Celebrating Black History Month
February is Black History Month, and the College of Law boasts many extraordinary Alumni of Color.
Here we celebrate their excellence and many accomplishments, and we look forward to featuring many more Alumni of Color in the future.
To nominate an alum for recognition, email email@example.com.Part 2
Born in Syracuse in 1875, William Herbert Johnson received his undergraduate degree from Boston University, served in the Army in the Spanish-American war of 1898 and then returned to his hometown and enrolled in the Syracuse University College of Law.
After his graduation from law school in 1903, Johnson was unable to gain admission to the New York bar. Notwithstanding the fact that he was not admitted to practice law, Johnson became a pillar of the Syracuse community, hosting such luminaries as Harriet Tubman and George Washington Carver, and opened doors of opportunities for others in the African American community that had been denied to him.
Johnson died in 1965 at the age of 90. Despite the fact that Johnson was not a lawyer, the minority bar association of Central New York was thereafter named the William Herbert Johnson Bar Association in his honor, and an award in his name is given annually by the College of Law.
Johnson was posthumously admitted to the New York State Bar in October 2019.
Erica D. White-Dunston is the Director and Chief Diversity Officer for the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) for the Office of the Secretary (OS) in the Department of Interior (DOI). As the Director, Erica is responsible for developing and implementing workplace strategies that will aid the DOI in maintaining a continuing affirmative program to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Additionally, she is responsible for providing oversight to the Bureaus in identifying and eliminating perceived or actual discriminatory practices throughout the Department via applicable Title VI and Title VII laws, regulations, and guidance. She began her career in 1999, in area of employment law as an associate specializing in civil rights and employment law.
From 2001 to 2010, Erica worked at the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), first in the Office of General Counsel (OGC) as a Trial Attorney in Systemic Litigations, with collateral duty assignments with the Office of Federal Operations (OFO), writing federal sector appellate decisions, and the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO).
In 2006, Erica was reassigned to OEO, where she performed all aspects of federal sector review for both informal and formal complaint processing. In 2008, as a result of trend analysis in the area of disability, she chaired the Agency’s Disability Task Force which resulted in the restructuring of the Agency’s Disability Program.
In 2014, Erica became a Department of Treasury Certified Strategic Partner which recognized her superior knowledge in HR, EEO and Training. Ms. White-Dunston was one of only 11 IRS employees of the nearly 100,000 employees to which this certification was bestowed. In 2015, Ms. White-Dunston was accepted as a Presidential Management Council Interagency Fellow (Cohort 8). This program was created to nurture, develop and strengthen both technical and general leadership competencies through cross-agency exposure for high-potential and high-performing GS 13-15s. Erica completed the six-month detail to the Chief Human Capital Officers’ (CHCO) Council at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). In May 2016, Erica returned to EEOC as the new Director of the OEO.
A native Washingtonian scholarship recipient and graduate of Archbishop Carroll College Preparatory High School, Erica was awarded the Lorraine Williams scholarship and numerous Trustee Awards for scholastic achievement from Howard University, where she graduated in 1995. Upon graduation in 1995, she was awarded a full academic scholarship to Syracuse University College of Law. Erica graduated with her law degree in 1998, having received the Seely Johnson Award for Outstanding Leadership in an African American student, the Ralph Kharas Award for Outstanding Leadership in Moot Court, and elevation to the Order of the Barristers.
John F. Boyd II L’16 is an Onondaga County Assistant District Attorney. While at the College of Law, John was a member of the Black Law Students Association Trial Team, which won its regional championship. John also competed in the Lionel O. Grossman Trial Competition earning the Frank H. Armani Advocacy Award.
John also earned the Robert W. Miller Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy at the College. Prior to law school, John attended New York University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Social and Cultural Analysis with dual concentrations in Africana Studies and American Studies.
John imparts his passion for trial advocacy as the coach and attorney advisor for the Black Law Students Association Trial Team.
John is actively involved with numerous civic, cultural, and charitable organizations in Onondaga County, including serving on the board of the William Herbert Johnson Bar Association and the Volunteer Lawyers Project.
John resides in Fayetteville, NY with his wife Katie.
