Chamber honors leaders in legal profession

The Queens Chamber of Commerce will honor three leaders in the legal industry at its annual golf outing on Thursday.

They are Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, Albert Pennisi, special counsel to Daniels Norelli Cecere & Travel PC and former chamber president, and John “Sean” Crowley, a partner in the office of Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP.

D.A. Richard Brown

Richard A. Brown was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Cambria Heights. He graduated from Hobart College in 1953 and the New York University School of Law in 1956.

Judge Brown spent nine years serving in many different legal positions on behalf of the State Senate and Assembly. In September of 1973, he became a member of the judiciary.

After serving in Criminal Court and as supervising judge of Brooklyn Criminal Court, Judge Brown was elected a Justice of the Supreme Court of Queens County in 1977.

After again returning to Albany to serve as counsel to Governor Hugh Carey, he served ten year with the Appellate Division after being appointed by Carey and twice by Governor Mario Cuomo.

On June 1, 1991, Judge Brown accepted Cuomo’s appointment as district attorney of Queens County. Since then, he has won re-election seven times. Under his leadership, the Queens County District Attorney’s Office has gained a reputation as one of the finest prosecuting offices in the country.

Judge Brown is a past president of the New York State District Attorneys Association and a member of the New York State Bar Association, New York City Bar Association and Queens County Bar Association. He also serves as chair of the Albany-based New York Prosecutors Training Institute.

Judge Brown and wife Rhoda have three children and two grandchildren.

(Natalie Rios)

Albert Pennisi

Albert F. Pennisi is a man whose life is a picture of longevity and staying the course.  He recalls how his long career in law began, sitting in his pre-law course as an undergraduate at St. John’s University.

“I really like this, is challenging, and I can help people,” he remembers thinking. Forty years later, he can still say the same thing. “Working 10-plus hours a day, you have to like what you do,” he said.

His legal career began in 1967 when he passed the New York State Bar exam. He practices real estate law, working with developers, builders, and property owners, who have grown with him as his practice has expanded.

“Clients become part of your family, staying with you for decades,” he said. “Attorneys are like detectives, especially with litigation. We have to be very deliberate so that clients feel they are protected.”

Pennisi now works with several corporations, helping business owners with contracts, mergers, and acquisitions, as well as provides trusts and estates services.

“Knowing you have made a difference, satisfaction in setting a matter with results, and seeing genuine gratitude,” is what keeps Pennisi motivated. “It’s not just about working for a fee, but getting results”.

Recently, Pennisi was able to reunite a newly-wed couple. The couple went oversees for their honeymoon, but upon their return to the U.S. the bride was unable to get past customs due to her citizenship status.  Through a two-week process, Pennisi was able to get her paroled.

“Knowing I can make a difference in the lives of individuals, not just businesses, is something to be proud of,” he said.

Pennisi, believes in the importance of being a part of a community, which is what led to his involvement in the Queens Chamber of Commerce. He has been an active member since 1985, serving as president from 2009 through 2015.

“You have to give of yourself,” he explained. “It takes many years to build a reputation and build people around you.”

Pennisi has been married to his wife Annette for 47 years. They have two grown children, one who followed their mother’s footsteps into education and another who followed their father into law.

(Christa Lopez)

John “Sean” Crowley

Sean Crowley was born and raised in Woodside and lives in Forest Hills with his family. He is currently a partner in the New York City office of Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP.

“I’m really very privileged to be in the company of someone like Judge Brown,” Crowley said of being one of three honorees at the annual golf outing. “He epitomizes what public service is all about to our nation.”

In addition to his legal career, Crowley is active with a number of organizations in Queens. A member of the Queens County Bar Association, he is also past president of the Brehon (Irish) Law Society of New York City.

“Sean Crowley was and still is an instrumental and distinguished member of the Brehon Law Society of New York, a law society dedicated to human rights around the world and peace in a united Ireland,” said current president Jennifer Frankola Crawford. “He was deeply committed to ensuring a connection remained between Irish-America and Ireland.”

Crowley has also served on the board of directors of the Maz Fund, which is no longer in operation but while in existence helped put a number of kids through college whose parents died as a result of a violent crime. Crowley also coached CYO baseball and basketball at St. Mary Winfield.

“Queens is home, and anytime you have home you appreciate where you’re from,” he said. “You give back, you want to be helpful to the business community and to charitable communities.”

His relatives came to Queens as immigrants and have taught him the value of being present and active in his community.

“My father always said, ‘don’t wait for others, get out there and perpetuate change,’ so it’s always been expected of me to get off the bench and get into the game of life to try to make a difference in people’s lives,” Crowley said.

“Sean Crowley demonstrates giving back to the community in all he does,” said chamber executive director Thomas Grech. “He has supported the Queens Chamber by not only referring us new and prospective members, but also utilizing our services as well for his trusted clients.

“His roots are deep in Queens County and his dedication to philanthropic, business and social causes is second to none,” he added.

(Meghan Sackman)

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