Photo of Wendy Dessy

Wendy Hattler Dessy is the director of corporate social responsibility for Proskauer. She oversees all aspects of employee engagement, board service and corporate social responsibility for the Firm..

Through a host of initiatives, the Firm endeavors to advance education, raise awareness of veterans’ issues, and improve opportunities for women in Africa through literacy and education.

Some of her most impactful programming has included creating an Adopt-a-School initiative, and establishing partnerships with both The Institute for Veterans and Military Families and Village Health Works. Wendy has also created local partnerships across the country in the cities and communities where Proskauer employees live and work.

Prior to joining Proskauer, Wendy served as Executive Director for NYC Cool Roofs and Manager of Public/Private Partnerships for the Mayor’s Office of Service and Volunteerism from 2010 to 2014. Wendy held various positions within the Bloomberg administration and campaigns from 2005 to 2010.

Bloomberg and Proskauer are sponsoring Equal Justice Works Fellow Clay Pierce, who will work at the American Civil Liberties Union Voting Rights Project. Clay, a recent graduate of Columbia Law School, will work to advance voting rights for people with disabilities who are adversely affected by state laws that limit and criminalize voter assistance.

Financial literacy and independence are important for everyone, but even more important for women given the gender wealth gap. According to Forbes, “in the U.S., women-headed families only have 55% of the median wealth as compared to families headed by men.” As part of our observance of Women’s History Month, Proskauer hosted a workshop on the importance of financial literacy with Savvy Ladies, a non-profit committed to empowering women through financial education. Stacy Francis, founder of Savvy Ladies, and Lisa Zeiderman, Board Chair, shared best practices for taking charge of one’s finances, regardless of economic status or stage in life. They explained the difference between financial advisors, consultants and planners, and the mistakes to avoid when seeking a financial advisor. Above all, the pair highlighted the importance of staying engaged, prepared and in control when dealing with finances and not to leave financial matters up to a spouse, partner or family member.

Last week, the Proskauer community gathered for the 16th Annual Golden Gavel Awards ceremony to celebrate and honor those lawyers and staff members who went far above and beyond to contribute to the Firm’s pro bono, corporate social responsibility and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion efforts in 2023. Congratulations and thanks to the following colleagues for their extraordinary commitment to public service.

In September, I had the privilege of speaking on a panel at The New York City Bar Association titled “Securing Democracy For Tomorrow.” Moderated by United States Magistrate Judge Katharine Parker, the event focused on the importance of civic education. To start things off, Dawn Smalls, a partner at Jenner & Block, introduced the keynote speaker, Schools Chancellor David Banks. David is a strong supporter of civic education and its capacity to empower students as change agents that have a genuine, lasting effect in their communities. He shared powerful firsthand examples from his career, in which he witnessed the impact of student activism as a positive force for social change in some of our most underserved neighborhoods.

2023 is neither a presidential nor mid-term election year but nevertheless there are extensive efforts underway across the country to combat a host of recent measures meant to restrict the right to vote. The Bloomberg and Proskauer communities recently came together at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York for a discussion highlighting those efforts, addressing the health of our democracy, and presenting a call to action for the hundreds who attended this lunchtime event.

Moderated by Bloomberg reporter Greg Farrell, the speakers included Casey Smith, an Equal Justice Works Fellow funded by Bloomberg and Proskauer who works for the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, and Godfre Blackman, a Proskauer associate who recently served as the firm’s NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) Fellow, which enabled him to work directly with the LDF on various voting rights issues.

As we recognize Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I recently sat down with our friend Wayne Ho, CEO of the Chinese-American Planning Council (“CPC”), to learn more about the community issues the nation’s largest Asian American social service organization is working to address.  Since 2021, Proskauer has partnered with the CPC to host several educational workshop series with CPC teens, centering on social justice and academic enrichment. Proskauer employees volunteer as mentors on a regular basis, through programs like those sponsored by the CPC, imparting their expertise beyond the law to inform and inspire students to succeed in college, their careers and other aspects of their lives.

Developing climate solutions requires an all-hands on deck approach that leverages partnership across the public and private sectors as well as the philanthropic community as we face this defining issue of our time. Leaders from all three of these sectors gathered at Proskauer’s New York headquarters for a special Earth Day panel discussion on climate change that explored some of the strides being made toward climate change mitigation objectives.