Ted McKee was sworn in as a Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on June 20, 1994, and became Chief Judge on May 4, 2010. He graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University College of Law in 1975 where he was inducted into the Order of the Coif, and earned several honors for outstanding academic performance.
He began his legal career at a large Philadelphia law firm, but left there in 1977 to begin his career in public service. He has since been an Assistant United States Attorney, Deputy Solicitor to the Law Department of the City of Philadelphia, and General Counsel to the Philadelphia Parking Authority.
He was elected to a 10 year term as a Judge of the Court of Judge of the Court of Common Pleas for the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania.
While a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, Judge McKee chaired the Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission. He was appointed to the Court of Appeals by President Clinton shortly after being retained for a second 10 year term on the Court of Common Pleas. Judge McKee serves on the boards of directors of several nonprofit organizations and institutions including the Vera Institute of Justice and Syracuse University.
He is also a member of the Board of Visitors of Temple Law School, an honorary member of the Board of Visitors of Syracuse University Law School, and has been an advisor to the American Law Institute’s Project to revise the sentencing provisions of the Model Penal Code. He also previously served on the Criminal Law Committee of the United States Judicial Conference. Most recently, Judge McKee was appointed to serve as a member of the National Academy of Science Committee on Law and Justice, and is one of the inaugural members of the Council on Criminal Justice.
He also serves on the Board of the Rendell Center for Civics and Civic Engagement. Judge McKee’s official travels have included Ghana and Russia, where he had the honor of addressing the Council of Russian Judges on the Independence of the American Judiciary.
Dani Morrison L'15 currently works as a litigation and regulatory associate at DLA Piper. She concentrates her practice on complex commercial and appellate litigation, representing clients in a variety of matters at all phases of litigation. Dani also has a robust pro bono practice.
She represents individuals with immigration related issues in impact litigation before the Supreme Court of the United States and advocates for veterans with service-related disabilities who were separated from the military with other than honorable discharges.
Prior to joining DLA, Dani was a former law clerk for Judge Theodore A. McKee of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and Judge Darnell Jones, II of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. She was also a litigation associate at a mid-size law firm in Philadelphia.
Dani also obtained her Masters in Education while at the College of Law, obtaining a certificate in Disability Studies and working as a research assistant at the Burton Blatt Institute.
While at the College of Law she was President of her Class for all three years, Vice President of the Black Law Students Association (2013-2014), Winner and Best Advocate of the Lionel O. Grossman Trial Competition, Winner of the Second Annual Alternative Dispute Resolution Competition, Oralist and Regional Finalist of the ABA National Appellate Team (2013-2015), member of the Moot Court Honor Society and a research assistant for the Cold Case Justice Initiative.
She was also a 1L Tutor, and a participant in Student Court at Henniger Highschool. Her other honors include Order of the Barristers, the Robert W. Miller Trial Advocacy Award, Office of Student Life's Dean's Award, and Paul Shipman Andrews Award.
Bruce Gardner has litigated more than 25 cases before the U.S. Tax Court, U.S. Bankruptcy Court and U.S. District Court. He represents clients in federal and D.C. tax controversies involving individual income tax, sales tax, and real property tax and rovides legal opinions to clients on an assortment of complex transactional tax issues, conduct tax research, prepared pre-trial and post-trial briefs.
Gardner also has litigated over 15 cases before the DC Superior Court involving probate, criminal, and real estate, foreclosures issues. And he has prepared briefs and argued tax cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals (D.C. and 4th Circuit) and briefed and argued cases before the D.C. Court of Appeals.
Lt. Col. Pia W. Rogers is currently serving as a Senior Service College Student in the Eisenhower School of National Security and Resource Strategy at Fort McNair, District of Columbia. Prior to attending SSC, Rogers served as the Chief, Assignments Branch for the Personnel, Plans, and Training Office in the Office of The Judge Advocate General in the Pentagon.
Rogers was commissioned in 1998 at Syracuse University through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from the S. I. Newhouse School of Communications. Upon graduation, she was granted an educational delay to attend law school.
