Richard Anthony Celestin is a graduate of The City University of New York School of Law. While at CUNY Law, he focused his studies on criminal defense and juvenile justice. Prior to entering law school and since becoming an attorney, he has directed his work towards underrepresented and at-risk youth via the not-for-profit sector in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Following law school, Mr. Celestin provided legal skill development to high school students as the Law-Related Education Coordinator with Legal Outreach, a not-for-profit that prepares urban youth for academic excellence in high school, college, and beyond. He utilized his legal degree to coordinate the Debate Program, where high school students analyzed sophisticated legal issues and developed oral arguments and legal briefs. Mr. Celestin then switched gears and began working with youth with open misdemeanor and felony cases as the Director of Advocacy and Development for The DOME Project, an alternative-to-detention program located in Manhattan. At The DOME Project, Mr. Celestin developed and supervised the Juvenile Justice Program and also served as the head of grant writing and marketing of the organization. Mr. Celestin most recently served as the Program Manager for the Supervised Release Program of the Criminal Justice Agency. The Supervised Release Program is an alternative to detention/bail program in Queens for individuals charged with felony offenses. Participants, primarily low-income individuals, youth, and minorities of color, are provided with an opportunity to receive treatment and various other support services as an alternative to awaiting the outcome of their respective cases at Rikers Island, the local jail.
Mr. Celestin works with elementary and middle school aged youth who are identified as at-risk through his work with the Department of Education. He created a limited liability corporation, Richard Celestin Consulting Group, LLC, for the purposes of providing legal skill development, self-awareness, youth empowerment, and consequential thinking to elementary and middle school students in Queens and Brooklyn. The underlying purpose behind the development of the LLC is to divert youth from the juvenile and criminal justice system by empowering them with strong minds, solid skills, and opportunities to grow as individuals and students. Since its inception in 2009, the LLC has grown tremendously under his sole supervision and implementation and recently won a grant under President Barack Obama’s Education Initiative, Race to the Top. In addition, the graduating class of CUNY School of Law has awarded Richard with the 2014 Distinguished Public Interest Award for his work with young people. To date, he has contracted with over 40 elementary, middle and high schools.
In addition to operating his LLC, Mr. Celestin also serves as the Workforce Learning Advisor for the Justice Community Programs at LaGuardia Community College. The program serves to support individuals between the ages of 18 to 30 years of age who are not enrolled in school, not employed, and have had contact with the criminal justice system within one year of entering the program. Mr. Celestin also serves as an adjunct professor at John Jay College and LaGuardia Community College while practicing criminal defense, primarily in the borough of Queens.