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Epsilon Pi Omega in the News

Welcome to Epsilon Pi Omega's News Page!  Keep up to date on what Epsilon Pi Omega is doing in the community!

Adrienne Adams Makes History as First Black N.Y.C. Council Speaker

Adrienne Adams had to overcome several obstacles on her way to being voted in on Wednesday as the first Black woman to serve as speaker of the New York City Council, the second-most-powerful position in city government.

She had a competitive race to retain her City Council seat representing southeast Queens, including a primary challenge from her predecessor, and entered the contest for speaker relatively late. Mayor Eric Adams did what he had said he would not do and tried, unsuccessfully, to tip the scales in favor of one of Ms. Adams’s rivals.

Ms. Adams, 61, a moderate Democrat, prevailed and will now lead the City Council, as New York grapples once again with being a center of the coronavirus pandemic while facing a difficult financial future.

The new City Council, which is more diverse than ever and has its first-ever female majority, also looks to be more ideologically divided than in recent memory. And in spite of public efforts to show they are on the same page, Ms. Adams already faces potential battles with the mayor on everything from the use of solitary confinement in the city’s jails to new legislation that would grant more than 800,000 legal residents who are not citizens the right to vote in municipal elections.

Ms. Adams, who lost her father to Covid, said her priority would be seeing the city through the pandemic and working to strengthen families that have been damaged in its wake.

“We meet here today as the most diverse Council in history, led by the first African-American speaker,” Ms. Adams said in a speech Wednesday after her colleagues voted nearly unanimously to make her speaker. “While this is a moment to celebrate this milestone, we must realize that we are here because New York is at the crossroads of multiple crises — each one competing for our full attention.”

In an interview, Ms. Adams noted that the pandemic had further exposed existing inequalities on issues ranging from medical care to child care, housing and access to high speed internet. “All roads lead through this pandemic,” she said. “When I think of my priorities, I think of rebuilding a city.”

Ms. Adams’s predecessor as speaker, Corey Johnson, said it would not be easy.

“We’re in this painful and uncertain time with Omicron and not knowing what this will do to our economy,” Mr. Johnson said in an interview. “This new Council has more members who are very far left and more who are far right. To get things done will be a challenge.”

He added: “But it’s not an impossible challenge because Adrienne has the skill set, track record and temperament.”

Yvette Buckner, a political strategist who is vice chair of 21 in ’21, a group that helped elect a record number of women to the City Council, said Ms. Adams would “be able to understand the needs of the city from a different lens,” partly because of her experience as a mother of four and a grandmother of 10.

Even as the country goes through “a long overdue reckoning of racial justice,” New Yorkers need to feel safe from discriminatory policing, “safe from the virus and safe from violence,” Ms. Adams said in her speech.

Mr. Adams will be her counterpart in that effort. Though he suffered a significant political loss when Ms. Adams amassed enough support to become speaker, they both say they have a good relationship.

Ms. Adams and Mr. Adams were classmates at Bayside High School in Queens in the late 1970s. Mr. Adams, discouraged by an undetected learning disability, has spoken often about not being a model student. Ms. Adams, on the other hand, was a cheerleader who founded a gospel chorus at the high school, which was mostly white at the time.

“I actually went to class. We knew of each other but we did not hang out in the same crowd,” Ms. Adams said of her time at high school with the mayor. “But we are so proud of each other.”

Click HERE for the FULL article

Queens Justice Cheree Buggs tapped for Appellate Term

Queens Supreme Court justice Cheree Buggs is taking on a new role in New York City’s courts.

Buggs ended the first week of the new year with the news that she had been selected to fill an opening on the Appellate Term, Second Department left by the retirement of Hon. David Elliot. She is only the third African-American judge from Queens to serve at the appellate level, and the first from Queens to serve on the Appellate Term.

“I’m very excited about my elevation,” Buggs told the Eagle. “I thought it would be something that would make my judicial experience [more] fulfilling and I was honored to be selected.”