Rogers returned to Syracuse University and completed a joint-degree program earning a Juris Doctor degree through the College of Law and a Master of Public Administration degree through the Maxwell School of Citizenship in 2001.
Rogers entered the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps in 2002 after successful completion of the New York and New Jersey bar exams. Her military assignments include: Client Services Attorney, Administrative Law Attorney, and Trial Counsel, Fort Meade, Maryland; Defense Counsel, Taegu, South Korea; Recruiting Officer, Judge Advocate Recruiting Office, Rosslyn, Virginia; Trial Attorney, U.S. Army Legal Services Agency Contract and Fiscal Law Department, Arlington, Virginia; Fiscal Law Attorney, United States Forces – Afghanistan, Kabul, Afghanistan; Professor, The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, Charlottesville, Virginia; Command Judge Advocate, Special Operations Aviation Command (Airborne), Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Rogers' professional military education includes the Judge Advocate Officer Graduate Course where she completed a Master of Military Law with a specialization in Contracts and Fiscal Law, and the Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Her military awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Korea Defense Service Medal, NATO Medal, Parachutist Badge, and the Army Staff Identification Badge.
Rogers is a native of Cleveland, Ohio. She is married to Akima Rogers and they have two children.
Vincent H. Cohen, Jr., a white collar lawyer, focuses his practice on high-stakes litigation on behalf of individuals and corporations. He is also a member of the firm’s Policy Committee, which consists of elected partners who oversee management of the firm worldwide. As an experienced trial lawyer and investigator, he represents clients in sensitive government and internal investigations, government enforcement matters, and complex civil and criminal litigation on a domestic and international scale.
Mr. Cohen is the former acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. Prior to leading the largest U.S. Attorney’s Office in the nation, Mr. Cohen served as the Office’s Principal Assistant United States Attorney for five years. During his tenure, he oversaw the investigation and prosecution of cases involving a wide variety of federal crimes, including terrorism, financial and health care fraud, homicide, public corruption, money laundering, and cyber-security.
He helped establish and expand the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Cyber Unit to prosecute cross border cyber-crimes such as cyber frauds committed against multinational corporations, and insider trading schemes that obtained confidential information through cyber breaches. Mr. Cohen’s experience as a federal prosecutor also includes work on high-profile national security trials, leading an internal task force committed to prosecuting federal public corruption matters, and working in partnership with federal and local law enforcement agencies to reduce violent crime in the District of Columbia.
While serving as acting U.S. Attorney, Mr. Cohen was appointed by Attorney General Loretta Lynch as a member of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, a small group of U.S. Attorneys from across the country who provide advice and counsel to the Attorney General on policy, management and operational issues.
Mr. Cohen joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 1997 as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Criminal and Civil Divisions. Six years later, he joined a leading international law firm, where he advised clients on a broad range of complex legal issues. Before returning to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2010, Mr. Cohen served as a partner at a boutique law firm specializing in high-stakes litigation for individuals and corporations.
Throughout his career, Mr. Cohen has been consistently recognized for his professional accomplishments. He is recognized by Chambers USA as a leading lawyer in the area of White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations for the District of Columbia and is listed by Legal 500 US for Corporate Investigations and White-Collar Criminal Defense. In 2020, he was named one of Profiles in Diversity Journal’s first-ever Black Leaders Worth Watching, along with Working Dad of the Year by Working Mother Magazine. He was named a Rainmaker by MCCA in 2019 for being an exceptional diverse attorney whose business acumen, passion and dedication to proactive client development set him apart as a leader in the legal profession. Since 2018 he has been named one of the 500 Leading Lawyers in America by Lawdragon. In 2018 he was listed as one of Savoy Magazine’s Most Influential Black Lawyers. Mr. Cohen was honored with the 2018 Diversity Leader Award by Profiles in Diversity Journal for his commitment to diversity. The award series honors companies and individuals who create, develop and promote programs that support diversity and inclusion. Mr. Cohen, who leads Dechert’s Black Affinity Group, has worked to promote and safeguard a comprehensive commitment to diversity since he joined Dechert.
