Approximately 240 people gathered at Mutual of America on October 17 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Fordham Law’s Feerick Center for Social Justice, the careers of six individuals who have dedicated themselves to service and justice, and, most joyfully, the 80th birthday of the center’s founder, John D. Feerick ’61.
“When my 79th birthday came, I had the hope I could slip quietly into this aged plateau and by-step questions that might arise as to my birth date,” Feerick said. “You have made this a glorious moment in my life for which I have no words other than to thank you.”
Hon. Jonathan Lippman, former chief judge of the New York State court system and of counsel at Latham & Watkins, received the George J. Mitchell Lifetime Public Service Award. Judge Lippman was introduced by Mitchell himself.
“With four decades of service as an attorney, administrator, and judge, he knew the New York court workings intimately and used that knowledge, as chief administrative judge, presiding justice of the First Department, and then chief judge, to make far reaching reforms of the judiciary and of the legal profession,” Mitchell said of Lippman.
Alumnus Thomas A. Moore ’72 and his wife, Judith Livingston, received the Spirit of Hope Award. Moore and Livingston are senior partners at Kramer, Dillof, Livingston & Moore, one of the country’s most successful plaintiffs law firms that specialize in medical malpractice and personal injury cases.
“The lives of Judy Livingston and Tom Moore embody the mission of the Feerick Center itself,” said event co-chair Daniel O’Toole ’92 in introducing the couple. “For decades Judy and Tom have been giving voice in the courtroom to those who often literally can’t speak for themselves. We live in a safer world because of the work they have done.”
James J. Roth ’83, senior executive vice president and general counsel of Mutual of America, received the Spirit of Service Award, created to recognize those whose acts of service and kindness are done without fanfare.
“In his years of private legal practice…he has very quietly given of his time generously to improve and support nonprofit organizations that impact a wide range of people and promote justice,” Robert Reilly ’75, assistant dean of the Feerick Center, said of Roth in an introduction.
Alumnus Roland R. Acevedo ’96 and Maria Imperial received the Champion of Justice Award. Acevedo has an extensive career in public and private settings representing individuals in social justice matters and as an advocate for inmates, battered women, homeless families, and the mentally ill. Imperial serves as the chief executive officer of the YWCA of White Plains and Central Westchester. Alumna Barbara Opotowsky ’71, who served as an event co-chair, introduced the husband and wife honorees.
“This award is a trifecta: an award for Maria Imperial, for Roland Acevedo, and for Maria and Roland for what they represent as a couple,” Opotowsky said. “They are each and together imbued with a core personal ethic: a passion to make a difference, to help those who can’t help themselves.”
Denis Cronin ’72, who served as an event co-chair, delivered welcome remarks. In addition to O’Toole, Opotowsky, and Cronin co-chairs included Laurie Berke-Weiss ’83, Patrick A. Burns ’71, Rafal Gawlowski ’00, and Thomas J. Kavaler ’72.
“The Feerick Center is an essential part of the fabric of Fordham Law School,” said Dean Matthew Diller at the event. “The center embodies in action the motto of our Law School, “In the service of others” and by doing so sets an example for all of us about our responsibilities as citizens and attorneys.”