Commission Structure
Independent Review Committee

The Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government consists of 11 members with staggered four-year terms. The breakdown of nominations/appointments to the new Commission is as follows:

  • the Governor (3);
  • Senate President and Majority Leader (2);
  • Senate Minority Leader (1);
  • Assembly Speaker (2);
  • Assembly Minority Leader (1);
  • the Comptroller (1); 
  • the Attorney General (1).

 

Instead of elected officials making direct appointments to the Commission, as has historically been the case, the Ethics Reform Act of 2022 created the Independent Review Committee (“IRC”) comprised of the Deans of the State’s 15 law schools to determine whether or not nominees should be confirmed for appointment.

Commission members appoint an executive director who serves a four-year term and is responsible for carrying out the duties and responsibilities of the Commission.

 

Commissioner Member
Frederick A. Davie

CHAIR

Chair Frederick A. Davie began his tenure as a Commissioner in August 2022 when the Independent Review Committee approved Governor Hochul’s nomination of Mr. Davie to the Commission. Elected as Interim Chair in September 2022, the Commission elected Mr. Davie as its permanent Chair in March 2023. As Chair, Mr. Davie leads the 11-member Commission in its work to oversee, regulate, and ensure compliance with New York State’s ethics and lobbying laws, and to restore the public’s trust in state government by leading with integrity and transparency.

Mr. Davie is Senior Strategic Advisor to the President at Union Theological Seminary, where he had served as Executive Vice President for a decade. As Senior Strategic Advisor, he provides counsel on public programming, racial justice and equity, social justice and community engagement. Mr. Davie is also a Senior Fellow at Interfaith Youth Core.

As Executive Vice President at Union, Mr. Davie was the institution’s chief administrative officer and served as an advisor to the President on strategic planning, institutional advancement, and vision implementation. He also served as the administrative liaison for all work of the President, coordinating the efforts of executive office staff and senior staff in relation to the President. Over his ten-year tenure, Mr. Davie recruited Trustees with a vision for the future; supported the recruitment of world-class students; assisted with maintaining a stellar faculty; recruited and hired committed and highly competent staff; improved community life; coordinated a committee of Trustees and executive staff to develop and implement a plan to address the campus’ infrastructure needs; resourced the creation of a critical path to financial sustainability; and enhanced Union’s voice and presence in the public square.

Mr. Davie is also former Vice Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), appointed by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer in June 2020. USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. government commission dedicated to defending the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad. USCIRF makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress.

Mr. Davie has served in several external leadership roles to address public policy and social issues. New York City Mayor Eric Adams appointed Mr. Davie to an advisory board tasked with implementing the Racial Justice Charter Amendments in April 2023. From September 2016 until January 2022, Mr. Davie served as a member of the NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio. He was the Chair of the CCRB from December 2017 until January 2022.

In March 2021, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Mr. Davie to the Racial Justice/Charter Reform Commission of the City of New York, a commission tasked with reviewing the City’s Charter and delivering proposals for charter revisions, as well as policy and programmatic revisions on the state and federal level. The Commission focused on significant structural changes to the powers, structures, and processes of New York City government that underlie sources of inequity, and submitted three NYC Charter changes to advance racial equity, approved overwhelmingly by the voters in November 2021.

In January 2021, Mr. Davie participated in the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service at the invitation of President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Vice President Kamala Harris and collaborates with the White House on several issues related to faith and public policy.

Mr. Davie also served on President Barack Obama’s transition team, performing agency reviews for faith-based and community initiatives, and accepted an appointment by President Obama to the White House Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. As a member of the White House Council, Mr. Davie advised on strategies for more effective partnerships between the White House, federal agencies and community and faith-based organizations. Mr. Davie provided leadership for the inclusion of non-traditional families and marginalized populations in policy formation. In addition, Mr. Davie has been an interfaith advisor for the Democratic National Committee.

At the invitation of former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Mr. Davie joined the Board of Directors of Climate Reality in July 2021. Climate Reality’s mission is to catalyze a global solution to the climate crisis by making urgent action a necessity across every sector of society.

