PHILADELPHIA/NEW YORK (May 16, 2019) – Howard Shecter, senior M&A counsel in Holland & Knight's Philadelphia and New York offices, received the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor at a gala ceremony at the Ellis Island Museum on May 11.
The Ellis Island Medals of Honor are presented annually by the Ellis Island Honors Society to a select group of individuals in recognition of their accomplishments in their fields and service to the nation. According to the foundation, the medals "embody the spirit of America in their salute to tolerance, brotherhood, diversity and patriotism. Honorees may be native born or naturalized, but most importantly, they are individuals who have made it their mission to share their wealth of knowledge, indomitable courage, boundless unique talents and selfless generosity with those less fortunate."
As the former chairman and managing partner of a large international law firm, Morgan Lewis, Mr. Shecter is among the leaders of the legal industry. He is one of the most respected M&A lawyers practicing today, internationally recognized for his wide-ranging M&A experience and extensive background advising clients on corporate governance and board oversight matters, representing many of the world's leading corporations. He also has frequently served as a board member for both public and private companies. Currently, he is chairman of the board of Venerable Insurance and Annuity Company, a portfolio company of Apollo Global Management.
Mr. Shecter has had a strong interest in public service throughout his 50-year professional career. He was profoundly influenced by his attendance at the 1963 March on Washington, where he heard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. give his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. A year later, as a student at Harvard, he led a campus-wide campaign to raise money for the legal defense of a fellow student who had been arrested and imprisoned in Americus, Ga., while conducting a peaceful voter registration drive. Civil rights and legal services to the indigent have been two of his primary areas of activity. He served for 10 years as a trustee on the board of Community Legal Services, a federally funded program to provide legal services to indigent families in inner cities, and was a director of the Urban Affairs Coalition, which promotes African American business enterprises.
In addition, Mr. Shecter has devoted significant time to providing free legal services to first- and second-generation immigrants who find themselves overwhelmed by the American legal system and more affluent adversaries. He also has supported several medical causes, including leading fundraising efforts for Alzheimer's research and serving on the board of the University of Pennsylvania Institute on Aging. He also served on the board of and raised funds for the Pennsylvania Arthritis Foundation, where he worked closely on the national level with Betty Ford, the wife of former president Gerald Ford.
"I am deeply honored and humbled to be among those chosen to receive this important award," said Mr. Shecter. "I have had a great deal of good fortune in my life: a loving family, wonderful friends, good health and success in my chosen profession. I have always believed that it was my duty to help, in whatever way I could, those less fortunate."
In addition to Mr. Shecter, this year's honorees included such luminaries as David Beasley, executive director of the United Nations World Food Program; Trammel Crow, philanthropist; Dr. Sanjay Gupta, practicing neurosurgeon and chief medical correspondent for CNN; John Mack, former chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley; Congressman Adam Schiff; Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO; New York Times columnist Bret Stephens; and King Mohammed VI of Morocco. Previous recipients have included seven presidents of the United States, several world leaders, multiple Nobel laureates and countless leaders of industry, education, the arts, sports and government.