Gail Schmertz Kerner, Esq.
Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer
Gail joined AHRC NYC on September 1, 2018, as Chief Legal Officer and the organization’s first in-house counsel. In this role, Gail serves as an advisor to the executive and senior leadership teams, the AHRC NYC Foundation, and the Board of Directors, particularly to several of its committees, including Audit; Guardianship, Compliance and Ethics; Executive; Finance; Fundraising; Governance; Investment; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; and Strategic Planning.
After earning her Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, and her law degree from Boston University School of Law, Gail started her legal career as an Associate with a preeminent personal injury law firm in NYC. She then served in municipal government as a counsel to the Personnel Commissioner, which was followed by a more than a thirty-year commitment to the non-profit sector, as Chief Counsel for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), a multinational, charitable organization serving and advocating on behalf of people with physical disabilities and now as Chief Legal Officer of AHRC New York City.
During her tenure at MDA, Gail enhanced the organization’s fundraising efforts through corporate engagement, development, and legacy gift planning, served as an integral member of a team that successfully led a federal lobbying effort, resulting in the allocation of millions of dollars of federal funds to research into muscular dystrophy and related diseases (the MD CARE ACT), and spearheaded the creation of a task force of individuals with neuromuscular diseases who promoted public awareness of critical issues affecting them. The accomplishment of which she is most proud is her contribution to the production of the annual, nationally televised MDA Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon, the primary funding for MDA’s year-round programs
When Gail chose to move on from MDA, but remain committed to advising mission-driven non-profit organization, she was drawn to AHRC NYC for its stellar reputation and unique lay leadership as a family-governed organization. With the confidence that the best days of her AHRC NYC career are still ahead of her, she has a renewed sense of commitment and urgency to advancing the agency’s vital mission and to providing support in myriad ways to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the families who love and care for them.
While she focuses on fulfilling AHRC NYC’s goals, she is also proud of her “other” full-time job, as a mother to two amazing millennials: her daughter, Kate, a social media expert, influencer, and fitness enthusiast who is channeling her entrepreneurial spirit to forge her own, unique career path, and her son, Perry, a medical student at SUNY Downstate. Finally, Gail is extremely grateful to have the unwavering love and support of her husband of more than 30 years, Bruce, and is particularly thankful to him for sharing in her quest to buy a house in Brooklyn and start a new chapter in their lives, yet again.