Mr. Davie has extensive experience in senior-level roles in philanthropic and social and economic justice organizations, including Public/Private Ventures and the Ford Foundation. At Public/Private Ventures, Mr. Davie served as President and CEO, promoted from Senior Vice President. As SVP, Mr. Davie developed a model national program for the successful re-entry of formerly incarcerated persons and delivered a White House keynote address on the same in 2007. As a Program Officer at the Ford Foundation, Mr. Davie developed a national program to support local faith-based and community juvenile justice programs to reduce rates of incarceration and recidivism.

Mr. Davie has also served in several leadership roles in public administration for the City of New York, including Deputy Borough President of Manhattan, Chief of Staff to the Deputy Mayor for Community and Public Affairs, and Chief of Staff (Special Assistant) to the President of the NYC Board of Education.

Mr. Davie’s community and civic engagement work includes executive-level positions with New York City Mission Society, Brooklyn Ecumenical Cooperatives, and the Presbytery of New York City.

Mr. Davie serves on the Board of Trustees of Greensboro College, his alma mater. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Interfaith Center of New York. He has served for decades as a member of the Advisory Board of the Interfaith Assembly for Homelessness and Housing. Mr. Davie is a founder and past Chair of Faith 2020/Faith Forward, a multi-faith organization committed to supporting progressive political campaigns and causes.

A Presbyterian minister in the Presbytery of New York City, Mr. Davie has served the national Presbyterian Church, the NYC presbytery, and local congregations in various volunteer capacities.

Mr. Davie holds a B.A. in Political Science from Greensboro College ’78, where he earned Dean’s List and the Harold H. Hutson Award distinctions. Mr. Davie has an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School ’82, where he was a Benjamin E. Mays Fellow of The Fund for Theological Education, and President of Yale Black Seminarians. He is also a recipient of Yale Divinity School’s Distinguished Alumnus Award for Community Service. Mr. Davie was a Charles H. Revson Fellow at Columbia University, from 1989 – 1990.

He lives in New York City with his husband, Michael Adams, who is a lawyer and CEO of SAGE.

Chair Davie resides in Queens county.
Headshot of Interim Chair Frederick Davie

Commission Member
Hon. Leonard B. Austin

VICE CHAIR

Vice Chair Austin has served as a Commissioner since August 2022, when the Assembly Speaker nominated him, and the Independent Review Committee approved his nomination, to the position. Prior to being elected Vice Chair in March 2023, Commissioner Austin held the position of Interim Vice Chair of the Commission since September 2022.

Vice Chair Austin was first elected to the Supreme Court of the State of New York in 1998 and re-elected in 2012. Before his elevation to the Appellate Division, Second Department as an Associate Justice in March 2009, Vice Chair Austin was assigned to a dedicated Matrimonial Part in Suffolk County and thereafter served in the Commercial Division in Nassau County. Prior to his election to the bench in 1998, Vice Chair Austin privately practiced law. In 1980 and 1981, he served as an Associate Counsel to Assembly Speaker Stanley Fink.

During his tenure in the Commercial Division, Justice Austin drafted the original Statewide Rules of the Commercial Division of the Supreme Court. In addition, since 2004, he has served on the Pattern Jury Instruction Committee which is responsible for drafting jury charges and regularly updated commentaries on the law.

Vice Chair Austin is the author of several articles dealing with Equitable Distribution and New York City’s Forfeiture Law, as well as an article in the Banking Law Journal entitled, “The Impact of New York’s Commercial Division on Banking Litigation.” Vice Chair Austin served as the President of the American College of Business Court Judges, the Theodore Roosevelt Inn of Court, and the Presiding Justice of the Judicial Section of the New York State Bar Association.

Retiring from the Bench in early 2022, Vice Chair Austin is now an arbitrator/mediator with National Arbitration and Mediation (NAM). He taught as an adjunct law professor at Hofstra Law School from 2002 to 2020. Vice Chair Austin is a graduate of Georgetown University and Hofstra University School of Law.

