2024 LACA Spring Dinner pays tribute to the pursuit of purpose and service

NYU Law’s Law Alumni of Color Association (LACA) once again gathered to honor the achievements of NYU Law students and alumni of color at its annual spring dinner on Friday, April 5 at Cipriani 25 Broadway. Now in its 46th year, the event brought together hundreds of alumni, faculty, supporters, students, and prospective students, embracing the theme “Rooted in Purpose, Inspired to Serve.” 

LACA President Rafiq Kalam Id-Din II ’00, the first to address the attendees, emphasized the importance of this year’s theme not only as an embodiment of the NYU Law’s public service ethos, but as a guiding principle for all legal professionals. “It is in our purpose that we will find our inspiration to strive,” he said. “We will find our inspiration to persist. And most of all, we will find our inspiration to heal.”

Dean Troy McKenzie ‘00, Cecelia Goetz Professor of Law, remarked how in his student days the LACA dinner had been a “small affair in D’Agostino Hall,” and he encouraged admitted students to take note of the robust and supportive community that NYU’s LACA chapter provides. “I want you to look around. I want you to feel the love in this room,” McKenzie said. “And I want you to know that this is what the NYU Law community is all about.”

The event included tributes to two notable members of the NYU community: Carol Robles-Román ’89, New York City’s former deputy mayor and an equal justice activist, who died in 2023, and the late civil rights activist and longtime NYU Law professor Derrick Bell. Students Galia Pino ’25 and Rita Wang ’26 were both presented with Derrick Bell Scholarships for public service. Ed Kwarteng-Siaw ’25 was awarded the Rasheed M. McWilliams Scholarship and Janée Dennis ‘25 was awarded the inaugural Lisa Marie Boykin Scholarship. 

LACA honorees and others at LACA Spring Dinner 2024
From left: Stan Germán ’95, Rafiq Kalam Id-Din II ’00, Terry Maroney ’98, Nikhil Mittal ’98, Troy McKenzie ’00

LACA also recognized three alumni for outstanding contributions to the legal profession with the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award: Stan Germán ’95, executive director of the New York County Defender Services; Terry Maroney ’98, Robert S. and Theresa L. Reder Chair in Law and Professor of Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University Law School; and Nikhil Mittal ’98, founding partner and president at Molecule Ventures LLC and an NYU Law trustee.

Keynote speaker Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for Civil Rights at the US Department of Justice, discussed the DOJ’s current priorities, including protecting voter rights and its efforts to close the nation's racial wealth gap. She concluded by evoking the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, encouraging attendees to cultivate what King termed as “a kind of divine discontent.”

“For those of you who are serving, or who are inspired to serve—in a government, on NYU staff, at a corporate law firm, a corporation, a legislative or traditional role,” she said, “let us all leave here this evening with a little bit of that divine discontent and a fierce determination to be the kind of justice warriors that can help ensure that we reach that promised land, where there is equal justice under law for all of us.”

Posted April 30, 2024

Attendees at LACA Spring Dinner
Attendees at LACA Spring Dinner taking a selfie together
Speaker at LACA Spring Dinner 2024