2016/02/08

York Alum Sworn in as Commissioner of Family Court in Delaware

York College, CUNY can now add alumna Danielle S. Blount ’01 to its list of distinguished alumni in law. She was recently sworn in as Commissioner of Family Court, in Delaware.

As a political science major at York, Blount connected early with that discipline’s then-mentor, Dr. Shirley Ostholm, who had already sent dozens of her graduates to law schools across the country.

Blount followed suit graduating with her JD from Howard University School of Law in 2007; and was admitted to the Bar in New Jersey and in Delaware, her current state of residence.

The Flushing, Queens, native worked her way up the legal ladder in a private law firm followed by her service as deputy attorney general in Delaware prosecuting bench and jury misdemeanor trials in the Court of Common Pleas, Family Court and Justice of the Peace Courts. From there she became deputy legal counsel in the Office of the Governor of Delaware.

It was from this position that Governor Jack A. Markell nominated her for the position as Commissioner of Family Court.

But Judge Blount has not forgotten her Queens roots. Not only is she proud of her York College degree, her  impressive resume still features early jobs at the Jamaica YMCA, Queens Child Guidance Center, Safe Horizons; and Highland Church, where she was a dedicated member and employee. 

Asked what made her choose York for her undergraduate education, she said it was a matter of convenience as much as it was anything else.

 “I chose York College because I wanted to be close to home and to my church,” she explained.  “I was very active in ministry at Highland Church in Jamaica.  I remember leaving ministry work and walking to my classes and returning to church after my classes concluded.  York College was the right choice for me because it allowed me to pursue my education while remaining active in my church and local communities.”

 Mentors were crucial and in addition to Mary Daniels, then a member of the Financial Aid Office, Blount recalls Dr. Ostholm’ s influence.

 “Prof. Ostholm has been my constant support,” she said. “I remember sitting in the front row in one of her lectures and I knew I needed to meet her and tell her my plans.  Prof. Ostholm helped me chart out my plans, which included obtaining some real life and work experiences, to become a lawyer.  We discussed [my] attending Howard University School of Law, working as a prosecutor and becoming a judge.   Every item we discussed and planned for has become a reality.”

 Blount, who was a member of the college’s Pre-Law Club, is thankful for the foundation provided at her alma mater.

 “York College assisted in shaping me into the leader I am today,” she said.  “I became an outspoken advocate of my position while attending classes at York.  My hand was always up. I prepared for all my classes like I was going to be grilled on any topic. I asked questions, and followed up with my professors because of my desire to learn.”

She also credits her forbears.

“Understanding that my path was paved by the sweat, tears [and] blood of my ancestors ignited my desire not [just] to succeed but to surpass all expectations,” she said.

Dr. Ostholm, whose countless mentees includes local judge, George Grasso ‘81 and his son, Joseph ’11, who recently passed the Bar Exam in New York, is excited that yet another of her mentees has reached a career milestone.

“I am thrilled for Danielle,” said Ostholm. “I believe that Governor Markell and the Senate have made an excellent choice in Danielle given her temperament, character, experience and good judgment.  I am so proud of [her]. I always believed that she was well suited to the field of law.  She has advanced so quickly in a short time, and deservedly so. With her experience, leadership, integrity, empathy and work ethic, she will be an outstanding Commissioner!”  

Professor Emerita Ostholm, who is now retired to Florida, flew in to attend Blount’s swearing-in, reported back to York.

“The investiture of Danielle was truly extraordinary, an unforgettable event, and I felt privileged to be there!” said Ostholm. “The large courtroom was packed and the Governor, the Chief Judge for the State, the Attorney General and other judges and dignitaries were present as well as members of Highland Church.”

Dr. Ostholm participated in the ceremony by reading congratulatory letters from Dr. Marcia V. Keizs, president of York College; and New York State Senator Leroy Comrie, who once counted Blount as a constituent. 

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