Honoring Three Distinguished Graduates at the Annual Alumni Gala
Seton Hall Law will be holding it's Annual Alumni Gala on May 10, 2019. The Public Servant Award will be presented to The Honorable Michael Shipp ’94, U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey; the Distinguished Graduate Award will be presented to Lynn Fontaine Newsome ’81, Partner, Newsome O'Donnell and Chair of the Seton Hall Law Board of Visitors; and the Exemplary Service Award will be presented to Michele Meyer-Shipp ’95, Principal and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, KPMG.
The Honorable Michael A. Shipp ’94 of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey will receive the Public Servant Award at Seton Hall Law School’s 2019 Alumni Gala on May 10, 2019.
Growing up in Paterson, Shipp was faced with a choice. “Many of my peers chose to use their voices by joining opposition groups. I decided that I wanted to utilize my voice through a career in the law,” recollects Shipp. “Over the years, I evolved from wanting to be a police officer to FBI agent to attorney.” After considering several options, he decided to attend Seton Hall Law School. Shipp recounts that “even back then, the law school had so much to offer that I felt at home immediately.” He has fond memories of his time here and recalls that “the Law School provided me with a realistic understanding of what it meant to be a good lawyer.”
Prior to Judge Shipp’s present appointment as a District Court Judge in 2007, he served as a United States Magistrate Judge, in several capacities in the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General, and as an associate with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. He also clerked for the Honorable James H. Coleman, Jr., on the New Jersey Supreme Court.
Looking back on his career, Judge Shipp says, “I have been called both to the law and to public service. There is no substitute for getting it right and making an impact. That is what drives me. The moments I appreciate most are those when I can help serve the public interest. I could not imagine doing anything else.”
Judge Shipp describes his swearing-in ceremony as being surreal: a culmination of the years that came before it. “I looked into the audience and saw friends from the many corners of my life—friends I grew up with, friends I made in law school, Seton Hall Law professors, my fraternity brothers, and my family. Right then and there, I mentally marked that moment in time. I thought, ‘I don’t know personally if it gets better than this!’”
Judge Shipp met his wife, 2019 honoree Michele Meyer-Shipp '95, at Seton Hall Law School. He attributes much of his success to Michele, his constant source of inspiration and encouragement.
“It will be an honor to receive the Public Service Award alongside Michele as she receives the Exemplary Service Award. Michele means the world to me and Seton Hall Law School has meant so much to both of us.”
Seton Hall Law will bestow the Distinguished Graduate Award on Lynn Fontaine Newsome ’81, Partner, Newsome O'Donnell at its 2019 Alumni Gala on May 10th. She is a double-degree alumna, also holding a B.A. in history and political science from the University.
Although she has always specialized in family law, Newsome has also been a major force in the bar more generally, serving in positions ranging from past President of the New Jersey Bar Association to current Chair of the Seton Hall Law Board of Visitors. She has received numerous honors and awards, but, for her, most important are the times when her personal and professional lives intersect.
“There is no singular greater moment than handing my son, Brian, his diploma at Seton Hall Law’s graduation in 2018,” Newsome says. “We were in Newark where my parents grew up, me as the Chair of the Board of Visitors, with my 87-year-old mother in the audience, and Cardinal Tobin on stage – it was just magical.”
Newsome views the law as her “anchor,” it having been such an integral part of her life for the past 38 years. “The law has been good to me, I want to be good to it,” Newsome declares.
As Chair, she is struck by the comradery of the Board of Visitors at each gathering. “This is a group of individuals across decades who value their degrees or connections to the law school,” Newsome explains, “that have a common purpose in wanting to enhance and make the school better. There is tremendous loyalty among them.”
For Newsome, the Distinguished Graduate honor is one shared with all those who have influenced her. “I don’t accept this just on my behalf,” Newsome says. “This is on behalf of my generation, my class, the hard work we have done and continue to do, the years we put in. This is for my parents, my family. It is for my partners, my employers over the years, for the work outside of the law. It takes a village.”
Most of all, this honor brings Newsome full circle. Not only has her son followed in her footsteps, but her grandmother worked in the law library in the 70s. “I used to visit her there, but neither of us would have foreseen this day. I feel as if I am receiving this honor in her honor.”
“The law has formed the foundation of who I am and how I navigate the world,” says Michele Meyer-Shipp ’95, recipient of the Exemplary Service Award at Seton Hall Law School’s May 10, 2019 Alumni Gala. As a Partner and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at KPMG, Meyer-Shipp has distinguished herself in all facets of work as a lawyer. “Even though I am not currently practicing attorney, the law’s core principles of equality, justice, and fairness are guiding principles in my daily work as a diversity strategist. These principles are what matter the most and are at the center of everything I do.”
Her path to law school followed short careers as a private investigator and a paralegal. It was while working as a paralegal that Meyer-Shipp realized that a career as an attorney might be the right path for her. This ultimately led her to Seton Hall Law 23 years ago. There, sitting in the Rodino Library, Meyer-Shipp dreamed of being “the voice of the people.” And there she met her husband, the Honorable Michael Shipp ’94 of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, who is the 2019 Alumni Gala Public Servant Award recipient.
Before joining KPMG, Meyer-Shipp specialized in employment law in the private and public sectors which set the stage for her recent work in guiding organizations through the process of creating and maintaining diverse and inclusive workplaces. At KPMG, she currently leads the National Inclusion and Diversity Team which oversees the firm’s strategies, policies and practices relating to diversity and inclusion at the firm. Her favorite part of her career? “Helping people connect with each other, navigate and embrace differences to forge stronger relationships and connections, thereby driving greater outcomes for the business.”
Outside the workplace, Meyer-Shipp dedicates time to her community and to her three sons’ schools (Miles, 20; Marcus, 18; and Mason, 17), where she has counseled faculty and administration on best practices to create inclusive school environments. She has done the same in her role on the boards of the National Organization on Disability, GLSEN (The Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network), and the American Council on Diversity, among others. “I strive to ensure that every individual is engaged and has a seat at the table.” says Meyer-Shipp. “I identify areas where diversity is lacking and/or where organizations have problems with promotions, engagement and retention; and then I help develop solutions to confront those issues.”
Meyer-Shipp describes being honored alongside her husband by their alma mater in one word: “Incredible. For Michael and I to go from being dreamy law school students sitting at our favorite table in the Rodino Library to sitting on the federal bench and in the C-Suite in positions that impact the lives of other human beings every single day – nothing short of incredible.” We are blessed and privileged to have been able to build such successful careers while raising three wonderful healthy, happy and well-adjusted sons. I couldn’t ask for anything more! It all started at Seton Hall Law!”