In 2015, Mr. Cohen received the inaugural Syracuse Law Honors Award from the College of Law, for his distinguished achievement in the legal profession during his time as acting U.S. Attorney. That same year, he received the Director’s Award from the United States Secret Service for his contribution and commitment to the principles of responsible law enforcement and Walker Memorial Baptist Church recognized him with the Public Service and Humanitarian Award for his work in ensuring equal justice for the people of Washington, D.C. through his selfless community involvement. In 2014, he received the Presidential Star Award from the National Bar Association for his contributions in the field of law and in 2010, he was identified as one of the “Nation’s Best Advocate’s: 40 Lawyers Under the Age of 40.” In 2008, Mr. Cohen received the Chancellor’s Citation for Distinguished Alumni Achievement from Syracuse University and as an AUSA from 1997 to 2003, Mr. Cohen received a number of special achievement awards for outstanding performance including awards from the Attorney General of the United States, as well as from the Offices of Inspector General of the Department of State and the Smithsonian Institution.
Mr. Cohen serves as an instructor teaching trial advocacy at Harvard Law School’s Trial Advocacy Workshop and is a frequent lecturer at Syracuse University, Georgetown University and Harvard law schools. He has served as General Counsel and remains an active member of 100 Black Men of America, Inc. (Greater Washington), an organization focused on improving the quality of life of minority youth in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area through programs focusing on health and wellness, economic empowerment, education, and mentoring. Mr. Cohen recently spoke on the topic of combatting corruption to a contingent of Brazilian prosecutors through the State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Program on Transnational Crime and Anti-Corruption.
Staci is a lifetime resident of Syracuse and attended local schools, graduating from Corcoran High School in 2003. After high school, Staci attended Hobart and William Smith Colleges and Le Moyne College, graduating magna cum laude in May of 2010 with a B.A. in English.
While completing her undergraduate studies, Staci worked as a legal secretary and was inspired to pursue a career in law. She enrolled in Syracuse University College of Law.
Upon graduating from the College of Law in 2014, Staci worked as a Family Court Mediator with New Justice Conflict Resolution Services, Inc., where she mediated custody and visitation disputes.
In 2016, Staci joined the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office as an Assistant District Attorney. She is a member of the Special Victims Bureau and prosecutes cases involving domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault.
In 2019, Staci was recognized as one of CNY’s “40 Under 40” for her commitment to advocating for vulnerable and underserved members of our community. Staci serves on a number of boards, including the SU College of Law Student Alumni Association and the Onondaga County Bar Association.
She is a proud member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. and active in a number of community-focused organizations.
Staci has continued to make Syracuse her home, and lives on the Southside with her husband and four children.
John V. Elmore grew up in the Southern Tier and currently lives in the Buffalo area. He has dedicated his professional life to making sure that hardworking families are treated fairly by the legal system, including years of service with the New York State Attorney Grievance Committees, which oversee the discipline of lawyers accused of misconduct or neglect, and appointments by Governor Cuomo to serve on multiple judicial screening committees evaluating potential candidates for judgeships.
He is also a former Golden Club Boxer and current certified amateur boxing coach, referee, and judge.
Julian Harrison is an attorney, tech policy advocate, and proud Brooklynite. He currently serves as an Ad Policy Manager at TikTok.
Julian is also a member of the Communications and Media Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association. Prior to TikTok, Julian served as a Tech Policy Fellow on Capitol Hil. On Capitol Hill, Julian worked with congressional members and staffers to explore legislative, regulatory, and public policy initiatives for the tech industry.
During his time at Syracuse Law, Julian served as a fellow for the Multicultural, Media, Telecom and Internet Council, where he researched ways in which emerging technologies were negatively affecting marginalized communities. As a law student, Julian became fascinated with the way tech has affected long-standing legal precedent and societal behaviors. Julian is currently studying for the Certified Information Privacy Professional United States certification and will be participating in the upcoming 2021 ABA Media Advocacy Leadership Academy.
He loves dogs, collecting sneakers, and is a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
Everett A. Gillison has had an extensive career as a public servant for the citizens of Pennsylvania, as a social worker, public defender, Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor for the City of Philadelphia, Board Member of the Pennsylvania Department of Probation and Parole, and Commissioner for the Pennsylvania Ethics Commission. With each step of his journey, he has had a singular focus to use his law training in service to others.