Vice Chair Austin resides in Nassau county.
Commission Member Hon. LEONARD B. AUSTIN

Commission Member
Ava Ayers

Commissioner Ayers joined the Commission in February 2023, after her nomination by the Attorney General and approval by the Independent Review Committee.

Commissioner Ayers is an associate professor of law at Albany Law School, where she previously served for five years as Director of the Government Law Center. She teaches courses on the law of government, administrative law, legal ethics, and civil procedure.

Before teaching, Professor Ayers worked for nine years in the office of the New York Attorney General, where she was a Senior Assistant Solicitor General. She served both as a supervisor and as lead counsel in various cases involving immigration law, federalism, constitutional rights, environmental law, and other issues. Professor Ayers clerked for the Honorable Sonia Sotomayor on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and for the Honorable Gerard Lynch in the Southern District of New York. She graduated first in her class from Georgetown Law in 2005.

Professor Ayers is the author of articles on immigration law, federalism, legal ethics, and other subjects, as well as the book, “A Student’s Guide to Law School,” published by the University of Chicago Press. Before her gender transition in 2020, she was known as Andrew Ayers.

Commissioner Ayers resides in Albany county.
Headshot of Commission Member Ava Ayers

Commission Member
Dolly Caraballo

Ms. Caraballo was nominated by New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and unanimously approved by the Independent Review Committee to serve as a Commissioner on the New York State Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government.

Ms. Caraballo is a managing member of Caraballo & Mandell, LLC, a general practice law firm established in 1999, specializing in Commercial and Real Estate matters. She has extensive experience handling complex Commercial and Real Estate disputes and transactions. Ms. Caraballo has litigated cases in the U.S. District Court for the Southern and Eastern District of New York, the Supreme Courts of the State of New York, the Civil Court of the City of New York, various alternate dispute forums, and has briefed and argued appeals in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Divisions, and Appellate Terms.

She is a member of the Latino Judges Association Foundation Board and served on the New York City Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary from 2003 through 2013 as Chief Judge Kaye’s nominee. Her other bar association and civic positions have included President of the Puerto Rican Bar Association; Co-chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Minority in the Professions; New York State Bar Association Delegate; Executive Council for the Network of Bar Leaders; Member of the New York County Democratic Judicial Screening Committee; and Member of the Office of Court Administration’s Commission to Examine Solo and Small Firm Practice.

Ms. Caraballo is a graduate of Brooklyn Law School and the City University of New York, Baruch College. She is admitted to practice in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York, and the Courts of Record of the State of New York.

Commissioner Caraballo resides in Westchester county.

Commission Member
Michael A. Cardozo

Commissioner Michael A. Cardozo has served as a Commissioner since August 2022 after Governor Hochul nominated him and the Independent Review Committee approved his nomination.

Mr. Cardozo is a retired partner of Proskauer Rose where he represented a wide range of clients in commercial litigation, particularly matters involving sports. He also spent a great deal of his time assisting and overseeing the firm’s pro bono practice and diversity efforts.

Mr. Cardozo previously served as New York City’s 77th Corporation Counsel, the City’s chief legal officer, under New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg from 2002 to 2013. In that role, he provided legal counsel to the City, its agencies, the Mayor, and other elected officials, and headed the 650-lawyer New York City Law Department. Mr. Cardozo’s twelve-year service as Corporation Counsel made him the longest-serving Corporation Counsel since the position was formally created in the early 19th Century.

Working with Mayor Bloomberg, Mr. Cardozo spearheaded several key municipal legal initiatives, including working to: eliminate illegal guns from City streets; prevent sales of untaxed cigarettes; encourage progressive environmental actions; defend numerous health care initiatives; reduce the amount the City paid out in judgments and settlements by 13 percent; advocate for judicial selection reform; and lobby to reform local and state tort laws.

As a partner at Proskauer, Mr. Cardozo was both an active trial lawyer and counsel to numerous sports leagues. He also served as co-chair of the firm’s Litigation Department and as a member of the firm’s Executive Committee.

