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Whitney Young Health's Annual Legacy Event Honors Two High-Profile And Prominent Capital Region Civil Rights Champions



“Living the Legacy” Award recipients Dr. Alice Green, Executive Director of the Center for Law and Justice, and the late Vera P. “Mike” Michelson, beloved and lifetime activist, honored for their foundational work advancing racial and social justice in the Capital Region. 

TROY, NY – The Whitney Young Health’s Annual Legacy Event today will honor two foundational activists who have spent their personal and professional lives devoted to advancing social and racial justice in the Capital Region.  

Both Dr. Alice Green, Executive Director of the Center for Law and Justice, and the late Vera P. “Mike” Michelson, lifetime activist, will receive the “Living the Legacy” award. Each of the recipients have been influential in breaking down the social and racial barriers of the most marginalized communities in the Capital Region.  

Whitney Young Health’s Legacy Event will take place on Thursday, September 19th at Brown’s Revolution Hall in Troy from 5:30PM to 8:00PM. There will be a cash bar and a silent auction throughout the night, as well as Dueling Pianos courtesy of Shake, Rattle, and Roll Pianos. Sponsors of the event include CDPHP, MVP Healthcare, Jaeger & Flynn, NYSDF, M&T Bank, Hugh Johnson Advisors, Omni, and WellCare and the UAlbany Foundation. If interested in attending, tickets for the event can be purchased here

“We are honored to recognize the lifetime of achievements of Dr. Alice Green and the legacy of Vera P. “Mike” Michelson. These two extraordinary women have changed the Capital Region for the betterment of all, and especially for our most marginalized communities,” said David Shippee, President and CEO of Whitney Young Health. “They both envisioned a society where each and every community member works towards advancing social and racial justice. Their leadership is unmatched, and their crucial work will inspire and benefit generations to come.”  

“Dr. Alice Green and Vera P. “Mike” Michelson are staples in the Capital Region and embody what makes an effective and legendary activist. They both have lived their lives unapologetically to pursue a vision of a community that works tirelessly to eradicate the social and racial barriers that affect the most marginalized of people. We cannot have honored nor imagined any other more deserving recipients of the “Living the Legacy” award.” said Sister Gail Waring, Board Chair of Whitney Young Health.  

Dr. Alice Green has a Doctorate in Criminal Justice and has three Master’s degrees in Education, Social Work, and Criminology. She is an adjunct professor at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany and has taught at several colleges around the Capital Region and published several books on racism and criminal justice.  

She started her prolific career as a secondary school teacher, social worker and Director of the Trinity Institution, a youth and family services center in Albany’s South End. While working there, she founded the South End Scene, one of the longest published black newspapers in Albany. Shortly after, she became the Legislative Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, and then the Director of their Albany Office.  

With a fiery passion for advancing social and racial justice and community organizing, she founded the Center for Law and Justice in 1985. To date, the Center has provided community education on civil and criminal justice, legal guidance and advocacy, crisis intervention, and community planning and organizing around criminal justice, civil rights and civil liberties issues of particular concern to poor communities and those of color. Within the same year, she was appointed by Governor Mario Cuomo to the Citizens Policy and Complaint Review Council of the New York State Commission of Corrections, and then appointed Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives.  

Green also has the spirit of volunteerism. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the New York State Defenders Association, as Vice President of Senior Hope, on the Advisory Board of the Capital District of the NYCLU and has been a prison volunteer for two decades. She also founded the African American Cultural Center of the Capital Region and the Paden Institute and Retreat for Writers of Color. In recognition of her work, she has received numerous awards from several local and state organizations.

Vera P. “Mike” Michelson lived her life as a relentless social and racial justice activist, a dedicated community organizer, and was deeply connected to her community, especially the West Hills neighborhood she lived in. She earned her Bachelor’s at Russell Sage College and her Master’s of Science in Education at SUNY Albany. She spent her professional career as a public servant at the State of New York Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. 

A daughter and granddaughter of a Jewish family that fled Nazi Germany, she was instilled with a desire to fight injustice at a very early age. As a high school student, she organized a protest after the mayor removed the United Nations flag from the City Hall in her hometown of Northampton, Massachusetts. This innate passion to work on the frontlines for social and racial justice carried on throughout her life’s work.  

She lived in the predominantly African American community of the West Hills neighborhood in Albany and worked alongside her community members to tackle the intersected issues of poverty, crime, and gun violence that riddled her community. She was a staple in the Albany activist circles and devoted her life to bridging racial and economic divides with ground-level, hands-on activism and working directly with the communities that were most affected. Mike never married nor had children of her own, but she opened her heart and home to countless West Hills children, becoming their honorary “auntie” and “godmother.” 

Mike’s infectious spirit was an inspiration and pivotal to each and every person she knew. Throughout her life, she challenged others to strive to lead their lives conscious of their privileges and taught them to use that privilege to uplift those who didn’t have a seat at the table. Alongside her legacy of tireless activism and advocacy for social justice, Mike was also a founding member of the Whitney Young Health. 

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