MICHELE COLEMAN MAYES
Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary for the New York Public Library.
Chair of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession.
Author and Philanthropist
Michele Coleman Mayes is an leader in the profession of law and highly respected. The Lady General Counsel that pave the way for all women in the field of law. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including awards from the American Bar Association and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association. She was named one of America’s top black lawyers by Black Enterprise and one of the most Influential General Counsels in America by The National Law Journal. Ms. Mayes received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and her JD from the University of Michigan Law School.
Michele Coleman Mayes was born on July 9, 1949 in Los Angeles, California to Geraldine and Wilbert Coleman. Michele graduated from MacKinzie High School in Detroit, Michigan in 1967. She received her B.A. degree from the University of Michigan in 1971 and her J.D. degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1974.
Michele was an instructor in the Department of Political Science at Illinois State University as an assistant Professor for two consecutive years. In 1981 Michele again as an instructor worked thas an Adjunct Professor of Civil Trial Advocacy at Wayne State University in Detroit Michigan and ended that position in 1987. She served in the United States Department of Justice from 1976 to 1982 as Assistant United States Attorney in Detroit and Brooklyn. With complete consistency and integrity in her passion for the legal field she eventually assumed the role of Chief of the Civil Division in Detroit.
Michele in 1982 entered the corporate sector as managing attorney of the Burroughs Corporation. Her career continued grow further as the Burroughs Corporation and the Sperry Corporation merged, creating Unisys Corporation, for which she was appointed staff vice president and associate general counsel for Worldwide Litigation.
Michel Mayes in 1992 relocated to New York and joined the Colgate- Palmolive Company as vice president and associate general counsel. Within one year time Michele was promoted to vice president of Human Resources and their Legal Division for North America. In May 2001, Michele again was promoted to vice president, legal and assistant secretary, and elected a corporate officer. Two years later, she accepted the position of senior vice president and general counsel at Pitney Bowes. In 2007 which was in Connecticut.
In 2007 she assumed the role of executive vice president and general counsel for Allstate Insurance Company in Chicago, Illinois. Her role responsibilities were for guiding Allstate’s strategy to foster sound governance practices and a healthy legal, political, and regulatory environment with her extensive legal, corporate and government experience through her leadership, Allstate’s Law Department played an instrumental role in noteworthy matters during 2010. The Department successfully resolved the company’s first ever multi state Market Conduct Examination in a little more than a year after the exam commenced. The examination included a detailed review of Allstate’s practices in 46 states. The successful resolution of the examination improved Allstate’s standing with regulators throughout the country. a position she held until retiring in 2012.
Michele relocated to New York in 2012 assumed the position as vice president, general counsel and secretary for The New York Public Library (“NYPL”) and a member of the senior management group. Michele is responsible for guiding NYPL’s legal strategy to enable NYPL to achieve its mission.
Michele Mayes is the recipient of numerous awards, including the American Bar Association, Commission on Women in the Profession – The Margaret Brent Award, and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association Trailblazer Award. She was named one of America’s top black lawyers by Black Enterprise in 2003. In 2009, Mayes was recognized as one of the most Influential General Counsels in America by The National Law Journal and by Ethisphere Institute in 2011 Attorneys Who Matter. Also in 2011, Michele and Kara Baysinger co-authored a book entitled Courageous Counsel that chronicles conversations with women general counsel in the Fortune 500. She was honored as a Lifetime Achiever in 2012 by The American Lawyer.
February 24, 2014 The New York County Lawyers’ Association and the Metropolitan Black Bar Association presented the 12th Annual Ida B. Wells‐Barnett Justice Award to Michele Coleman Mayes, vice president, general counsel, and secretary of The New York Public Library (NYPL). Named for one of the first African American women to run for public office in the United States, the award is presented annually to a woman of color whose life reflects Wells-Barnett’s spirit and courageousness by distinguishing herself in the fight for racial and gender equality. Michele Mayes is a member of the board of Legal Momentum.Ms. Mayes received her Bachelor’s of Arts and her Juries Doctor degrees from the University of Michigan Law School.