On April 21st, Tri-County Scholarship Fund hosted its second annual “Lawyers for Tri-County” dinner at the Park Avenue Club in Florham Park. The event honored four esteemed members of the legal profession: Francis Donahue, Esq. of Donahue, Hagan, Klein and Weisberg, LLC; John Dughi, Esq. of Dughi, Hewit and Domalewski, P.C.; Wendy Johnson Lario, Esq., Partner, Greenberg Traurig, LLP; and Lillian Plata, Esq., Partner, McManimon, Scotland and Bauman, LLC. More than 100 lawyers attended to show their support, in addition to other guests.
The Lawyers Dinner supports the Freedom Scholars Program of Tri-County Scholarship Fund. Freedom Scholars are a group of particularly gifted inner-city and financially disadvantaged high-school children from Morris, Passaic and Sussex counties. Working with some of the best private high schools in the area, the fund contributes generously to the cost of tuition for these students and that contribution is matched by the participating schools. Parents also contribute, thereby making a top-flight secondary school education available to children that could not otherwise afford it.
The results are transformative: in areas of New Jersey where the high school graduation is less than 50%, Freedom Scholars from the same areas have a 100% high school graduation rate and a 100% college acceptance rate. This year’s Freedom Scholars graduates will attend Drew University, Montclair State University and Pace University among others, most of them on full tuition scholarships.
Guests and honorees were thrilled to hear from Freedom Scholar Genesis Pena, a graduating Senior at De Paul Catholic High School in Wayne. A second generation Dominican American, she inspired all present with these words: “Being a female, a minority, the child of a single parent, the resident of an inner city: the list of challenges can go on and on, but I have never let these labels hold me back from walking a path of excellence. I have faith in God and in myself. Any challenge that has come my way, no matter how difficult, has never made me feel sorry for myself. On the contrary, with the help of God, the support of my family, and the love and lessons learned from my amazing mother, I have used every obstacle as a stepping stone to my success.” Genesis will attend Montclair State University in the Fall.
Karol Corbin Walker, Esq., of LeClairRyan emceed the event. Gregory Floyd, President of Tri-County provided opening remarks, and Tim Duffy, Esq., of Coughlin & Duffy, Chairman of Tri-County, closed the awards ceremony. The event was chaired by Christopher Stracco, Esq., a Tri-County Trustee, and partner at the Day Pitney law firm. Chris as well as Robin C. Bogan, Esq., a partner in Pallarino & Bogan, Laurence J. Cutler, Esq., of counsel to Laufer, Dalena, Cadicina, Jensen & Boyd, and Mark Salah Morgan, Esq., a partner at Day Pitney LLP, were members of the dinner committee.