Joseph Centorino, executive director of the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust, was honored Tuesday with the CEPS Lawyers in Leadership Award by Miami Law's Center for Ethics & Public Service. The award recognizes leading members of the Florida bar and bench who are distinguished by their dedication to public citizenship and leadership.
"We're honored to recognize Joe as a standup guy," said Professor Anthony V. Alfieri, the founder and director of the Center for Ethics and Public Service. "He's dedicated his career to improving the quality of justice."
Centorino became executive director of the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust on Sept. 1, after 25-year career at the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office. For most of that time, he served as chief of the Public Corruption Division, where he oversaw the investigation and prosecution of crimes by public officers and employees. In addition working in private practice, as an assistant district attorney in Massachusetts and, briefly, as a congressional aide, Centorino served for eight years as a city cuncilman in his hometown of Salem, Mass.
He is a frequent lecturer, speaker and panelist on corruption and ethics-related topics. He has served as an instructor of Professionalism and Ethics at Florida International University and is often asked to testify before grand juries, advisory boards and government bodies. Centorino serves on the Florida Bar Professional Ethics Committee and has been admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The award was presented to Centorino at a luncheon in the Faculty Meeting Room at the School of Law. Kelly Rains, a Steven E. Chaykin fellow, and Daniel Casamayor, a Peter Palermo fellow, moderated the event.
"It's impactful to hear from someone who is working in an area that's underdeveloped in Miami," said Alejandro Miyara, a second-year student. Centorino, he added, is "a pioneer in building the ethics program that the city needs and deserves."
Previous recipients of the Lawyers in Leadership Award include President Emeritus Edward T. Foote II, the Hon. Henry Latimer, Joseph P. Klock, Ellen Catsman Freidin, Richard C. Milstein, the Hon. Joan A. Lenard, Carlos M. de la Cruz, H.T. Smith, Jeannette F. Hausler, M. Minnette Massey, Edna Shalala, the Honorable Petere R. Palermo, Cheryl Little, Kathleen Williams and Marcia K. Cypen.
"It's particularly moving for me," Centorino said of receiving the Lawyers in Leadership Award. "Public service should be its own reward. But to have a program like this, that recognizes people in public service, is a wonderful thing."