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Mailing Address

CDBHBA
P.O. Box 5252
Albany, NY 12205
c/o Patricia L. R. Rodriguez , Esq.

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CDBHBA | Officers & Directors
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Officers & Directors

President, Patricia L. R. Rodriguez, Esq.

Patrica L.R. Rodriguez

Patricia L. R. Rodriguez is a solo practitioner in Schenectady, New York who practices primarily in Family Court and Supreme Court.  She is one of the few bilingual attorneys in private practice in the Capital Distroct.  Pat serves on the Attorney for Children panels in Schenectady, Albany and Montgomery Counties.  Attorney Rodriguez also serves as an impartial hearing officer for the New York State Education Department.  She is a 1979 graduate of Douglass College of Rutgers University and earned her law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1985 while receiving a Legal Education Opportunities Fellowship.  Attorney Rodriguez is the President of the Capital District Black and Hispanic Bar Association and was elected to a two year term commencing in January 2015.  She is the first Hispanic to lead the organization. Pat was previously vice president and board member of the CDBHBA.  She is the vice president of the Schenectady County Bar Association.  Pat is an elected delegate to the NYSBA House of Delegates, and was previously elected to the Executive Committee of the New York State Bar Association.  She previously co-chaired the Special Committee on Youth Courts with the late Honorable Judith S. Kaye. Pat is also on the board of directors of the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York.

Prior to entering into private practice, Rodriguez served as Assistant Counsel to the New York State Education Department. Her past experience includes working as General Counsel for the New York State Consumer Protection Board and Associate Counsel for the New York State Assembly.

She has also served as the Vice President of To Life!, Vice President of the Law Order and Justice Center (currently known as the Center for Community Justice (CCJ)), and was on the board of directors of Environmental Advocates.   She is also a member of the Capital District Women’s Bar Association.

1st Vice President, Ricja Rice, Esq.

Senior Attorney, New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG)

Queens native and the first lawyer in her family, Ricja Rice is currently senior attorney for Office of the Medicaid Inspector General. Previously she was  the Legislative Director and Counsel for New York State Senator Kevin Parker of Brooklyn, NY. She has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Africana Studies with a minor is Sociology, from Union College in Schenectady, NY.  She obtained her law degree from Albany Law School, Union University and she is also a 2004 Center for Women and Public Policy Fellow, of Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy.

 

Like many successful attorneys, Ms. Rice’s humble beginnings started at the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York where she represented clients in landlord/tenant, small claims, elder law and disability matters.  Her love for helping those who need it most is evident in her representation of hundreds of indigent clients in the Capital District.
Ricja Rice has served as a co-chair of the Diversity and Gender Fairness Committee for the Capital District Women’s Bar Association for the past five years and currently sits as the CDWBA corresponding secretary.  In her capacity as co-chair she had orchestrated and participated in the annual diversity program held at Albany Law School on increasing diversity on the bench and bar.  Ricja is also the chair of the Judicial Task Force committee assigned to the task of encouraging diversity on the bench to delegates and party affiliates.
Practicing in the courts, meeting with many advocacy groups from around New York State, and participating in community service, Ricja tirelessly works on breaking barriers based on poverty, language, race, sex, gender and disability.

Ricja Rice

2nd Vice President, Rachel Ryan, Esq.

Rachel Ryan

[1] I. Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra? quam diu etiam furor iste tuus nos eludet? quem ad finem sese effrenata iactabit audacia? Nihilne te nocturnum praesidium Palati, nihil urbis vigiliae, nihil timor populi, nihil concursus bonorum omnium, nihil hic munitissimus habendi senatus locus, nihil horum ora voltusque moverunt? Patere tua consilia non sentis, constrictam iam horum omnium scientia teneri coniurationem tuam non vides? Quid proxima, quid superiore nocte egeris, ubi fueris, quos convocaveris, quid consilii ceperis, quem nostrum ignorare arbitraris? [2] O tempora, o mores! Senatus haec intellegit. Consul videt; hic tamen vivit. Vivit? immo vero etiam in senatum venit, fit publici consilii particeps, notat et designat oculis ad caedem unum quemque nostrum. Nos autem fortes viri satis facere rei publicae videmur, si istius furorem ac tela vitemus. Ad mortem te, Catilina, duci iussu consulis iam pridem oportebat, in te conferri pestem, quam tu in nos [omnes iam diu] machinaris.