After graduating from the College of Law, Gillison returned to the Defenders Association of Philadelphia where he worked for the next 23 years, developing into an outstanding trial attorney and advocate. He was a member of the first Special Defense and Capital Homicide Unit in the City of Philadelphia’s history, which led in raising the standards for lawyers practicing capital case defense. This elevation in the delivery of capital case defense had the effect of establishing that well prepared and adequately funded defense lawyers could dramatically cut the number of indigent defendants receiving the death penalty. In fact, none of the defendants represented by this unit have ever received a sentence of death. Recognition of his outstanding efforts led to his acceptance into the American College of Trial Lawyers as a Fellow in 2006, opening doors for more public service attorneys into the international organization.
The Honorable Michael A. Nutter appointed Gillison Deputy Mayor for Public Safety on January 7, 2008. Charged with reimagining and coordinating the public safety departments, he brought a community-based, holistic approach to City Hall. He started a movement called Philly Rising which took money from the Public Safety agencies and realigned them with true Community Policing efforts. Using data and trust building- the top ten “hot-spot” violent communities saw 15% to 28% drops in violent crime and homicide. From 2008 to 2015, the City saw a dramatic 35% drop in homicides by investing in job training, education, jobs placement, and violence interdiction programs. Coupled with his focus on those returning from custody being given support and opportunities to work at meaningful jobs, he saw a dramatic reduction in the county prison numbers while simultaneously lessening the incidents of crime on the streets.
One of Gillison's major achievements was the investment in a coordinated cities approach to big events and emergency preparedness. Under his tenure, the City of Philadelphia safely hosted more than one million people for the visit of Pope Francis in September 2015. When tragedy struck with the derailing of Amtrak Northeast Regional Train, then President Barack Obama came to thank the assembled team for their professionalism and quick response. The community focused holistic approach Gillison championed proved itself in effective fashion.
Gillison has served on many non-profit boards including the Episcopal Legal Aid, Dawn’s Place, Cathedral Chapter of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia, and the Coalition Against Hunger. To each organization he is a part of he brings not only his distinct brand of servant leadership but also elevates those around him to get involved and change what they feel needs to be changed. He has lectured at many of the Philadelphia Area Law schools, colleges, and universities in a variety of topics, given the breadth of his experience. His favorite has been taking part in “The Road Not Taken," which helps train the next generation of public servants, in law and government.
Gillison grew up in West Philadelphia, graduating from University City High School, from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Political Science, and from Syracuse University College of Law, class of 1985.
Michelle is a seasoned international trade compliance leader with over 14 years of practical experience. Acting as SAP’s strategic legal advisor for all activities relating to the export of goods and services for North and South America, Michelle works closely with all SAP cloud business groups (Concur, Ariba, Fieldglass, Success Factors) and other functional teams within SAP to ensure compliance with trade laws and market requirements in dealing with customers, partners, authorities and policy makers.
Michelle helps define SAP’s export control and trade sanctions operations policies and standards; develops and implements export and trade sanctions authorization strategies and advises the lines of business on export control and trade sanctions best practices while monitoring SAP’s deliveries On-Premise and in the Cloud.
Prior to joining SAP, Michelle was part of the management team of Deloitte’s Global Trade Advisory Practice Group. Client matters included the design and implementation of export compliance programs, providing guidance and solutions for proactive and remedial measures for global trade compliance; creating and leading customized export compliance training; and assisting global companies with strategic, operational and compliance matters as related to mergers and acquisitions, integration activities, trade automation, and business model optimization.
Michelle was also an Attorney within the International Trade practice group of a large law firm in Washington, DC and has considerable experience working in the Office of General Counsel and Corporate departments of large aerospace and defense companies such as Raytheon Technologies and The Boeing Company, where she provided strategic regulatory trade control guidance on licensing and compliance. She was also the Empowered Official and subject matter expert at a major University where she spent much time developing and implementing an internal export control and trade sanctions compliance program.
