Recognizing Alumni During Black History Month
In recognition of Black History Month, Seton Hall University School of Law is celebrating alumni who have made a difference both in the black community and the legal profession.
Paulette Brown ’76, is Senior Partner and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Locke Lord. In August 2015, she became the first woman of color elected President of the American Bar Association. She is also the Past President of the National Bar Association. “The month of February serves as a reminder of the countless unwritten and untold contributions made and continue to be made by black people in America," says Brown. It is especially important for young black children and young adults so they might know the greatness within them and dream what they did not know they could.” ”
Karol Corbin Walker ’86, Partner at Kaufman Dolowich Voluck, is known as the first African American woman to attain partner at a major New Jersey firm (in 1995), as the first African American President of the New Jersey State Bar Association (in 2003-2004), and as the first African American President of the Association of the Federal Bar of New Jersey (in 2015). Walker inspires others when she reminds them that “with faith in themselves and a supreme being, their ability to succeed is unlimited.”
The Honorable Michael A. Shipp ’94 was appointed to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey in 2007. Previously, 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. “Black history is American history,” says Judge Shipp. “The two are so inextricably intertwined that it is impossible to tell the true history of America without telling the history of black people. Black History Month offers us an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of black people past and present.”
Michele Meyer-Shipp ’95 is Principal, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer and KPMG. 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 where she dreamed of being “the voice of the people.” 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.
Michellene Davis ’97 serves as Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer of RWJBarnabas Health. She also leads the Social Impact and Community Investment across the healthcare system. Having joined RWJBarnabas Health (previously Barnabas Health System) in 2009, Davis became the first woman and the first person of color to ever ascend to the position of Executive Vice President in its 152-year history. Before joining RWJBarnabas Health, Davis served as Chief Policy Counsel to former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, where she was the first African American to serve in this position in state history. She was the first African American and only the second women to serve as Acting New Jersey State Treasurer. “Black History is world history and world history is black history,” expresses Davis. “Persons of the African diaspora have created and contributed to the advancement of civilization as we know it. The recognition of Black History Month gives the country an opportunity to attempt to properly acknowledge the contributions of African Americans to the mosaic of American History.”
Marc Larkins ’97 joined Johnson & Johnson as Senior Counsel in the Law Department in September 2015. He is also Co-Chair of DASH (Diverse Attorneys of Seton Hall) Advisory Committee. Prior to joining Johnson & Johnson, Larkins served as the Acting State Comptroller for the State of New Jersey and served as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the New Jersey Schools Development Authority. Larkins previously served in various capacities as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey. “Black History Month serves as a time of celebration and remembrance – celebration of the accomplishments and sacrifices of so many, and remembrance of the fact that we are not alone in this journey through life,” says Larkins.
Marcus Hicks ’03 was recently named Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections. He was confirmed by the Senate to be part of Governor Phil Murphy’s Administration. With more than 15 years of public policy and legal experience, Hicks has been with the Department since 2007 serving as Chief of Staff for the Department and Director of Programs and Community Services. Hicks also previously directed the Office of County Services and was the Assistant Division Director of the Office of Transitional Services. Previously, he served as Policy Advisor to Policy Advisor to former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine and Policy Counsel to former New Jersey Governor Richard J. Codey.
Robert L. Johnson ’07, a former Assistant Counsel to the Governor of New Jersey, is currently Director & Chief Diversity Officer at Gibbons. He will be honored with the Exemplary Service Award at Seton Hall Law’s 2020 Alumni Gala in May. “Black History Month reminds me to remain mindful of all the sacrifices that generations (including my grandmother’s generation) before me have made on my behalf to provide me with the opportunity to attend Seton Hall Law School and become partner at a firm like Gibbons P.C.,” says Johnson. “I am proud to carry the obligation and responsibility of what I am reminded of during Black History Month to open as many doors as possible for people that have been historically disenfranchised.”
Marquis Whitney ’17, Associate, Commercial & Criminal Litigation at Gibbons says, “there is no secret that lawyers of color are not well-represented in the legal profession. We can make a difference by mentoring and supporting law students of color. Through mentorship, we can encourage the students to overcome stereotypes and help them create a pathway to be leaders in the future.” Prior to joining Gibbons, Mr. Whitney completed his clerkship for the Honorable James B. Clark, III, U.S.M.J., United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. While a student at Seton Hall Law, Whitney served as President of the Black Law Student Association.