[3] An vero vir amplissumus, P. Scipio, pontifex maximus, Ti. Gracchum mediocriter labefactantem statum rei publicae privatus interfecit; Catilinam orbem terrae caede atque incendiis vastare cupientem nos consules perferemus? Nam illa nimis antiqua praetereo, quod C. Servilius Ahala Sp. Maelium novis rebus studentem manu sua occidit. Fuit, fuit ista quondam in hac re publica virtus, ut viri fortes acrioribus suppliciis civem perniciosum quam acerbissimum hostem coercerent. Habemus senatus consultum in te, Catilina, vehemens et grave, non deest rei publicae consilium neque auctoritas huius ordinis; nos, nos, dico aperte, consules desumus.

Treasurer, Jorge Rodriguez, Esq.

Jorge is an Assistant Attorney General with the New York State Office of the Attorney General, where he focuses on affirmative civil litigation on behalf of the State of New York, its agencies and authorities. Before joining the New York State Attorney General, Jorge was an associate at the Albany law firm of Deily & Glastetter, LLP, where he practiced litigation in the areas of creditors’ rights, bankruptcy, retail collections and provisional remedies. Jorge started his legal career at the New York City law firm of Mahoney & Keane, LLP, where he practiced in the areas of maritime law and insurance defense.

Jorge has a J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School and a B.A. from Vanderbilt University. He is admitted to practice law in Federal and State courts in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Jorge Rodriguez

Secretary, Clotelle Drakeford, Esq.

Clotelle Drakeford

Clotelle L. Drakeford joined Rapport Meyers as an associate in March 2015.  Clotelle practices primarily in the areas of employment law, municipal and public authorities law, real estate and guardianship law.  She also has experience in civil rights, criminal and family law.

Before joining the firm, Clotelle was an assistant public defender with the Office of the Columbia County Public Defender, while also maintaining a solo general practice.

During her matriculation at Albany Law School, she served as a diversity fellow with the Office of Diversity Affairs, June 2011 – May 2012.  Clotelle was also a semifinalist in the Karen C. McGovern Senior Prize Trial Moot Court Competition, 2010 – 2011.  Finally, she was an active member of the Black Law Students Association, Women’s Law Caucus, New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) and Capital District Black and Hispanic Bar Association.

Prior to taking the New York State Bar Examination in July 2012, she served as a legal extern with the Office of the Federal Public Defender in the Northern District of New York from February – May 2012. She subsequently worked as a legal extern with the Office of the Albany County Public Defender from August – November 2012.

Before attending law school, Clotelle worked as a litigation paralegal at Gray, Rust, St. Amand, Moffett & Brieske, LLP, Atlanta, Georgia, in 2007.  She was a legal secretary at Kopff, Nardelli & Dopf, LLP, New York, NY, 2005 – 2007. Additionally, Clotelle worked as a legal assistant to principal of the Mathis Law Firm, P.C., Atlanta, GA, 2001 – 2004.

Clotelle attended Albany Law School, and was admitted to the New York Bar in 2013.

Board Members

Hon. Helena Heath

Helena Heath

Judge Helena Heath was appointed Albany City Court Judge on April 22, 2005 to fill a vacancy on that Court and became the first female of African descent to serve in this position in the City of Albany’s 319 year history. She was then elected in November 2005 to a full term of office and was re-elected in November 2011. Judge Heath is primarily assigned to the Civil and Traffic Parts of City Court where she presides over trials and proceedings, including contractual disputes, small claims, and landlord/tenant cases. She also conducts criminal arraignments, hearings, and trials.

Judge Heath graduated from New York University School of Law in 1987 where she was awarded the prestigious Root-Tilden-Snow Scholarship based upon her academic excellence and her commitment to public service. During law school, she pursued her interest in becoming a public service attorney by working for the Legal Aid Society, Juvenile Rights Division.

Judge Heath has 28 years of public service legal experience. Before getting on the bench, she served as a Court Attorney at the New York Court of Appeals, the highest level court in the State, an Assistant Attorney General in the litigation bureau of the New York State Department of Law, an Assistant Counsel to the New York State Department of Economic Development, and a Senior Counsel for the New York State Assembly Speaker.

Judge Heath is currently the Co-Chair of the Diversity and Gender Fairness Committee of the Capital District Women’s Bar Association and Co-Chair of the Youth and Law Committee of the Capital District Black and Hispanic Bar Association. She has coordinated programs for the past eighteen years with Albany Law School to expose female and minority law students to a variety of career paths, share keys to becoming a successful lawyer, and explore how female and minority attorneys can overcome gender and racial barriers in the legal profession.

Judge Heath serves as Chair of the Advisory Committee for the Albany County Family Court Children’s Center to ensure that children are cared for in a safe and nurturing environment while their families take care of court business. She also serves as a director for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Albany and for the Capital Region United Way. In 2015, Judge Heath was appointed to serve on the House of Delegates for the NYS Bar Association.

