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CDBHBA | Awards Ceremony, 2015
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Awards Ceremony, 2015

Recognizing People of Color in the Legal Profession
President's Message

Patricia L.R. RodriguezOn behalf of the Capital District Black and Hispanic Bar Association, we welcome and thank you for being a part of our inaugural Peter M. Pryor Pioneer Award, recognizing the accomplishments of Peter Pryor and President Penelope Andrews, the first African American woman Dean and President of Albany Law School. I would Like to thank the CDBHBA board, especially First Vice President Ricja Rice and Secretary Clotelle Drakeford, for their contributions to this event. We would like to recognize the contributions of the New York State Bar Associationand especially Mark Wilson and CDBHBA board member Gloria Herron Arthur and thank them for their ongoing support of the CDBHBA and their assistance in hosting this event.

The contributions of people like Peter M. Pryor, who was a leader as an African American attorney willing to take on the controversial issues of his day, must be recognized and celebrated. That is why the CDBHBA decided to create the Peter Pryor Pioneer award, in recognition of those Pioneering efforts. The first recipient of this award is Penelope Andrews, who is a pioneer in her role at Albany Law School. We gather to celebrate their accomplishments and to thank them for their service.

Patricia L. R. Rodriguez


Peter M. Pryor

Peter M. Pryor was born in 1928 in Savannah, Georgia. He served our country with distinction during World War II, reaching the rank of sergeant in the United States Army. He is a graduate of Siena College, the class of 1952, and Albany Law School, class of 1954. He was the first African American to graduate from Albany Law School since the Reconstruction. In his law practice, Mr. Pryor represented the poor and victims of discrimination. He has been called a “provocative and enduring pioneer” which is the reason the Capital District Black and Hispanic Bar Association has chosen to create the Peter M. Pryor Pioneer Award in his honor.

Additionally, in his distinguished career, he was appointed by Attorney General Louis Lefkowitz as an Assistant Attorney General, appointed counsel to the New York State Pure Waters Authority, and appointed Chairman of the New York State Consumer Protection Board by Governor Nelson Rockefeller. He also served as counsel to the New York State Insurance Fund. In 1980, he returned to the private practice of law with the law firm of Nolan and Heller and then the law office of Peter M. Pryor.

Most notably, Mr. Pryor was a leader in the civic and community affairs of the City of Albany and served on numerous nonprofit boards of directors. He was instrumentally involved within the most controversial and highly prolific cases of his day, at great personal cost to himself. He represented Sam Clark in a sensational police brutality case in 1962. He challenged the City of Albany in the case of Barbara Ann Sharpe, a 14 year-old African American girl who was denied access to the public pools of the City of Albany. Mr. Pryor also challenged the Albany political machine in voter and housing discrimination cases. Mr. Pryor was also the founder of the Albany Urban League and past president and general counsel of the Albany chapter of the NAACP. He is a trustee emeritus at Siena College and Albany Law School, and regent emeritus for the State University of New York.

Mr. Pryor is a recipient of many awards and recognitions, most prominent of which includes an honorary degree of law from Siena College, the Distinguished Service Award from Albany Law School, and is listed in Who’s Who in the East, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Black America.

Peter M. Pryor

Penelope Andrews

Penelope Andrews

Jenny Rivera, Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals, was born in New York City in December 1960. On January 15, 2013, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo nominated her to the Court of Appeals, and the New York State Senate confirmed her appointment on February 11, 2013.

Judge Rivera has spent her entire professional career in public service. She clerked for the Honorable Sonia Sotomayor, on the Southern District of New York, and also clerked in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals Pro Se Law Clerk’s Office. She worked for the Legal Aid Society’s Homeless Family Rights Project, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (renamed Latino Justice PRLDEF), and was appointed by the New York State Attorney General as Special Deputy Attorney General for Civil Rights. Judge Rivera has been an Administrative Law Judge for the New York State Division for Human Rights, and served on the New York City Commission on Human Rights. Prior to her appointment, she was a tenured faculty member of the City University of New York School of Law, where she founded and served as Director of the Law School’s Center on Latino and Latina Rights and Equality.

She graduated from Princeton University, and received her J.D. from New York University School of Law and her LL.M. from Columbia University School of Law.

2015 Sponsors

The Capital District Black and Hispanic Bar Association would like to recognize the following organizations and thank them for co-sponsoring this reception.

Albany County Bar Association
Capital District Women’s Bar Association
Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP
E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy LLP
Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP
New York State Bar Association
Nixon Peabody LLP
Powers and Santola LLP
Rapport Meyers LLP
Roemer Wallens Gold & Mineaux LLP
Schenectady County Bar Association