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Alumni Highlights and Class Notes
March 2017 Alumni Highlight
Keep up-to-date with your fellow Law School Alumni
Pace Law would like to keep up-to-date on your personal and professional news. If you have recently moved, had a career change, a job promotion, gotten married, had a child, or were given an honor or award, please share!
The Law School reserves the right to edit all Class Notes submissions.
When Karen Mazza ('82) graduated from SUNY Albany in 1979 with an English degree she had made up her mind that she would attend law school. After applying to several New York law schools, Karen was accepted into Pace and enthusiastically chose to attend.
"Pace was ideally located in White Plains, which gave me access to the legal market in the Westchester area and also in New York City. It was a fairly new school, but had already begun building a wonderful reputation for educating great lawyers in a practical manner." As a student, Karen was involved – she was the Vice President of the Student Bar Association and also volunteered as a student liaison for recruitment. "My time at Pace was thoroughly enjoyable. I loved my professors and felt they all genuinely cared about my future success as an attorney. I learned how to think and analyze-the most valuable skills you can learn in law school. I also made lifelong friends who I still keep in touch with."
After Karen graduated from Pace and passed the bar exam, she started as Deputy General Counsel for the New York City Department of Probation. After remaining there for four years, Karen moved on to become an assistant district attorney at the Westchester County District Attorney's Office. "Although I was only there for a short time, I learned that it was not what I saw myself doing long-term, so I sought out a different position and was lucky enough to be hired as the Deputy Inspector General for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority."
In 1992, after spending five years with the MTA, Karen became Counsel and Trustee to the Mayor's Pension Unit with the New York City Department of Finance. In this position, Karen was trustee for the NYC Finance Commissioner on the NYC Employees Retirement System, Police Pension Fund, Fire Pension Fund, Teacher's Retirement System and Deferred Compensation Plan. "I really learned the ins and outs of retirement plans in this position. I advised on various issues related to benefits and investments, and assisted in drafting various analyses on legislation for both the city and state. It was this position that allowed me to take the next steps in my career."
In 1994, Karen became the Pension Board Trustee and Liaison for the New York City Comptroller. Then, in 1997, Karen obtained the position of General Counsel with the New York City Employees Retirement System. "It was the exact position I had been seeking for most of my career. I enjoyed the day to day role I played and I found the work to be very challenging, but very interesting. Every day, for the almost twenty years that I was in this role, I provided advice and counsel on agency matters for a fund that serves over 350,000 qualified employees and retirees. I also evaluated legislation, drafted legislation, and managed a staff."
In 2016, Karen was promoted to Deputy Executive Director with the New York City Employees Retirement System. In this role, Karen provides strategic support to the business divisions of the largest municipal pension system in the United States. And, as of January 1, 2017, Karen was named the interim Executive Director of the New York City Employees Retirement System. "I can't imagine another career. It is extremely fulfilling. I truly learn something new every single day – and that is after over 20 years!"
If Karen could give any advice to current law students it would be to "go outside your comfort zone in terms of a career. You may be surprised at how much you like an area of law that you had never given a second thought to before. If someone had told me I would make a career out of being counsel to and advising on retirement plans, I would have laughed. And, I love it. So, try something new and give it a chance would be my advice."
Karen lives in Bayside, New York with her husband Ken Toback and their two children, James and Melissa. She loves finding time to read and knit.
Lisa Linsky was featured in the New York Law Journal as a lawyer who leads by example in public service.
John J. Ryan, was re-appointed as Municipal Court Judge in the Borough of Haworth and also for the Borough of Demarest Municipal Courts.
Marcia A. Jacobowitz became a new Partner at Jacobowitz and Gubits LLP. She also recently received The Dorothy Kartashevich Consumer Award from the Community Health Care Association of New York State. You can read more about Marcia here.
Karen Collins retired after extensive practice in New York and North Carolina. The last 8 years of Karen’s practice was with the firm of Hardison & Cochran in Raleigh NC.
David Isabel joined McManimon, Scotland & Baumann, LLC with offices in Newark, Roseland and Trenton, New Jersey, as a Partner and Chairman of its Environmental Group.
Caryn Gerst Teitelman was promoted to the Unit Chief of the Firearms Prosecution Unit at the Kings County District Attorney's Office where she have been employed since graduating Pace Law School.
Jeffrey M. Casaletto spoke at a breakfast seminar sponsored by Montclair State University Continuing Environmental Education for Professionals (CEEP). The program, “New Jersey Real Estate & Corporate Transactions: Dealing With Environmental & LSRP Program Concerns” was held Friday, December 2, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., in the Center for Environmental and Life Sciences at Montclair State University. He is a member with the firm of Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A. and practices in the environmental law group.
Uswah A. Khan was awarded the "new leaders in the law" award by the Connecticut Law Tribune at the Grand Ballroom in Hartford in early November. She is an attorney at Fairfield Family Law, LLC. You can read more here.
Jennifer Lofaro was honored by 914INC. at the sixth annual 2016 Women in Business awards luncheon in November. She is a partner with Bleakley Platt.
Stephanie Chow and Anthony Desiato (Pace Law ’12) were married on October 8, 2016.
Mani Tafari recently opened his own practice, The Law Office of Mani C. Tafari, Esq. His firm focuses on the areas of immigration, criminal defense, civil rights. Prior to this, Mani worked for the Legal Aid Society for eight years practicing criminal law and also representing parolees for all 5 boroughs for parole violations. Mani recently had success in a high profile case, which you can read more about here, here, and here.
Anthony Desiato, who has served in the Admissions office since graduating from the law school, has been promoted to the position of Associate Director of Admissions. He looks forward to continuing to dedicate his career to his alma mater.
Frank Joseph Polcino has had a busy year – he recently got married and also started a new job as IP Counsel at MakerBot Industries, LLC.
David Restrepo joined the Albany law office of Iseman, Cunningham, Riester & Hyde LLP as an associate attorney. He will focus his practice on health care and litigation. You can read more here.
Joan Archer was featured by the NYC Pro Bono Center as their October 2016 volunteer spotlight. You can read more here.