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SAPPHIRE ANNIVERSARY GALA & Community Excellence Awards


MAY 25, 2023

6:00-9:00 PM

TRIBECA ROOFTOP at 2 Desbrosses Street

Join us on May 25th at Tribeca Rooftop as we celebrate LGBT Bar NY's 45th anniversary at our Foundation's Annual Gala! The evening will offer dinner, drinks, dancing, and a rooftop space with 360-degree views of Manhattan and the Hudson River. Help us raise a toast to our community's accomplishments and prepare for the challenges that are to come!

The Annual Gala supports the charitable and educational activities of the LGBT Bar NY Foundation, including our pro bono legal clinicsLGBT Law Notes, Law Student Career FairJudicial Fellowship Program, and a host of additional activities benefiting the LGBTQ+ legal community and the public.

This Year's Community Vision Awardee

As part of the Annual Gala, LGBT Bar NY presents its Community Vision Awards to honor individuals and organizations for their distinguished record of service to our community.  This year, we are thrilled to announce our Community Vision Awardee, Governor Kathy Hochul.


Kathy Hochul is the 57th and first female Governor of New York State. She began her career in public service on her local Town Board, before serving as Erie County Clerk and as a Member of Congress for New York’s 26th Congressional District.

As Lieutenant Governor, she chaired the statewide Regional Economic Development Councils, and served as co-chair of the State’s Heroin and Opioid Task Force, Women’s Suffrage Commission, and Child Care Availability Task Force.

Since being sworn into office in 2021, Governor Hochul has led by establishing a bold vision for New York’s future. Governor Hochul has spearheaded comprehensive poli-cies and initiatives to help New Yorkers and their families, while building an economy that is stronger and more inclusive than before. Governor Hochul is making historic in-vestments in the people, places, and things to make that happen – from healthcare workers, small businesses, and working families to infrastructure, education, and work-force development. And in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s reckless decisions to strip away abortion rights and strike down commonsense gun regulations, Governor Hochul led the charge in Albany to protect reproductive health care and strengthen gun safety laws, ensuring New York continues to stand as a beacon of hope and free-dom for the rest of the nation.

Governor Hochul was born and raised in Western New York. She and her husband, Bill Hochul, are the proud parents of two children and one granddaughter.

This Year's Community Excellence Awardees

As part of the Annual Gala, LGBT Bar NY presents its Community Excellence Awards to New York-licensed attorneys, across all fields of practice, in honor of their commitment to the LGBTQ community and for high achievement in the profession. This year, LGBT Bar NY is thrilled to present its 2023 Community Excellence Awards to Kate L. Doniger, Esq., Hon. James L. Hyer, and Taylor D. James, Esq.


KATE L. DONIGER, ESQ. (she/her)

Partner at Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP

Kate represents companies, financial institutions, and individuals in complex civil litigation, internal investigations, and criminal and regulatory enforcement matters. Kate maintains an active public interest practice, which has included her representation of a survivor of Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse in a lawsuit against his estate, a Second Circuit appeal concerning the New York Board of Parole officials’ entitlement to absolute and qualified immunity, and Kaplan Hecker & Fink’s recent challenge to Florida House Bill 1557 (widely known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law).

Kate is a member of the firm’s diversity and inclusion committee and is active in its recruitment and professional development programs. She was honored by the National LGBT Bar Association & Foundation as one of its 2020 Best LGBTQ+ Lawyers Under 40. She was the firm’s 2022 Fellow to the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity. She serves on the Board of the Stonewall Community Foundation and the Federal Courts Committee of the New York City Bar Association.

Kate is a graduate of the New York University School of Law and holds a M.P.A. in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy from New York University. Before becoming a lawyer, she worked for the Center for Court Innovation as Deputy Director of the Red Hook Community Justice Center, the nation’s first multi-jurisdictional community court. 

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HON. JAMES L. HYER, J.S.C. (he/him)

Justice of the Supreme Court, 9th Judicial District

Hon. James L. Hyer, J.S.C., is a New York State Supreme Court Justice in the 9th Judicial District. James is the Chairperson of the 9th Judicial District Access to Justice Committee and a Commissioner of The Richard C. Failla LGBTQ Commission of the New York State Courts. 

Previously, James served as an Administrative Law Judge for the Westchester County Human Rights Commission, Corporation Counsel for the Legal Aid Society of Westchester County, engaged in private practice, and was an Adjunct Professor at Ramapo College. James was elected President of the Westchester County Bar Association, having served as the Co-Chair of the Public Service Committee, Co-Chair of the Law Day Committee, and a member of the Grievance Committee. James is the recipient of New Lawyer‘s Leadership Award by the Westchester County Bar Association in 2014, Leading Attorney Under 40 by Pace Law School in 2016, Human Rights Leadership Award by Westchester Residential Opportunities in 2017, and New York State Senate Commendation for Human Rights Advocacy in 2020. 

