New York Public Library General Counsel to Receive Bar Association Award Celebrating Black History

Tuesday, February 4, 2014 - 11:59

On Monday, February 24, The New York County Lawyers’ Association and the Metropolitan Black Bar Association will present the 12th annual Ida B. Wells‐Barnett Justice Award to Michele Coleman Mayes, vice president, general counsel, and secretary of The New York Public Library (NYPL). Visit for more information on this event taking place at the NYCLA Home of Law, 14 Vesey Street in Manhattan.

Named for Ms. Wells‐Barnett, one of the first African American women to run for public office in the United States, each year the award is presented to a woman of color whose life reflects her spirit and courageousness by distinguishing herself in the fight for racial and gender equality.

“The many accomplishments of Michele Coleman Mayes made her the right candidate to receive this year’s Ida B. Wells‐Barnett Justice Award,” says Hon. Pam Jackman Brown, Justice of the Supreme Court and Chair of the Ida B. Wells‐Barnett Justice Award Committee. “She has a distinguished background as a lawyer through which she has served in a variety of settings through many leadership positions and is much‐admired—a solid example for those looking to take similar paths. The New York County Lawyers’ Association along with the Metropolitan Black Bar Association is honored to present this year’s award to Ms. Mayes at the February 24 Awards Reception at the Home of Law.”

Ms. Mayes joined NYPL in August 2012 after serving as executive vice president and general counsel for Allstate Insurance Company since 2007. She served as a senior vice president and the general counsel of Pitney Bowes Inc. from 2003 to 2007 and in several legal capacities at Colgate‐Palmolive from 1992 to 2003. In 1982, Ms. Mayes entered the corporate sector joining Burroughs Corporation. After Burroughs and Sperry Corporation merged, creating Unisys Corporation, she was appointed staff vice president and associate general counsel for Worldwide Litigation. From 1976 through 1982, she served in the U.S. Department of Justice as an assistant United States attorney in Detroit and Brooklyn, eventually assuming the role of chief of the Civil Division in Detroit. Ms. Mayes received a BA from the University of Michigan and a JD from the University of Michigan Law School.