Michelle is an experienced international trade compliance speaker. She will be speaking later this month at the American Conference Institute/C5 European Summit on Economic Sanctions Risk & Compliance to provide a US perspective on an in-house counsel panel. Most recently in 2020, Michelle spoke at CompTIA’s 14th Annual Global Trade Compliance Best Practices Conference. In 2019, Michelle spoke at the Society of Research Administrators International Annual Conference in San Francisco and was the moderator and speaker at an African Global Trade roundtable discussion Deloitte hosted with the Global African Chamber of Commerce in Chicago.
Michelle was also Publications Chair of the Society for International Affairs (SIA) 2018 Summer Conference and served on the SIA Task Force to re-write and co-author the 2018 Voluntary Disclosure Handbook second edition publication. She was also Assistant Vice President for Women in International Trade (WIIT) for Special Events and the WIIT Scholarship Trust.
Michelle’s current professional and personal activities include leadership roles in SAP’s Washington DC Business Women’s Network and SAP North America’s Diversity and Inclusion Council. In August 2020, Michelle was a member of the inaugural SAP Inflection Point executive panel sharing her personal experiences and point of view on diversity and inclusion podcasts from Harvard Business Review’s Women at Work series. In October 2020, Michelle was featured in an SAP global branding video shared across SAP social media channels for SAP’s inaugural inclusive hiring virtual career open house. Michelle has also led trainings on Diversity, Inclusion and Unconscious Bias when she was part of the leadership team of Deloitte’s McLean Inclusion Council. She earned her Certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University in 2019.
Michelle is a founding member of the Syracuse University College of Law Inclusion Network and Syracuse Black Law Alumni Collective which both seek to support law students of color by providing mentorship, skills training, and opportunities to celebrate and promote diversity. Michelle has also been a member of the Syracuse University Law Alumni Association Board for over four years.
Michelle received her Juris Doctorate from Syracuse University College of Law in 2005 where she was a member of the Moot Court Honor Society and an Editor for both The Labor Lawyer Journal and Journal of International Law and Commerce. Michelle received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Virginia in 2001 where she was a member of the University Judiciary Committee. She is a member of the District of Columbia, Virginia and New Jersey bars.
Michelle and her husband Brian have one young son, named Brandon and a very active goldendoodle named Bailey. The family resides in Maryland.
Before joining PIMCO in 2011, Keisha was a senior vice president and senior compliance officer at Neuberger Berman Management. Previously, Keisha was a chief compliance officer in Lehman Brothers' investment management division. In her prior roles, she was responsible for the compliance program of registered investment advisers that offered alternative investment products and served as a senior compliance officer for a registered investment adviser of open-end mutual funds.
Keisha has 19 years of industry experience and holds a J.D. from the Syracuse University College of Law and a Master of Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. She also received an undergraduate degree from Syracuse University.
Keisha joined the College of Law Board of Advisors in 2016.
Brittany Jones, Local Director, is an associate attorney with Mental Hygiene Legal Service. Prior to her current position, Brittany served as an associate at the law firm Webster Szanyi LLP and as an appellate court attorney for the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department in Rochester, NY.
While living in Rochester, Brittany served as treasurer on the Rochester Black Bar Association. She also coached a high school mock trial team for the Boy Scouts of America’s Law Exploring program. She spent time serving in VLSP’s family law clinic and landlord-tenant program where she represented clients in and around the Rochester area. She also is a past president of the Minority Bar Association of Western New York.
Brittany holds a Bachelor of Science from Emerson College, a Master of Science in Telecommunications and Network Management from the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University, and a Juris Doctor from Syracuse University College of Law.
Judge Thompson currently sits in Mercer County Superior Court – Family Part, where he serves as Presiding Judge and hears Juvenile Delinquency, Domestic Violence, Contempt of Restraining Order, Weapons Forfeiture, and Family Crisis matters. He has presided over and served as the Lead Judge for the Children in Court docket, hearing child abuse, neglect and termination of parental rights matters. Judge Thompson Chairs Mercer County’s Domestic Violence Working Group and Co-Chairs the Youth Services Commission.
