Honoring John Desmarais ’85, Dinner Raises More than $1.3 Million for Students
Thanking Manhattan for an outstanding education and dedicated alumni network that “changed the trajectory of my life,” John Desmarais ’85, founding partner of Desmarais LLP, received the College’s 2022 De La Salle Medal at The Plaza Hotel in New York City on Wednesday, April 20, 2022.
“I grew up in a working-class family — Italian immigrants on one side, French Canadians on the other,” Desmarais noted in his acceptance address. “My cousins, sister and I were the first generation in my family to attend college. Manhattan was the perfect choice for students like us, and it still serves that mission today.”
Established in 1951 and held annually since 1977, the De La Salle Medal Dinner is Manhattan’s premier fundraising event. Thanks to the generosity of friends and alumni, this year’s gala generated more than $1.3 million for scholarships and other forms of student aid. “Thanks to you,” President Emeritus Brennan O’Donnell, Ph.D., told participants, “this continues to be a place where generation after generation of extraordinary students discover their talents and prepare themselves to make a difference in the world.”
This was the second De La Salle Medal Dinner held in six months. After an 18-month, COVID-19 related delay, the College honored Lynn Martin ’98, president of the New York Stock Exchange, on October 13, 2021. Together, the two events raised more than $2.5 million for student assistance. Mary Beth McDade ’93, an Emmy award-winning news anchor at KTLA 5 in Los Angeles, served as emcee once again for both events.
Speaking with humility and humor, Desmarais used PowerPoint slides to highlight his April acceptance remarks. “Manhattan,” he explained to the assembled guests, “is a special place with a special mission. The class sizes are small. Professors know you by your first name. If you are struggling, they help you. If you are succeeding, they encourage you.”
Manhattan is especially adept at “teaching a readily employable set of skills,” he continued. “If you’re a kid who expects to do four years and then get a job, Manhattan is the place for you.” The College also prepares students to excel in graduate or professional school — as Desmarais did, earning his degree at the New York University School of Law in 1988. Manhattan’s “fiercely loyal alumni network” is another vital source of support throughout every Jasper’s professional life, he added.
John Desmarais ’85, J.D. Founding Partner Desmarais LLP
Noreen Krall ’87, J.D. Retired Vice President and Chief Litigation Counsel Apple Inc.
Thomas J. Meloro ’86, J.D. Partner Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP