Maureen (Leary) Naughton ’72

Maureen Leary Naughton (previously known by her teammates on the Paul VI 1972 State Championship Basketball Team as “Bean”) has practiced environmental law for nearly 30 years.
For the last 25 years, she has been an Assistant Attorney General for the State of New York, and she is the Chief of the Toxics Section in the Environmental Protection Bureau. For a second time, she was recently awarded the Louis J. Lefkowitz Memorial Award of Excellence by Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.

Maureen is married to J. Michael Naughton, who is also an attorney and is a partner in the Albany law firm, Young Sommer. They never discuss the law. Maureen and Michael both majored in English literature in college and they do discuss books and articles in the New York Times. They have two children, both of whom were also English literature majors: Dylan Kelsey, age 23 (Villanova ’11), who now lives in Manhattan and is a communications coordinator for the law firm, Ropes and Gray; and James Michael, age 21, who will be graduating from James Madison University in May 2013. Unfortunately, both Dylan and James are considering law school.

Maureen’s sister, Judith ’70, was a member one of the first graduating classes at Paul VI. Maureen’s niece, Meghan Leary ’05, is also a Paul VI graduate and went on to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania with a nursing degree.

Maureen has been a long-time member of the New York State Bar Association’s Environmental Law Section and serves on their Executive Committee as the Continuing Legal Education Chair. She speaks at numerous conferences sponsored by the National Association of Attorneys General. She is also on the Board of Directors of the State Association of Bankruptcy Attorneys, working on legislative initiatives and other professional activities with numerous other states.

For nearly 10 years, Maureen has been on the Board of Directors of the YMCA in her upstate New York town. She most recently became involved with their Circle of Champs program, which provides support to seriously ill children and their families.

Maureen’s long-time dream has been to protect the environment, and she continues to live that dream today. She was inspired by early environmental activists, such as Rachel Carson, James Muir, and Aldo Leopold. Maureen’s biggest inspiration, however, has been her mother, Lorraine Berrigan Leary. Even today, at the age of 84, Lorraine continues to be an effective environmental activist in her Haddonfield/Haddon Township community.

There are roughly three lessons Maureen learned during her life’s journey:

First, just say yes. To life. To opportunity. To people. To hard work. To giving. To truth and integrity.

Second, believe in yourself and trust your instincts. Never allow someone else to define who you are, or dictate where you should be going or what you should be doing. Remember always how valuable you are in the world and how you can make a difference.

Finally, get in to the arena. Get in the fight. Become engaged with something you are passionate about. And never give up.

Consistent with that final lesson, Maureen has a piece of wisdom for Paul VI students from the writings of one of the earliest environmental activists and land conservationists in America:

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; who knows great enthusiasms and great devotions; and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure . . . than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory or defeat. —Theodore Roosevelt

Maureen would like to sincerely thank Mary Anne Yeager, Michael Chambers, and the entire Paul VI alumni community for the honor and privilege of being named to the Alumni Hall of Fame. Paul VI has always been and continues to be an inspiring and exceptional educational institution.