Buggs will still preside over her usual Supreme Court cases, as the Appellate Court handles appeals from lower court rulings.

She’ll be drawing from her experience serving on the Civil Court bench, where she was first elected in 2007, and from being assigned to cover arraignments, she said.

“I'm happy to continue the work I'm doing on the Supreme Court and to be part of making decisions on appeals of the lower court — ‘the people’s court,’” Buggs said. “I’m looking forward to learning more about the matters that haven't been a regular part of my judicial experience, and am looking forward to learning and growing.”

“I’m very excited about my elevation,” Buggs told the Eagle. “I thought it would be something that would make my judicial experience [more] fulfilling and I was honored to be selected.”

“I'm happy to continue the work I'm doing on the Supreme Court and to be part of making decisions on appeals of the lower court — ‘the people’s court,’” Buggs said. “I’m looking forward to learning more about the matters that haven't been a regular part of my judicial experience, and am looking forward to learning and growing.”

For now, she’ll remain based out of Queens as Appellate proceedings continue virtually due to pandemic safety precautions but said she is prepared to take her expertise to the Brooklyn courthouse “when it comes time, and I trust at some time we’ll get there.”

“I’m ready,” she added. “I’m open to whatever the experience is; I don’t know everything I'll be encountering but am open to new [challenges]. We’ll find out what they are as we go forward.”

The Bayside-born judge’s level of preparedness is far from new. She was ahead of her classmates when she started at Benjamin Cardozo High School at 12 years old and when graduating law school at 20.

Buggs has worked in various parts of the Court System, but said she is determined to remain laser focused on her job facilitating justice for the people who appear before her.

“For me the most important thing is to stay focused on what my job is, what I’m charged with and what I'm doing,” she told the Eagle in October 2021. “People care that excellence is my aim.”

Click HERE for article

Applellate Justice Valerie Brathwaite Nelson tapped for NY Court of Appeals

A pair of legal leaders from Queens have been short-listed for a seat on New York’s highest court.

Appellate Justice Valerie Brathwaite Nelson, a former Queens Supreme Court judge from Hollis, and Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, an ex-Queens assistant district attorney from Astoria, are two of the seven finalists, all women, recommended to fill a vacancy on the New York Court of Appeals.

The state court system’s Commission on Judicial Nomination made its recommendations after reviewing 45 applications to replace retired Judge Leslie Stein. Gov. Andrew Cuomo will choose one of the nominees to the seven-member judicial panel by May 8. 

Brathwaite Nelson was first elected to the bench in Queens Civil Court in 2003 before moving to the Supreme Court in 2005. She grew up in Southeast Queens, attending schools in Hollis, St. Albans and Cambria Heights before attending college at Syracuse University and law school at George Washington University. 

She returned to her home borough to begin her legal career and has earned praise and support from the local legal community.

“Judge Brathwaite Nelson has long been a member of our Bar Association and has participated in many seminars and meetings with our membership,” the Queens County Bar Association said in a statement Saturday. “We are certain that she would make a fine addition to the Court of Appeals and we are all in her corner rooting for her.”

State Sen. Leroy Comrie honored Brathwaite Nelson as a “Woman of Distinction” in 2017. He said Monday that he is pulling for her to get the Court of Appeals spot.

“I think she is a great person and she’s been helpful in the community for many years,” Comrie said. “I’ve known her for many years and I know her dedication in her way, and she has distinguished herself at every level of the legal profession.” 

Singas was born and raised in Astoria and went on to attend Barnard College, Columbia University and Fordham Law. She began her legal career in the Queens DA’s Office before moving to the Nassau prosecutor’s office in 2006. She rose through ranks, heading the Special Victims Bureau and becoming chief assistant DA. She was named acting DA when her predecessor Kathleen Rice won a seat in Congress, and went on to win her first four-year term in 2015. She won a second term in 2019.

Singas did not say what motivated her to seek a seat on the high court, but called it “an honor” to be considered a finalist.

