Category Archives: 2017 Gala Honorees

Honorable William F. Kuntz

Jurist of the Year
United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of New York

William Francis Kuntz II is a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Born in New York, New York, Kuntz earned an Artium Baccalaureus in 1972 from Harvard College. He then earned an Artium Magister in 1974 and a Doctor of Philosophy in 1979 from Harvard University and a Juris Doctor in 1977 from Harvard Law School.

From 1978 until 1986, Kuntz was an associate in the New York law firm Shearman & Sterling. From 1986 until 1994, Kuntz was a partner in the New York law firm Milgrim Thomajan Jacobs & Lee, and from 1994 until 2001, Kuntz was a partner in the New York law firm Seward & Kissel. From 2001 until 2004, he was a partner in the New York office of the Canadian law firm Torys LLP, and from 2004 until 2005, he was counsel at the New York law firm Constantine & Cannon.

From 2005 until becoming a federal judge, Kuntz was a partner in the New York office of the law firm Baker Hostetler. His specialty is commercial and labor litigation. Prior to his appointment to the EDNY, Mr. Kuntz was the New York City Council’s designee from Kings County to the Civilian Complaints Review Board from October 1993 through 2010.

On March 9, 2011, President Obama nominated Kuntz to fill a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York that became vacant when Judge Nina Gershon took senior status in 2008.

The United States Senate confirmed Kuntz by unanimous consent on October 3, 2011. He received his judicial commission the following day.

Kuntz's wife, Dr. Alice Beal, is the director of palliative care for the New York Harbor Healthcare System Veterans Administration. They live in Brooklyn, New York, where they are members of the parish of the Brooklyn Oratory of St. Boniface.

Kuntz's son, Will, is the Director of Player Relations & Competition for Major League Soccer.

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Nate Saint-Victor

Trailblazer of the Year
Executive Director, Morgan Stanley

Nate is an Executive Director at Morgan Stanley where he provides legal advice to the Wealth Management division on broker-dealer and investment advisory issues with a focus on research, development and distribution of alternative investments. Previously, Nate practiced in the Investment Management Group at Davis Polk. Since 2009, Nate has served on the SIFMA Alternative Investments Roundtable and previously served on the Investment Adviser/Broker-Dealer Task Force, Investment Advisory Committee and the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Board Business Model Working Group.  Nate regularly speaks on issues related to securities laws, diversity and inclusion and professional development.

Nate mobilizes resources for innovation and change within the legal profession through his leadership positions with the Alliance of Securities and Financial Educators (ASAFE), the Council of Urban Professionals (CUP), Legal Outreach, the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF), and the NYC Bar Association. Nate is on the Executive Council of the Group and serves as an adviser to 1844.

Nate is a former Chair of the Morgan Stanley Legal and Compliance Division Diversity & Inclusion Committee, a 2015 National Bar Association “40 Under 40,” a 2015 CUP Catalyst Change Agent in Law, and a 2009 CUP Fellow. Nate also enjoys mentoring through LEAD, PALS and Legal Outreach and was recognized by Legal Outreach as an “Elder of the Village,” the organization’s highest honor.

Nate recently co-authored the “Power of Partnering” article, describing best practices for majority and minority or women owned law firms to co-partner on meeting client needs. The article is available at the NAMWOLF website.

Nate graduated from Duke University, where he co-founded the Duke Business and Investment Clubs, and Georgetown Law, where he served on journal, the award-winning Frederick Douglass Moot Court team and as President of the Black Law Student Association.  

Nate lives in Lower Merion, Pennsylvania with his wife, Christina, and their two year old heart, Regina Claire, aka “Baby Pi”.

And, Nate is the best Spades player that you will ever meet. As the three-time, undefeated Champion since the creation of the competition, he looks forward to defending his title again at the 2017 MBBA Golf and Spades Tournament. If you don’t know, you better ask somebody.

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Alphonso B. David

Public Servant of the Year
Counsel to the Governor

Alphonso DavidAlphonso B. David is an attorney, law professor and policy advisor with significant litigation and management experience in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors.