James has been an active member of the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA), as a member of the NYSBA House of Delegates, member of the NYSBA Nominating Committee for the 9th J.D., and member of the Task Force on Incarceration Release Planning and Programs. James was elected a Fellow of the NYSBA Foundation and is active in a number of other professional and civic associations.


TAYLOR D. JAMES, ESQ. (they/them)

Staff Attorney at The Legal Aid Society

Taylor James is an advocate for equitable development and community sustainability with over 10 years of experience addressing social injustices. Taylor offers legal services to nonprofit organizations and entrepreneurs on projects that revitalize low-income communities.  

Before practicing Community Development, Taylor was a Housing Litigation attorney, working to preserve affordable housing by providing legal representation to low-income New Yorkers facing eviction, which included litigation of rent overcharge claims and sub-standard living conditions. In their advocacy with the Right to Counsel Coalition, Taylor testified before the New York City Council in favor of Universal Access, codifying a right to counsel in Housing Court eviction defense proceedings and representing a historic expansion of legal representation for tenants in New York City. They have been active in legislative advocacy for both commercial rent stabilization and the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), leveraging community feedback to challenge inequitable systems. In their MRTA advocacy, they supported impacted communities, particularly LGBTQ+ and people of color through their work with the Start Smart Coalition by lobbying decision-makers to legalize recreational marijuana in New York. Taylor is currently co-chair of the LGBTQ+ Rights committee of the New York City Bar Association.  


Taylor received their AB in Government at Dartmouth College and their JD from the University of Maryland School of Law. 

This Year's Special Honoree

The LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York is one of the oldest and largest affinity LGBTQ+ bar associations in the country, and that is thanks to Professor Emeritus Arthur S. Leonard. On our sapphire anniversary, we celebrate and honor his accomplishments as we look back on our organization's 45 years of history.



In an era where being openly LGBTQ+ in the legal profession risked a determination of moral unfitness outright excluding you from the practice of law or permissible discrimination from your employer, Professor Leonard had the courage to place a personal ad in the Village Voice seeking to connect gay lawyers and students for a social and discussion group. Ten people were brave enough to meet in Professor Leonard’s living room, and the “New York Law Group” was born. Who could have known that day such a small conversation was planting the seeds that would later grow into the “Bar Association for Human Rights of Greater New York” and now the massive tree we affectionately refer to as LeGaL.

Professor Leonard’s service to both the Association and our companion charitable foundation did not end in 1978. In addition to being the founder and first board president, he has also served as  the Editor-in-Chief and lead writer of LGBT Law Notes, since 1980. Law Notes is the most comprehensive monthly publication covering the latest legal developments both in the US and abroad affecting LGBTQ+ people. During its publication, Professor Leonard has been covering landmark legal losses and victories from the treatment of people living with late-stage HIV seeking disability benefits at a time when HIV meant almost certain death to the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to marriage equality, to the passage of GENDA, and beyond. 


A favorite guest on the LGBT Bar NY podcast and a frequent speaker at our CLE courses, Professor Leonard continues to teach us the substance of the laws impacting all levels of LGBTQ+ public life and the value of bar associations dedicated to serving communities historically excluded from the practice of law.  




Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP


Proskauer Rose LLP


Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

Cooley LLP
Elefterakis, Elefterakis, & Panek
JPMorgan Chase Bank

Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Morrison Foerster

Seyfarth Shaw LLP
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz

Allen & Overy LLP

Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP

Barclay Damon LLP

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP

Cornerstone Research
Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
Foley Hoag LLP

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
Friedman Kaplan Seiler Adelman & Robbins

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP

Harris Beach PLLC
Jenner & Block LLP

Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP

Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP

Latham & Watkins LLP
Mayer Brown LLP
McDermott, Will & Emery

Outten & Golden

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

Selendy Gay Elsberg PLLC

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP


Capell Barnett Matalon & Schoenfeld LLP

Chemtob Moss Forman & Beyda, LLP

Cardozo OUTLaw

Rimland & Ahlers, P.C.

Wigdor Law LLP


The Kurland Group

Lise Law & Mediation PLLC

Shanies Law Office


Friends of the MBBA

Goodwin Procter LLP

Gunderson Dettmer

Kelley Drye & Warren LLP

The Lima-Corcoran Family

Moses & Singer LLP 

TransPerfect Legal Solutions

Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks, P.C.


Thomas H. Andrykovitz, Esq.

Ryan Bravata, Esq.

Daniel Corcoran

Bill and Elizabeth Crosby

Marissa Cunha

Michael Gallub

Benjamin Haglund, Esq.

Erik C. Harssema

Matt Horowitz

Ryan Karben, Esq.

Russ Korins, Esq.

Professor Emeritus Arthur S. Leonard

Augusto Lima

Jared Markowitz

Glenn R. McGillivray

Meredith R. Miller

Connie Montoya

Thomas H. Prol

Bonnie Rabin

Michael Robotti

Matt Rohrer

Tatiana L. Rugel

Josh Saterman

Palak Sharma

Hon. Michael Sonberg

Michael Weiner

Hayley R. Winograd

Steven R. Yuniver

*Sponsors listed have been confirmed as of May 24, 2023

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