Mr. Cardozo has long been active in the public sector. From 1996 to 1998, he was President of the 21,000-member New York City Bar Association. He has also served as Chair of the Fund for Modern Courts, Chair of the Columbia Law School Board of Visitors, and a member of the Lawyers’ Committee of the Anti-Defamation League. In addition to serving as a member of the State Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government, Mr. Cardozo is a former member of the Board of Citizens Union and a current member of the Advisory Board of Legal Outreach. Among the honors Mr. Cardozo has received are the American Lawyer Lifetime Achievement Award, the Citizen’s Union Public Service Award, the New York Urban League Frederick Douglas Medallion, the George A. Katz Torch of Learning Award from the American Friends of Hebrew University, and the Diversity Champion Award from the City Bar Association.

Mr. Cardozo is a 1966 graduate of Columbia Law School, where he served as an editor of the Law Review, and received a B.A. in political science from Brown University in 1963. Mr. Cardozo is married to Nancy, his wife of more than 57 years. They have two daughters and three grandchildren.

Commissioner Cardozo resides in Westchester county.
Commission Member Michael A. Cardozo

Commission Member
Claudia L. Edwards

Commissioner Edwards became a member of the Commission in August 2022, when the Independent Review Committee approved the Senate Majority Leader’s nomination of Commissioner Edwards to the position.

Dr. Edwards is the President and Founder of Edwards Consulting Group and is recognized as a high performance leader in government, corporate, and not-for-profit sectors. Her areas of expertise are in board development, strategic planning, organizational structure, organizational change, workforce diversity training, and executive coaching.

As a successful senior executive for over 30 years, Dr. Edwards has a demonstrated history of leading non-profit organizations to financial stability and growth. As an assistant professor, she worked with administrators and executives pursuing their education doctoral degree (EdD). In addition to serving as chair for several dissertation committees, Dr. Edwards provided instruction in social theory, public policy, law and ethics; applied research; and preparing leaders for building and sustaining a diverse workforce. Her publication, “Who Stole Public Schools from the Public” (2011), is recognized by researchers across the country. She is also co-author with Jerry Willis, PhD for their publication, “Action Research: Models Methods and Examples” (2014). Dr. Edwards is currently an adjunct professor in the Department of Business Management at Marist College.

Dr. Edwards was re-appointed for six terms by Governors Pataki and Cuomo to serve as a trustee for the Westchester Medical Center for 20 years. The County Executive appointed her to Westchester County’s Planning Commission and the Department of Transportation Board, where she served for nine years and two years respectively. In addition, she sat on the advisory committee for Westchester Fund for Women and Girls for three years. She has been recognized by the New York Times as a distinguished African American in corporate philanthropy and has been awarded several prestigious proclamations and awards.

Dr. Edwards holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Graduate School of Education at Fordham University; a Masters of Urban Planning from New York University, Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service; and a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Affairs and Public Policy from Purchase College at State University of New York.

Commissioner Edwards resides in Westchester county.
Commission Member Claudia L. Edwards

Commission Member
Nancy G. Groenwegen

Commissioner Groenwegen joined the Commission in August 2022 when the Independent Review Committee approved her nomination by the State Comptroller. Ms. Groenwegen served for nearly 35 years in a variety of executive-level legal and policy-making roles in State government. Most recently, she acted as Counsel to State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, providing guidance to the Comptroller and his senior staff, State agencies, and municipal officials on matters related to the Comptroller’s constitutional and statutory roles.

In 2007, Ms. Groenwegen was appointed to serve as head of the Department of Civil Service to oversee its operations, including the administration of the State’s merit system and the New York State Health Insurance Program. Before her appointment as Commissioner of Civil Service, she held a variety of positions in the administration of Governor Mario M. Cuomo, including Assistant Counsel to the Governor, where she advised the Governor on employment and retirement issues, and Deputy Commissioner and Counsel to both the Department of Civil Service and the Department of Labor. Ms. Groenwegen began her career in public service as an Assistant Attorney General under Attorney General Robert Abrams, defending State agencies in State and federal court.

