New York School Attorney Presented Lifetime Achievement Award
Today, the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Council of School Attorneys (COSA) presented its Lifetime Achievement Award to Jay Worona, a 25-year member of COSA, a former COSA Chair, and the deputy executive director and general counsel for the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA).
“I am truly humbled and honored to receive COSA’s lifetime achievement award,” said Worona. “COSA is an organization that has truly enabled me to fulfill every career expectation that I had for myself. Throughout my time as a COSA member and as Chair, I have developed lifelong professional and personal relationships that have truly benefited every aspect of my life.”
“Jay was one of the first attorneys I observed when I started attending COSA events almost 20 years ago,” said Joy Baskin, current COSA Chair and Education Counsel at the Texas Association of School Boards. “He was insightful, wise, funny, and gracious. I immediately knew I wanted to emulate him in my work and service to COSA. Jay has been a role model to countless school attorneys throughout his prestigious career. We are lucky to have him in our association.”
NSBA Chief Legal Officer Francisco Negrón added, “Jay Worona is an example of all that is right in the profession of law, and especially in the practice of school law. The National School Boards Association is indebted to Jay for his countless hours of dedication to school boards, state associations, and his fellow school lawyers. From his service on the NSBA Board of Directors to his work at NYSSBA, Jay’s passion for public schools and for school board leadership continues to set the bar for us all.”
In his role with NYSSBA, Jay represents the organization and its membership of approximately 750 school districts in direct and amicus curiae litigation on a variety of legal topics, including tenure and seniority rights of school employees, special education, the constitutional separation of church and state as it applies to the operation of public schools, and the legal authority of school boards. In 1994, Jay successfully argued and won a case before the United States Supreme Court involving the separation of church and state entitled Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet. He is also a frequent and popular speaker on a wide range of topics affecting the operation of public education in state and national forums, including COSA and NSBA programs. He has also appeared regularly in the national media, including FOX News, CNN, NPR, and PBS.
Jay has energetically participated in COSA programming for decades. Seminar attendees will remember his many roles in COSA skits. More often, he’s been the dynamic moderator of key sessions taking on weighty issues and challenging scenarios. Jay was an active member of the COSA board before serving as Chair in 2007. Jay has presented on COSA webinars, paid tributes to colleagues at COSA events, and remained available for consult and wisdom. His contributions to COSA are legendary.
One of his COSA colleagues and fellow Past Chair, Nancy Krent, said, “No one is more deserving of COSA’s lifetime achievement award than Jay Worona. He has given tirelessly—and graciously—of his time and his talent to COSA and to so many of us. We have learned from him, not just in the many presentations he has given, but also in the example he sets of a thoughtful, generous and deeply committed advocate for public education.”