Cardozo Life: With J.D.s in Hand Alumni Pursue Something Different

People drawn to work in nonprofits often develop a passion for an area of public interest they had not considered previously or that they are drawn to serendipitously. That animating spirit often yields careers devoted to causes aimed at changing the status quo, sometimes with outsized impacts, or to public institutions. Think Randi Weingarten ’83, president of the United Federation of Teachers, or Ellen Cherrick ’80, who served for many years at Cardozo as both associate dean of career services and director of admissions, and now brings a comparable devotion to her post as the administrator of the NYU School of Medicine cardiothoracic surgery department, where she has been since 1999. A legal background, it turns out, is useful for either aim. “To have a legal background is enormously helpful because so many facets of my job have some legal components to it—everything from contractual agreements with the doctors, a lot of health care compliance issues for the State of New York, immigration matters with the fellows, residents, and research scientists,” says Cherrick.
For Janice Schacter ’90, law school was the means by which she would be able to change the world. She thought that would involve consumer advocacy, which she worked on for a summer in the New York Attorney General’s office. But she found her real mission closer to home when her 13- year-old daughter, Arielle, was diagnosed with hearing loss at the age of two and a half. This compromised her daughter’s pleasure on outings, to Disney World, for example, and even at highly visual events such as circuses. “Our life became so isolated, and I said this is ridiculous; we should move to the suburbs if we are not going to enjoy the culture of New York City, which was a big part of our life,” she recalled. When she investigated services and programs for her daughter, she found that none of the major hearing-loss organizations focused on culture, which prompted her to establish Hearing Access Program. “I thought if I am going to be working for free, which I have been for six years, it was going to be based on what my daughter needed, so the program has evolved from there.”

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