Groenwegen received her B.A. from SUNY Albany and her J.D. from Boston University School of Law.

Commissioner Groenwegen resides in Albany county.

Commission Member
Seymour W. James, Jr.

Commissioner James began his tenure on the Commission in August 2022 when the Independent Review Committee approved the Senate Majority Leader’s nomination of Mr. James to the position.

Mr. James is a partner focusing on criminal defense, wrongful convictions, and civil rights litigation at the law firm of Barket Epstein Kearon Aldea and LoTurco. Prior to joining the firm, he served as Attorney-in-Chief for The Legal Aid Society in New York City, where he was responsible for the overall operation of the Society’s Civil, Criminal, and Juvenile Rights practices. Mr. James began his career as a staff attorney with The Legal Aid Society and, before serving as Attorney-in-Chief, held various supervisory positions in the Criminal Defense Practice, including city-wide Attorney-in-Charge, Queens County Attorney-in-Charge, Deputy Attorney-in-Charge in Queens and Kings counties, and Supervising Attorney in the Bronx and Kings County.

A leader of the organized bar, Mr. James is a Past President of the New York State Bar Association and the Queens County Bar Association. He currently serves on the American Bar Association’s Board of Governors and in its House of Delegates as well as on the Executive Committee of the State Bar’s Criminal Justice Section. In addition, he is a Vice-President of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He formerly served on the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary and Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense.

Mr. James has served on important State and City commissions including the Chief Judge’s Justice Task Force, the Commission to Reimagine the Future of New York’s Courts, the Permanent Sentencing Commission, the Moreland Commission, and the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform. In addition, he sits on the board of directors of the Center for Community Alternatives and the Queens Volunteer Lawyers’ Project and was recently appointed to the Second Department Judicial Screening Committee. He previously held positions on the boards of directors of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, the Correctional Association of New York, the New York State Defenders Association, the Osborne Association, and the Queens Legal Services Corporation.

Among the honors Mr. James has received are: Lifetime Achievement Awards from the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the New York Law Journal; Lifetime of Commitment Award from Fordham Law School’s Feerick Center for Social Justice; New York State Bar Association’s Michele S. Maxian Award for Outstanding Public Defense Practitioner; Judicial Friend’s Jane M. Bolin Award; Metropolitan Black Bar Association’s Public Servant of the Year; Robert L. Haig Award from the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section of the New York State Bar; and the American Bar Association’s Dorsey Award.

Mr. James is a graduate of Brown University and Boston University School of Law.

Commissioner James resides in Kings county.
Commission Member Seymour James

Executive Director
Sanford N. Berland

The Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government appointed Sanford N. Berland as Executive Director on December 16, 2022, after he served as its Interim Director and oversaw the transition of the organization from the former Joint Commission on Public Ethics, where he served as Executive Director beginning in May 2021. As Executive Director, Judge Berland is leading the effort to grow the agency so it may effectively carry out its expanded responsibilities to oversee ethics and lobbying in New York State with integrity, trust, and transparency.

Prior to his JCOPE appointment, Judge Berland most recently served as a Judge on the New York State Court of Claims and as an Acting Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Suffolk County. He has a long career in private practice, including 14 years with Pfizer, Inc. as well as several stints as a law firm partner. Judge Berland began his legal career as a law clerk for U.S. District Court Judge Edward R. Neaher, Jr. in the Eastern District of New York.

Judge Berland is a magna cum laude graduate of both the State University of New York at Buffalo and SUNY Buffalo Law School, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review. He is a member of the American Bar Association, New York State Bar Association, and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, and is admitted to practice in the State of New York and in various federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court. Judge Berland has served the community as a past president of Temple Beth Torah in Melville, a member of the Advisory Board of the Jewish Community Relations Council-Long Island and as co-founder of Families Against Anti-Semitism and for Campus Tolerance.

Executive Director Sanford N. Berland resides in Suffolk county.
Executive Director Sanford N. Berland
COELIG Code of Conduct