January 23, 2018: New York State Bar Association Honors Legal Services CEO and Late Associate Justice for Diversity Efforts

Barbara Finkelstein, CEO of Legal Services of the Hudson Valley (LSHV), and the late Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, who served as an associate justice of the Court of Appeals, were honored with 2018 Diversity Trailblazer awards on January 22 at the State Bar’s Annual Meeting in New York City. The award was presented by the State Bar’s Committee on Diversity and Inclusion.

“Ms. Finkelstein has served as the executive director for the Legal Services of the Hudson Valley since 1995, strengthening the organization through diversity and inclusion, including the drafting and adopting of the Leadership and Diversity Principles and Goals, which reflect LSHV's mission to serve a diverse client community and to support a diverse staff,” said the Committee Chair Sandra Irby Buchanan (New York City).

Finkelstein is the first woman to lead LSHV. Since 1995, the nonprofit has grown from a $2 million budget to a $16 million budget, providing free legal services to nearly 600,000 low-income people in Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Orange, Rockland, Sullivan and Ulster counties.

Seeking a staff that is diverse like her clients, LSHV has nearly 70 percent female employees and nearly 40 percent non-white. This past fall, LSHV started an Inclusion Council consisting of 21 staffers who organize events and projects for employees and communities, hold formal diversity and inclusion training, and began a mentoring pilot program.

“We are also honored to award the family of the late Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam a posthumous Diversity Trailblazer award for Judge Abdus-Salaam's decades of service and leadership for diversity and inclusion in the legal community and her mentorship of diverse attorneys,” said Buchanan.

Abdus-Salaam, appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2013, was the first African American woman to serve on the Court of Appeals. Before that she spent more than two decades as a justice in the state Supreme Court and in the Appellate Division of the First Department.

About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, the Association has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.

Contact: Christian Nolan 
Senior Writer
cnolan@nysba.org
518-487-5536