Category Archives: 2016 Gala Honorees

Donahue Peebles

Trailblazer of the Year: R. Donahue Peebles
Founder, Chairman and CEO of the Peebles Corporation

DonahuePeeblesRecognized as one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the nation, R. Donahue Peebles is Founder, Chairman and CEO of The Peebles Corporation, one of the country’s few national privately held real estate investment and development companies with a multi-billion dollar portfolio of projects in New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Boston, Miami and Miami Beach.

In addition to his role as CEO of The Peebles Corporation, Mr. Peebles is a top-selling author (The Peebles Principles and The Peebles Path to Real Estate Wealth), a regular guest on CNN, CNBC and FOX, and a highly sought-after speaker who has addressed educational, business and professional audiences across the United States.

Mr. Peebles is an avid supporter of mentoring to expose youth to the value of entrepreneurship, as well as an active political supporter and fundraiser for local, state and federal campaigns of both major parties. He is currently the Chairman of the Board of the Congressional Black Caucus, serves on the Board of Directors of YMCA of Greater New York and Miami-Dade County Mayor Gimenez’s Business Roundtable, served on the National Finance Committee of President Barack Obama, and is former Chairman of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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Carl E. Heastie

Public Servant of the Year: The Honorable Carl Heastie
Speaker of the New York State Assembly

heastieCarl E. Heastie is the first African American to serve as Speaker of the New York State Assembly, elected by his Assembly colleagues on February 3, 2015.

In his first budget as Speaker, he worked closely with members of the Assembly Majority to develop a financial plan that made an historic $1.8 billion investment in the education of our students, addressed the homelessness crisis facing our communities and gave working families the resources they need to achieve financial independence. Speaker Heastie is committed to fighting for the reforms and investments that will strengthen our families and uplift all New Yorkers.

Speaker Heastie represents the 83rd A.D. in the northeast Bronx and was first elected to the Assembly in 2000. As a member of the Assembly, he has been one of the leading advocates for the construction of new schools and his vigilance has led to the development of several new schools in his district. In addition, he has secured significant funding for housing, education, after school programming, health and human services, jobs readiness and computer training for constituents.

Amongst his many legislative achievements, Speaker Heastie was a principal negotiator in securing an increase in the minimum wage that took effect January 1, 2014. He was also successful in negotiating increases in unemployment insurance benefits, which had been stagnant since 1998. He was the prime sponsor of the Wage Theft Prevention Act which provided stiffer penalties for employers that steal wages from employees.

Speaker Heastie scored a victory for public health when he championed the passage of a law that prohibited the sale of water containing nicotine to children under 18 years old. He also authored a law to help victims of domestic violence by releasing them from lease obligations if it is found that remaining in the residence would keep the victim in a dangerous environment.

Prior to joining the Assembly, Speaker Heastie served as a budget analyst in the New York City Comptroller’s office where he researched, prepared and authored reports on the City’s spending patterns. He earned a master’s degree in business administration with a concentration in Finance from Bernard M. Baruch College (CUNY) and a bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics and Statistics from Stony Brook University (SUNY).

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Marguerite Grays

Jurist of the Year: Honorable Marguerite Grays
Eleventh Judicial District and Presiding Justice - Commercial Division

JudgeGrays
Honorable Marguerite A. Grays Deputy Administrative Judge for Civil Matters Eleventh Judicial District New York State Supreme Court - Queens County

Hon. Marguerite A. Grays received her undergraduate degree from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She received her Juris Doctorate from Hofstra University School of Law.

Justice Grays began her legal career as a Staff Attorney at Queens Legal Services, where she represented indigent clients in the local community. Thereafter, she worked as a Staff Attorney at 1115 Pre-Paid Legal Services. In 1987, her legal career path lead to the Unified Court System where she held the positions of Law Assistant for New York City Civil Court Judge Albert J. Grant and, thereafter, Principal Law Clerk for New York State Supreme Court Justices Joscelyn E. Smith and Frederick D.R. Sampson.

In November 2000, Justice Grays was elected Judge of the New York City Civil Court, Queens County. She served in that capacity until her election in November 2002 to the New York State Supreme Court, Queens County, where she presently sits. In the Fall of 2005, Justice Grays was selected as one of the first two Justices to preside over the Queens County Commercial Division. Justice Grays is the Presiding Justice of the Queens County Commercial Division, and the Residential Foreclosure Part. In 2015, she was appointed as the Deputy Administrative Judge for Civil Matters, Eleventh Judicial District.