“I’ve dedicated my entire career to public service and the pursuit of justice, and I remain committed to the work the people of Nassau County elected me to do,” Singas said in a statement.

Naming a top county prosecutor to the state’s highest court has recent precedent. New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore served as Westchester County DA before Cuomo appointed her to the bench in Albany.

In a statement, Commission Chair E. Leo Milonas, a former appellate judge, noted the “extraordinary quality” of the applicants, of whom more than half were women. 

“The number of exceptional and diverse candidates reflects the unparalleled depth of the legal profession in New York,” Milonas said.

The other five candidates include three active judges: Hon. Ellen Nachtigall Biben, the administrative judge for criminal matters in the First Judicial District, a Court of Claims judge and and acting Supreme Court justice; Hon. Erin M. Peradotto, associate justice of the Appellate Division, Fourth Department; and Hon. Shirley Troutman, associate justice of the Appellate Division, Fourth Department.

The commission also recommended two lawyers in private practices: Kathy Hirata Chin, an attorney with the firm Crowell & Moring; Caitlin Halligan, and attorney with the firm Selendy & Gay PLLC.

The commission will next release a list of nominees for a second vacancy left by late Justice Paul Feinman, who stepped down just days before his death last month.

Click HERE for article

  • Friday, December 28, 2018 3:51 PM | Isannah S. "Izzy" Winley (Administrator)

    ADA Kelli Muse, formerly the Deputy Chief of the Civil Rights Bureau and Hate Crimes Unit, has been appointed Chief of the Hate Crimes Bureau.

    Read Complete Article Here

  • Sunday, January 22, 2017 10:04 AM | Victoria Fleary (Administrator)

    Induction was held inside a court room at the Queens Civil Court located at 89–17 Sutphin Blvd, Jamaica NY.

    In attendance were judges, attorneys, political leaders such Hon. Leroy Comrie, New York City Council Member Daneek Miller, Friends and Family, some familiar faces from the Guy R. Brewer Democratic Club, and still more from inside and outside her community. The Master of Ceremony was none other than Judge Cheree Buggs brother who is a renowned Radio Personality Fred Buggs.

    Judge Buggs has nearly nine (9) years experience as a sitting judge. She was elected to the Civil Court of the City of New York, Queens County in 2007; she then presided in Queens Family Court for one (1) year; Civil Court for seven (7) years--nearly four (4) of those years as a "hybrid" Acting Supreme Court Justice; Criminal Court (weekend arraignments) for approximately 4 1/2 years; and Supreme Court since January 2016. She has a diverse legal background, including having handled various matters as a solo practitioner before becoming a judge, as well having served in a quasi-judicial capacity for various City agencies (Parking Violations, Environmental Control Board, Department of Health), and having been a legislative attorney with the New York City Council for two (2) years. Judge Buggs has received numerous awards and accolades over the years for her role as a community servant. She considers it an privilege to be able to serve the people of her native Queens County as a member of the judiciary.

  • Monday, October 17, 2016 9:00 AM | Victoria Fleary (Administrator)
    High School for Math, Science and Engineering offers students community spirit, rounded academic program

    Surrounded by striking neo-Gothic buildings and lush green lawns, students at the High School for Math, Science and Engineering get more than a taste of college life.

    They use the same gym and cafeteria as students at the City College of New York campus where the high school is located. During breaks from classes, the high schoolers get to stretch their legs and play Frisbee on the quad.

    But the 475-student school also offers a supportive, tight-knit community to help teenagers in the vital years before college.

    “We believe in developing the whole child — academically, socially and emotionally,” said Principal Crystal Bonds. “That’s what works for us.”

    The rigorous academic program features an extended 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. day. Students have two 90-minute classes in the morning and two 90-minute classes in the afternoon. In between is a 45-minute lunch period and one elective class.

    All students take four years of math and four years of science. Freshman take two math classes.

    Each must choose a concentration by their junior year: the Mount Sinai biomedical research program, mathematics or engineering.

    The faculty includes former engineers and architects.