Margie A. Soehl, Esq.

Margie A. Soehl is a graduate of Espiritu Santo University in Guayaquil, Ecuador and Albany Law School, she is admitted to practice in New York, Ecuador and the United States District Courts for the Northern, Southern and Western Districts of New York.  Ms. Soehl is one of Albany, New York’s few bilingual English-Spanish speaking attorneys.  Ms. Soehl is an appointed member of the Committee on Character and Fitness of the Appellate Division, Third Department and serves on the Independent Judicial Election Qualification Commission for the Third Judicial District. She is a Board Member of the Capital District Black and Hispanic Bar Association and of the New York Central Region Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  She is also a member of the New York State Trial Lawyers Academy, the Albany County Bar Association, the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York, the New York State Bar Association and the Hispanic National Bar Association. While practicing in Ecuador, Margie served as a member of the legal advisory team of Ecuadorian President Gustavo Noboa.

Ms. Soehl devotes the majority of her practice to representing persons who have been seriously injured as the result of medical malpractice and negligence.

Margie A. Soehl

Donna Mackey, Esq.

Donna Mackey

Donna Mackey is currently Vice-President of Green Facility Solution in Albany, New York. She previously worked as an attorney for New York State for over thirty  years  for the  Department of Correctional Services, Division of Criminal Justice Services and for the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities. She graduated from Syracuse University  Law School, and she currently lives in Slingerlands, New York with her husband, Raymond Walker and their  two children.

Jennifer Richardson, Esq.

Jennifer currently works for Ostroff Associates lobbying on behalf of school districts, colleges and universities, and women and minority owned businesses.  She was previously the Deputy Director for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s State Legislative Affairs Office. Her portfolio included Education, Health, Mental Health, Social Services, Immigrant Affairs, Law Department, Technology, and Procurement.

Jennifer helped negotiate aspects of the Mayor’s legislative and budget positions with legislators and the Governor’s Office, in addition to monitoring and tracking legislation and writing briefings and testimony. She also served as a member of the board of directors for the New York State Conference of Mayors, the New York State Association of Counties representing New York City, and was a liaison between the mayor and the other Big Five City mayors in New York State.

During her tenure at the Mayor’s Office, she assisted in the passage of several major pieces of legislation including universal pre-k, mayoral control, dog licenses, immunizations, and streamlining the public assistance conciliation process for cash assistance recipients in NYC.

Previously, she worked for the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and the Syracuse City School District. As the Director of State Legislative Affairs for the DOE, she advocated in the New York State Legislature on behalf of the 1.1 million New York City school children. She assisted in drafting legislation and facilitated the passage of mandatory Pre-K in New York City, Electronic Access to Individualized Education Programs, and Opt-in Requirements for Parent Members. As Deputy Director for the Office of Talent Management in the Syracuse City School District, she managed over a dozen union contracts, implemented the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) plan, negotiated principal and teacher APPR plans, and headed the school district’s labor relations department.

Jennifer also has rulemaking experience from her position as an Assistant Counsel at the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Reform, where she assisted all executive branch agencies with the rulemaking process by helping to craft rules and implement legislative mandates. These agencies included the former Banking Department and the former Insurance Department (which are now consolidated into the Department of Financial Services) and the Departments of State and Labor. She analyzed rules for compliance with the State Administrative Procedure Act. She also worked with city agencies on rulemakings to ensure compliance with certain state laws passed.

Additionally, she brings labor relations, arbitration, and dispute resolution experience gained from her tenure working at the New York State Public Employees Federation, one of the largest white collar unions in the state, and from clerking for the Connecticut Superior Court.

Jennifer is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She has a JD from Albany Law School and is admitted to practice in New York. She holds a Master’s Degree from the Cornell School of Industrial Labor Relations.

Jennifer Richardson

Hon. Richard Rivera, Esq.

Richard Rivera

Honorable Richard Rivera, J.F.C., who is of Puerto Rican descent, was born and raised in the Bronx, NY.  Judge Rivera received a BA dual degree in Spanish Literature and Latin American studies from Colgate University and in 1991 earned a Juris Doctor from Albany Law School.  On November 4, 2014, Judge Rivera became the first person of color elected to a Countywide bench in Albany County, first person of color elected to Albany County Family Court and the first Hispanic Judge elected at any level in Albany County and perhaps the entire 3rd Judicial District.

Prior to his election Judge Rivera served as an Alternate Public Defender, an Assistant County Attorney prosecuting Juvenile Delinquents and PINs, and most recently as a Child Support Magistrate in Albany County Family Court.