Justice Grays is Chairperson of the Judicial Committee on Women in the Courts of the Queens Supreme Court, Civil Term; Secretary for the New York Chapter of the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ); a member of the Board of Trustees for the Law Library of Queens County, 11th Judicial District - Supreme Court; a member of the Board of Directors for the Judges and Lawyers Breast Cancer Alert (JALBCA); a committee member of the Judicial Hearing Officer Selection Advisory Committee for the Second Department; Co-Chairperson of the Nominations Committee of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY); Chairperson, Board of Trustees, Queens County Women’s Bar Association (QCWBA); a member of the Scholarship Committee for the Queens County Bar Association; a member of the Queens College Paralegal Advisory Board; and a member of the Statewide Foreclosure Working Group. She has also held the positions of past President and Board of Director of the Association of Black Women Attorneys (ABWA); past Chairperson of the Women In the Law Committee for the Queens County Bar Association; former member of the New York State Lawyer’s Assistance Trust Judge Advisory Panel, appointed by former Chief Judge Judith Kaye; and City Co-Chair of Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman’s Access to Justice Task Force, Simplification Committee, Foreclosure Subcommittee. Justice Grays was also the first African-American President of the Queens County Women’s Bar Association.

Justice Grays is a member of Queens County Women’s Bar Association, Metropolitan Black Bar Association, Queens County Bar Association, National Association of Women Judges, New York City Supreme Court Justices Association, New York State Supreme Court Justices Association, and American Bar Association.

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Kathlyn Card Beckles

2016 Corporate Counsel of the Year
JP Morgan Chase

Kathy Card Beckles serves as the General Counsel for Card Services at JPMorgan Chase, which issues one of largest credit card portfolios in the world. She leads the teams responsible all legal issues relating to Credit Card, Digital and Chase Commerce Solutions.  Prior to this role, she led the global intellectual property team that oversaw patents, trademarks, copyright, trade secrets as they relate to JPMorgan, including litigation, brand protection, licensing and IP strategy.

Kathy has previously served as counsel for Tech for Social Good, a technology based philanthropy group for projects such as creating a digital archive at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Non-Violence.  In 2013, she was recognized by Inside Counsel Magazine as an R3-100 – an in house talent monitor that identifies 100 women ready to become general counsel in the next 3 years.  In 2014 she was awarded a Trailblazer Under 40 Award, by the National Bar Association.  In 2015, Kathy was honored as a Black Achiever in Industry by the Harlem YMCA.

Her prior legal experience includes the law firm of Kenyon & Kenyon, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the Chambers of the Hon. Edward Damich of the Court of Federal Claims.  Before her legal career, Kathy held positions in analytical chemistry at Cytec Engineered Materials and process engineering at Frito Lay.  She holds a law degree from The George Washington University, where she graduated with honors.  Kathy also holds a Chemical Engineering degree from the University of Delaware, where she will be this year’s keynote speaker at the College of Engineering’s RISE student achievement convocation.

In her personal life, Kathy is board member and co-founder of the TEHEKA scholarship, which supports women studying engineering.  She is a past board member of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, is a Steering Committee member of the JPMC Corporate Sector Women’s group, teaches Sunday School at Abyssinian Baptist Church, and is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.  Kathy resides in Harlem, NY with her three vivacious children and very patient and supportive husband.

Granny, Ding, Mom and Dad, thanks for everything. 

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Jeanine Conley

2016 Private Practitioner of the Year
Baker Hostetler

JeanineConleyJeanine Conley, an experienced trial lawyer and member of the firm's employment group, represents many of the nation’s leading companies in employment-related disputes and workplace investigations. She has also represented clients before a variety of government agencies, both at the state and federal levels. Conley regularly conducts employment trainings for clients in all industries, particularly the manufacturing, retail, financial services and media and entertainment industries on a wide-range of fair employment issues, including Title VII anti-discrimination, harassment and retaliation policies, the Family Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and various whistleblower laws, including Dodd-Frank. Conley further provides daily advice and counsel to clients on employment, compliance and regulatory issues that arise from hiring to termination. Through her experience as a trial lawyer, Conley is able to efficiently and effectively strategize with her clients to resolve employment disputes through the best possible means for the client by obtaining favorable settlements, dismissal of actions through summary judgment or full defense verdicts at trial.

Along with her successful employment practice, Conley is extremely active in her community and is on the Executive Committee of the New York Urban League and the Executive Board of the Network of Bar Leaders. She is past president of the Association of Black Women Attorneys and past chair of the New York City Bar's Committee on Minorities in the Profession. She has also been recognized by numerous organizations for her work, and is the recipient of the Chambers Women in Law: “Outstanding Contribution to Furthering the Advancement of Minority Lawyers” Award, the Network Journal's "40 Under Forty" Award for 2013 and the New York City Bar's Diversity Champion Award in 2011, along with others.

Along with her successful employment practice, Conley is extremely active in her community and is on the Executive Committee of the New York Urban League and the Executive Board of the Network of Bar Leaders. She is past president of the Association of Black Women Attorneys and past chair of the New York City Bar's Committee on Minorities in the Profession. She has also been recognized by numerous organizations for her work, and is the recipient of the Chambers Women in Law: “Outstanding Contribution to Furthering the Advancement of Minority Lawyers” Award, the Network Journal's "40 Under Forty" Award for 2013 and the New York City Bar's Diversity Champion Award in 2011, along with others.

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