In 2015, Mr. David was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to serve as Counsel to the Governor. In this role, he functions as the Governor’s chief counsel and principal legal advisor, and oversees all significant legal and policy deliberations affecting New York State including evaluating proposed legislation; implementing laws and policies; and formulating the State’s posture in both affirmative and defensive litigation.

Prior to his appointment as the Governor’s Chief Counsel, Mr. David served for four years in the Governor’s cabinet as the Deputy Secretary and Counsel for Civil Rights, the first position of its kind in New York State. In this capacity, he was responsible for a full range of legal, policy, legislative, and operational matters affecting civil rights and labor throughout the State. Mr. David also previously served as Special Deputy Attorney General for Civil Rights for the Office of the New York State Attorney General, where he managed up to a dozen Assistant Attorneys General on a variety of investigations and affirmative litigation, including employment and housing discrimination, fair lending, reproductive rights, and anti-bias claims. Further, he previously served as Deputy Commissioner and Special Counselor at the New York State Division of Human Rights.

Prior to working in the public sector, Mr. David served as a staff attorney at the Lambda Legal Defense and Educational Fund. At Lambda Legal, Mr. David litigated precedent-setting civil rights cases across the nation affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals as well as those living with HIV. He handled both affirmative and defensive matters relating to marriage, parenting rights, discrimination in schools, and access to health care. In addition, Mr. David served as a litigation associate at the law firm Blank Rome LLP. He began his legal career as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Clifford Scott Green in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

For the past decade, Mr. David has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law. He began his work in academia with Fordham University Law School and most recently with Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, teaching ‘‘Constitutional Law: Sexuality and the Law.’’

Mr. David is a graduate of the University of Maryland and Temple University School of Law.

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Damien Atkins

Corporate Counsel of the Year
General Counsel and Corporate Secretary,  Panasonic Corporation of North America

Damien Atkins serves as General Counsel and secretary of Panasonic Corporation of America, the principal North American subsidiary of Panasonic Corporation and the hub of Panasonic’s U.S. branding, marketing, sales, service and R&D operations. He is the company’s chief legal advisor and is responsible for providing Panasonic North America and its affiliate with legal, compliance and public affairs services.

Before joining Panasonic, Mr. Atkins was Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer of AOL Inc. Mr. Atkins joined AOL from Chadbourne & Parke LLP, where his practice focused on a wide variety of mergers & acquisitions, capital markets and securities law matters.

Mr. Atkins has been recognized for his extensive experience in managing in-house legal teams in securities regulation, mergers & acquisitions, corporate governance, employment, employee benefits, executive compensation, facilities and global compliance.

In 2016, Mr. Atkins was seleced as the General Counsel of the Year by New Jersey Business Journal and a Diverse Attorney of the Year by the New Jersey Law Journal. Mr. Atkins is a member of the Rutgers University Center for Corporate Law and Governance advisory board. He was also included on Savoy Magazine’s “Most Influential Black Lawyers 2015 List”. In 2013, he was selected as the Corporate Governance Professional of the Year in 2012.

Mr. Atkins graduated from New York University School of Law and holds a bachelor's degree in History from Stanford University.

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Joseph M. Drayton

Private Practitioner of the Year
Partner, Cooley LLP

Joseph Drayton's practice background includes a broad range of intellectual property and complex commercial matters. He is experienced in patent litigation, trademark and copyright usage, trade dress, design patents and false advertising.

Joe also counsels clients in all aspects of intellectual property acquisition, transfer, protection and enforcement. He has represented leading companies in the media, telecommunications, banking, private equity, pharmaceutical, electronics and retail industries. He practices before both state and federal courts, as well as the International Trade Commission. He has been a lead member of numerous patent trial teams, including four over the past few years. He has handled temporary restraining orders, preliminary injunctions, all facets of motion practice and complex discovery.

Joe has been recognized as one of the top patent attorneys in the US. Recently, he was named to the IAM Patent1000 list, a recognition that honors the top patent practitioners in the world. In 2015, he was named one of the "most influential black lawyers" by Savoy Magazine. He has also been recognized by the New York City Bar Association with the 2014 Diversity and Inclusion Champion Award. In 2010, he was named among the National Bar Association's "Nation's Best Advocates: 40 Lawyers Under 40."

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