Seven trendsetting African American women and a prominent trial lawyer will be honored at Adelphi University's 18th Annual President's Gala on Saturday, June 16.

Honorees Include the Adelphi 7 Sisters and Attorney Who Fought for 9/11 First Responders

Seven trendsetting African American women and a prominent trial lawyer will be honored at Adelphi University’s 18th Annual President’s Gala on Saturday, June 16, in Garden City, New York. Legendary sportscaster and Adelphi alumnus Al Trautwig ’78, ’17 (Hon.), is the master of ceremonies.

The University’s largest fundraising event, the Gala supports student scholarships. Adelphi provides more than $67 million in need- and merit-based awards to its approximately 5,000 undergraduates from across the country. Still, unmet financial needs for some students remain. To help close these gaps, net proceeds from the Gala will establish the endowed President’s Student Success Scholarship. The endowed scholarship qualifies for the Adelphi University Board of Trustees’ $5,000,000 Scholarship Challenge Match, resulting in the annual payout of the scholarship being matched dollar for dollar in perpetuity.

“Funds from the Gala will help students most in need—particularly those nearing graduation and running out of funding,” said President Christine M. Riordan. “We’re excited about honoring these worthy Adelphi graduates and, at the same time, building financial resources for our students.”

Seven Sisters in 1974

In 1974, Adelphi’s 7 Sisters’ first reunion after college days. Rear, from left: Charlotte (Matthews) Harris, Lorene Wilkerson, Diane (Hunter) Hazel, Lavida (Robinson) Allen, and Renaye (Brown) Cuyler. Seated: Joyce (Barnett) Montague and Jacquelyn Lendsey.

Nearly five decades ago, seven African American women—Renaye (Brown) Cuyler ’70, Lavida (Robinson) Allen ’72, Charlotte (Matthews) Harris ’69, Jacquelyn Lendsey ’71, Joyce (Barnett) Montague ’69, Lorene Wilkerson ’69 (formerly Lawrene Street), and the late Diane (Hunter) Hazel ’69—found one another at what was then a predominantly white Adelphi University. They gathered in places like the dining hall, where they often stayed until closing, to share opinions and advice. Whether they were discussing issues surrounding civil rights, professors, parents, emotional support or boyfriends, they found comfort together.

Beginning in 1974, the seven reunited every five years in celebration of their life-changing time at Adelphi—and later decided to make it an annual reunion. In 2012, they chose to establish an endowed scholarship fund to help support and inspire the life journeys of other African American women students at Adelphi. They say the scholarship is also a way for their special bond to live beyond them—as a tribute to, and a legacy of, their friendship. At the Gala, the Adelphi 7 Sisters will be honored with the President’s Award for Philanthropic Leadership.

Nicholas Papain '74, J.D.

Nicholas Papain ’74, J.D.

Adelphi will also honor Nicholas Papain ’74, J.D., partner with the prominent New York personal injury law firm Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo P.C. Papain, who has been with the firm since graduating from the American University Washington College of Law in 1978, served as its managing partner for almost 20 years. A Long Island resident, he is president of the parish council of The Archangel Michael Church in Port Washington, New York.

Papain played a key role in Sullivan Papain’s representation of the state of New York in its lawsuit against the major tobacco companies, which resulted in a historic $25 billion recovery for the state plus other relief projected to save the lives of more than 75,000 New Yorkers. He also played a major role in the negotiation of a $700 million settlement for injured 9/11 World Trade Center rescue and recovery workers. At the Gala, Papain will receive the President’s Award for Distinguished Service.

Master of ceremonies for the event will be alumnus and sportscaster Al Trautwig ’78, ’17 (Hon.), currently the pregame and postgame host for the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers on MSG. Throughout his career in broadcasting, which has included announcing 16 Olympic Games for NBC, ABC and CBS, Trautwig has been nominated for numerous prestigious awards. Among his honors are four national Emmy Awards, 28 New York Emmys and a New York State Sportscaster of the Year award. A member of Adelphi’s Athletics Hall of Fame, he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from the University in 2017.

The President’s Gala will take place from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on June 16 at The Garden City Hotel. Visit for more information, including biographies of the honorees and ticket and sponsorship opportunities.

For further information, please contact:

Amy Harrison
Director of Special Events and Engagement
Nexus Building, Room 213
p – 516.877.3751
e –

For further information, please contact:

Todd Wilson
Strategic Communications Director 
p – 516.237.8634
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