Israel Adams Burns
With the passing of Israel’s grandmother, his living situation with his mother became unstable and things took a turn for the worst. Israel was in and out of group homes before coming to Little Flower when he was about 14-15 years old. He eventually found a home with his grandfather and aunt, which became the turning point in his life. There was a definite improvement in school and he became more grounded.
Before living with his aunt, Israel didn’t think college was an option. But with better grades, encouragement and a Little Flower Scholarship, Israel was able to attend the University of Minnesota, where he studied Political Science. Upon returning to New York he completed his undergraduate degree at Hunter College. Like many Political Science majors Israel set his sights on Law School and attended Rutgers Law in New Jersey. He specialized in Employment Litigation and was hired immediately after graduation by Seyfarth Shaw LLP, a full service international law firm with offices in NYC, DC, Atlanta, LA, London, Shanghai and Australia.
He recently started his own firm, Burns Consulting, a hybrid law firm specializing in civil litigation with an Entertainment Project Development arm that handles production and copy rights for local artists. Israel’s entrepreneurial interests continue to flourish with the establishment of BCG Records an independent music production company.
Just before leaving for college, Israel attended a Little Flower Scholarship luncheon where he accepted the Augustus Beekman Scholarship in honor of former Little Flower youth, Gus Beekman, who grew up on the Wading River campus. Augustus Beekman was a past President of the Little Flower Board of Directors and went on to become the 23rd New York City Fire Commissioner, the second African-American to hold that post. Unbeknownst to Israel, Augustus’s daughter, Bernadette Beekman, was seated at his table and after his speech thanking Little Flower, he returned to the table to see she was crying. He thought he might have said something to offend her but found out that they were tears of happiness that her father’s legacy could have such an impact. At that moment, Bernadette became Israel’s mentor.
Israel recalls that as a mentor, Bernadette was tough. He actually says that some of his accomplishments along the way can be attributed to “proving her wrong about me!” At a memorial service after Augustus’ passing, Bernadette invited Israel to speak and he was honored to do so.
Israel recently signed up to be a mentor for Little Flower’s college mentoring program. He says it is his turn to give back and help someone the way the Beekman family helped him. “My life has come full circle and I am very grateful to support Little Flower and the youth in foster care in any way I can.”