    Click HERE for the full article

  • Thursday, September 01, 2016 10:30 AM | Victoria Fleary (Administrator)

    Reposted from

    The Jamaica Branch of the NAACP will host a candidate forum for those seeking election in the 29th, 31st, 32nd and 33rd state Assembly districts, as well as the 10th and 14th Senate Districts beginning at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 6 at Majority Baptist Church in St. Albans.

    The event is co-sponsored by the Epsilon Pi Omega chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and the Zeta Zeta Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc.

    The NAACP is billing the forum as an opportunity for residents to meet candidates.

    “NAACP members and others fought and died for the right to vote in America,” the NAACP said in a statement. “Our participation in this process ensures that their dying was not in vain. The local elections are paramount to the overall quality of life and well-being of our community.”

    Members of the community are invited to attend, and will be welcome to ask questions of the candidates.

    Majority Baptist Church is located at 115-21 Farmers Blvd. Further information is available from the NAACP at (718) 723-3653.

  • Thursday, February 18, 2016 9:13 AM | Victoria Fleary (Administrator)

    Excerpt from the article:

    Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced ten appointments to fill vacancies in the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in all four of New York’s Judicial Departments. The justices selected today are a dynamic collection of talent and experience from the trial courts and reflect the excellence and diversity of the judicial system throughout New York State. 

    “Each of these individuals brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the state’s Appellate Division,” said Governor Cuomo. “These justices are each tremendously qualified and have shown a remarkable commitment to justice, and I am proud to appoint them to their new roles. Their service on the bench will benefit New Yorkers for years to come.” 

    Appellate Division-Second Department Appointees:

    The Governor appointed Supreme Court Justices Francesca E. Connelly and Valerie Brathwaite Nelson to fill two vacancies on the Appellate Division-Second Department. The Second Department comprises a ten-county downstate region that includes Kings, Queens, Richmond counties, Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley.

    Honorable Valerie Brathwaite Nelson
    Justice Brathwaite Nelson was elected to the New York State Supreme Court for the Eleventh Judicial District in 2004. Prior to her election as a Supreme Court Justice, she also served for two years as a Queens County Civil Court Judge. Before becoming a jurist, Justice Brathwaite Nelson served in a variety of public and private legal capacities, beginning as a Law Clerk with U.S. Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. Other public sector roles included, as a Law Clerk for the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, an Attorney with the National Labor Relations Board, Deputy Counsel with the New York State Department of Labor, an Attorney for New York State Senator Alton R. Waldon, Jr., and as an Attorney with the United State Postal Service. Justice Brathwaite Nelson was also a Senior Associate with Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard, P.C. before establishing her own private practice from 1989 to 1999. She has been an active participant and leader in various professional and community organizations, including a former Vice President of the National Bar Association’s Labor Law Section and the York College, City University of New York Community Advisory Council. Justice Brathwaite Nelson received her B.A. in Political Science from Syracuse University in 1975 and her J.D. from the George Washington University National Law Center in 1978.

  • Thursday, January 15, 2015 10:36 AM | Jeanine Marcel Taylor (Administrator)

    Congratulations to Epsilon Pi Omega member, Adrienne Adams on her appointment to the Board of Trustees of the Queens Borough Public Library, by Borough President, Melinda Katz!

    See link below for more info and press release!

    EPiO Member Appointed to Queens Library Board of Trustees

  • Sunday, December 28, 2014 2:24 PM | Jeanine Marcel Taylor (Administrator)

    On Thanksgiving morning, members of Epsilon Pi Omega participated in its annual Thanksgiving Feast/Clothing Distribution.  This event, which in years past took place at the African Poetry Theatre, took place at First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, NY.  The purpose of the event was to serve a hot meal to those in the community that do not have access to regular meals as well as an opportunity to donate gently used or new items of clothing for men, women and children.  This year there was also a large donation of seasonal wraps, hats, gloves and scarves.  

    View a clip from NY1 here:

    EPiO Thanksgiving

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