Immediately prior to appointment to Superior Court, Judge Thompson was a municipal court judge for more than four years. He served a complete term as a full-time judge in Trenton and was reappointed Chief Judge. Additionally, Judge Thompson presided over the shared services Municipal Court for Westampton, Eastampton and Hainesport Townships in Burlington County. He was the first African-American municipal court judge to serve in the Westampton Municipal Court.
Judge Thompson worked for over a decade in his own general private practice. Simultaneous to private practice, he also served as a municipal public defender for 12 years in Trenton. Judge Thompson has also worked for the NJ Office of the Public Defender, Office of Parental Representation, representing parents in child abuse, neglect and termination of parental rights cases.
Judge Thompson graduated from Mercer County Community College with honors, earning an Associate in Applied Science degree in 1988. In the same year, he was selected as a Harry S. Truman Scholar from New Jersey. Endowed by the United States Congress in 1975 as a living memorial to the 33rd President, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship is the premier graduate fellowship in the United States and is awarded to undergraduates with demonstrated leadership potential, commitment to public service and academic excellence.
In 1990, Judge Thompson graduated cum laude from Trenton State College, now The College of New Jersey. While at Trenton State College, Judge Thompson was selected and participated in the Washington Center’s Minority Leaders Fellowship Program in Washington, DC, during the summer of 1989.
He then earned Master of Public Administration and Juris Doctor degrees from Syracuse University, both in 1993. While at Syracuse University, he was named an Andrews Scholar by the Law School, and a Graduate Scholar by the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. These scholarships covered full tuition for both degrees. Judge Thompson was born and raised in Trenton, NJ, and continues to reside in Mercer County.
Ursula Simmons is a 2016 graduate from the University of Pittsburgh who majored in Political Science and minored in French Language and Literature.
Ursula graduated from Syracuse University College of Law in Spring 2019. While at SUCOL Ursula focused her studies on international relations and was an active member of Advocacy Honors Society.
In addition, Ursula served on the Black Law Student Association’s Northeast Regional Board as Community Service Director and Mock Trial Director during her 2L and 3L years.
Currently, Ursula works as an Assistant Chief Counsel for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Washington DC. Her cases focus on national security and human rights law.
Luke Cooper is the founder and CEO of Fixt, a venture capital-backed technology startup acquired by Assurant, a Fortune 300 company, for more than 11x revenue in 2020 (Covid). Fixt provides on-demand device repair services to large enterprises, an $18B industry.
Before moving into entrepreneurship, Cooper started his career as an attorney at DLA Piper and then at State Farm. His first entrepreneurial experience was joining CTS, a cybersecurity software startup, as employee No. 1. On a single round of funding of $180,000, Cooper guided CTS to a $60 million exit to CACI within two years. His 2nd entrepreneurship experience was with a 100-year old food service business.
Although his M&A expertise facilitated a cashless purchase, it was too late to turn the company around. Eventually, Brighams was sold for pennies on the dollar to HP Hood, a food and dairy giant.
As CEO of Fixt, Cooper has guided the company to 400 percent year-over-year growth for the past 4 years, raised a $7 million Series A, and has acquired enterprise clients such as Home Depot, New York Police Department, The Carlyle Group, and IBM. His diverse trench experience as both a leader and entrepreneur has earned him a place on the TEDCO board of directors and as a trustee of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB).
In addition to a JD from Syracuse University, he holds an MBA from Babson College, an M&A Certs from the University of Chicago and was a 4 Year scholarship basketball player at Adelphi University.
William Wolfe is a Financial Restructuring, Bankruptcy and Creditors’ Rights Associate at Harris Beach PLLC. Before taking that position, he worked at Harris Beach as a law clerk.
His other legal experience includes internships at Legal Services of Central New York; Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC; Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office; and Ulmer & Berne LLP. He was also a Judicial Intern for the Honorable Frederick J. Scullin, Jr. in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York.
Writes William, "Growing up on the west side of Chicago in one of the most poverty stricken and crime riddled neighborhoods in the city, I believe that my life experiences allow me to bring a unique perspective to the legal community. When I reflect on my goal to become a lawyer, I realize that I have known as far back as seven years of age that this was my calling."