In welcoming guests to the Feerick Center for Social Justice’s annual award ceremony and benefit reception on October 21, President Fr. Joseph McShane called Dean John D. Feerick ’61 “one of Fordham’s great saints.”
The former Fordham Law dean’s legacy extends beyond his reputation on campus as “John the Good.” In 2006, the law school established the center to honor his commitment to public service. “The Feerick Center was founded to advance the work and values of John Feerick, and on the premise that we can all work hard, we can all give of ourselves, and that we can find nonzero sum solutions that make us all better off,” remarked Dean Matthew Diller.
Every year, the center hosts an award ceremony and benefit at Mutual of America to honor the careers and lives of those who have followed in Feerick’s footsteps by dedicating themselves to upholding the Fordham Law motto: “In the Service of Others.” Six of this year’s honorees were Fordham alumni.
Denis F. Cronin ’72 received the James F. Gill Spirit of Hope Award. One of New York City’s leading corporate lawyers, Cronin has served on numerous advisory and alumni boards at Fordham Law and Colgate University. He humbly summed up his philanthropy, noting, “What is really important in life is how many people you help along the way.” His classmate, Thomas A. Moore ’72, who presented Cronin with the award, remarked to the honoree, “I am reminded of the old adage, ‘it is better to give than to receive,’ and you have epitomized that in your professional and personal life.”
Three alumni were awarded the Spirit of Service Award: Nancy E. Delaney ’88, Sharon L. McCarthy ’89, and Antonio X. Molestina ’89.
Delaney is a partner at Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosel LLP, where she was the first female litigation partner in the firm’s history. Her fellow partner, Joseph D. Pizzurro, presented the award, noting that Delaney heads a women’s initiative at the firm that offers mentoring and professional development to young female lawyers. She has also worked with the Feerick Center since its inception, including on a project that assists New York City public school students in need with the public high school application process.
McCarthy and Molestina married after meeting at Fordham Law, and both were honored for their individual achievements. Before entering private practice, McCarthy led the Violent Crimes Unit at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and also served as the Fordham Law Alumni Association’s first woman president. Molestina is the managing director of ABM AMRO Bank N.V., and he devotes his spare time to supporting vulnerable communities, whether it’s assisting the homeless as a board member at the Bowery Residents Committee or volunteering in Dilley, Texas, with the Feerick Center, providing legal assistance to families seeking asylum at the border. Their friend and colleague David Esseks presented the pair with their awards.
Like Nancy Delaney, Stacey J. Rappaport ’96 is a champion for women in corporate law, and she has led several initiatives at Millbank LLP, where she is a partner, to promote gender equality in the workplace. In addition, she maintains a robust pro bono practice. Hon. Loretta A. Preska ’73, for whom Rappaport clerked after law school, presented Rappaport with the Champion of Justice Award. In accepting, Rappaport recalled a speech by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who called upon young lawyers to “repair the tears” in their communities. “The Feerick Center mends these tears and teaches Fordham law students that it is their responsibility to carry on that important work,” Rappaport remarked.
Both William J. Flynn GSAS ’51 and Thomas J. Moran dedicated their careers to Mutual of America, both serving in various leadership roles—Moran succeeded Flynn as chief executive officer when he retired in 1994. Additionally, both men dedicated their time and efforts to championing human rights causes. Flynn acted as an advisor to President Clinton and Senator George Mitchell during the Northern Irish peace process, and Moran, also a supporter of the NI peace process, worked tirelessly as a board member of Concern Worldwide, a global humanitarian nonprofit organization. For their careers of service and their contributions to Northern Ireland, Dean John Feerick presented Flynn and Moran with posthumous George J. Mitchell Lifetime Public Service Awards, accepted by William Flynn, Jr. and Joan Squires Moran.
Feerick also presented the Lifetime of Service Award to Mutual of America for its partnership with the center and commitment to philanthropy. The award was accepted by James J. Roth ’83.
The final award of the evening, the Life of Commitment Award went to the three founders of Terra Firma, an immigrant aid nonprofit: Brett Stark, Dr. Cristina Muñiz de la Peña, and Dr. Alan Shapiro. Since 2013, Terra Firma has worked to provide legal, medical, and mental health assistance to unaccompanied immigrant children. Recently, the organization has worked with the Feerick Center to visit detention centers on the US-Mexico border; the organization also testified before Congress about the inhumanity of family separation of asylum-seekers. Stark noted that today, “we are at a critical turning point,” making Terra Firma’s mission more crucial than ever. Dora Galacatos ’96, executive director of the Feerick Center, presented the award and lauded the organization for their holistic approach, telling attendees, “Hundreds of children have had their lives changed, enriched, and stabilized no doubt in great part because of [Terra Firma’s] visionary and dedicated service and leadership.”