biography, but also to provide practical, specific and useful advice regarding education and professional opportunities. It was an absolute pleasure to be able to share my personal and professional experiences, and I can only hope that I had a positive impact on at least one young person. Thank you, LJA for giving me and these students this opportunity.”
Hon. Lisa Headley – October 28, 2021
Reflections: Nothing short of amazing is what I will call my experience today. The students were so excited and engaging. There was a moment when I became sad talking about my husband when answering the question about family support. One of the students thanked me for sharing and being so honest. At that moment I realized again why it is important to share out stories with the younger generation. They can learn that no matter who you are or how much you have achieved, challenges will come that can be overcome. I was reminded that there are those in our younger generation who have empathy and they should be applauded for it. The students deserve to meet us, learn from us, and know that they too can be whatever it is in life that they want to be.
Hon. Cynthia Lopez – March 16, 2022
Reflections: Today I met with students from the Bronx High School of Law, Government & Justice who are sophomores finishing a course study in Family Court. My experience with the class was beyond amazing. The students asked very detailed, relevant and thought provoking questions. They had a true interest in knowing the key aspects of Family Court and Child Welfare case. The students were attentive, engaged and interested. I could tell by the questions they presented to me that they have a true passion for this work and a desire to understand not only the day-to-day functions, but the emotional and human piece of Family Court. I can’t wait to do it again!
Port Chester High School Partners: Carmen Rosario – Social Worker, Yudelca Martinez – Bilingual School Counselor and Joseph Gilson – Chair, Social Studies Department.
Hon. Lisette G. Fernandez – January 25, 2022
As an Ecuadorian-born jurist, it was a privilege and honor to speak to Port Chester High School students. Cognizant that this high school has a large population of new Americans, I welcomed the opportunity to speak candidly with them about our shared experiences. Despite anti-immigrant rhetoric in America, I wanted these students to know that the American Dream lives and that it can be achieved through hard work and perseverance. I acknowledge the importance of academia, but I also impressed on the students the significance and impact of mentorship and networking. I will never forget how their faces lit up when I discussed the many doors mentorship and networking opened for me. After reading the students’ post-forum comments, I was gratified and humbled to learn that they left with feelings of empowerment and hope for future success. Thank you to the LJA and to Judge Mallafre for creating a forum to engage with our next generator of leaders.