Harlem School Honors Peter Eikenberry '64 for Thirty Years of Public Service
Peter Eikenberry's association with the Children's Storefront is in its third decade. Founded in 1966, the Children's Storefront was created to provide a safe haven for Harlem children to engage in a variety of educational activities. By 1970, it had grown into a formal school but faced significant financial challenges. A Children's Storefront trustee who worked for McDonald Douglas, one of Peter's client companies, asked him to take a look at the struggling school. "Should we quit?" she asked, and Peter was hooked.
Peter signed on as the school's volunteer lawyer. Funds were raised and a grade was added each year. Today Children's Storefront is a thriving independent, tuition-free school providing comprehensive education to 168 students of varied academic strengths from preschool through the 8th grade.
Peter's work for the Children's Storefront is indicative of his long-standing commitment to social justice fostered at Ohio State. Undergraduate and law classmate Niki Schwartz '64 says, "Peter's social consciousness was raised in undergraduate school by the late, great professor Harvey Goldberg, a true scholar of French history, gifted classroom teacher, faculty advisor, and tireless advocate for social justice." Law school provided the tools to transform social consciousness into action.
Following graduation from Moritz, Peter joined a large New York firm. He asked to do pro bono work in the South at the height of the civil rights movement but the firm had other plans. Peter was assigned to work on the landmark Texas Gulf insider trading case. Work on the $2 billion case was intensive; the trial was completed in 14 months. The firm rewarded Peter by assigning him to the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization formed at the request of President Kennedy. Peter became part of an army of private practitioners who traveled to Mississippi to provide legal representation to African-Americans and civil rights workers during the turbulent 1960s.
Peter returned to New York and eventually became general counsel to the Bedford Stuyvesant D&S Corporation formed through national legislation crafted by Senators Robert F. Kennedy and Jacob Javits. The D&S Corporation offered technical and fund raising assistance to its sister organization, the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, which set policy and carried out community development programs. The first community development corporation in the country, it became a national model. Wanting to do more, Peter became a candidate for a U.S. Congressional seat representing Brooklyn in 1970.
Unsuccessful in his bid, Peter continued to be an agent of change in Brooklyn. He chaired the board of the Child Development Support Corporation and later served as president of the Brooklyn Children's Museum. He is vice president of the Neighborhood Open Space Coalition, dedicated to improving New York life by expanding and enhancing its infrastructure for public health, parks, waterfronts, community gardens and open spaces, through advocacy, research, education, and planning.
A civil trial attorney, Peter is active in the profession. He is a former vice president of the Federal Bar Council, and chair of both the public service and Second Circuit Court Committees. He was first chair of the New York City Association of the Bar Committee to Encourage Judicial Service. This committee has been effective in increasing the quality and diversity of the judiciary in New York by expanding the pool of available candidates and by demystifying the application process. In 1998, Peter headed the Association of the Bar's human rights mission to Northern Ireland.
A long-term member of the Moritz National Alumni Council, Peter has remained active in the life of the school. He regularly plans law alumni outings to Cleveland Indians games and hosts alumni gatherings in New York City. Throughout the years, he has hired a number of Moritz alumni to work in his firm. In the past month alone, he hired two Moritz law students to work as summer clerks and a recent graduate to work as an associate.
Peter has three children and five grandchildren. He and wife Sue, a social worker, live in Brooklyn Heights. Friends wishing to congratulate Peter can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.