Neil McCarthy was born on April 30, 1956. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York, the son of a journalist-father and working nurse-mother. He attended Catholic parochial school in his neighborhood and then Xavier High School in Manhattan, where he was educated by the Jesuits. He graduated from Xavier in 1974 and has thereafter called it “the most important school he attended.” He was among the early classes of Catholic high school graduates who were able to apply to and attend non-Catholic colleges (until sometime in the ’60s, Catholic high schools would not forward transcripts to non-Catholic colleges). Of the Jesuits, many of whom became life long friends, he says “They taught me the most important lesson I ever learned – to pray as if everything depended upon God but act as if everything depended on me.”
Neil attended Dartmouth College from 1974 to 1978 and graduated with a B.A. (summa cum laude) from Dartmouth in June 1978. He was a double major in Philosophy and Government and wrote a prize winning honors thesis on “Objectivity and the News Media." Following graduation from Dartmouth, he went to Yale Law School, from which he graduated with a J.D. in January 1982. At Yale, he was a Thurman Arnold Prize Finalist in the Yale Moot Court competition.
Following his graduation from Yale Law School, Neil clerked for Judge Ralph K. Winter of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. From 1983-1986, he practiced in California, before returning east to serve as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Hampshire from October 1986 through December 1987. He then came home to New York where he has practiced law ever since. Among his achievements, Neil helped prosecute claims for the FDIC/RTC following the S&L crisis in the late ‘80s and represented telecom entrepreneurs in the ‘90s. From 2003 through 2005, he successfully prosecuted multi-million dollar claims for Dan Pallotta, the ground breaking philanthropic entrepreneur who created the revolutionary multi-day AIDS bike rides and three-day walks to benefit breast cancer research. He currently serves on the board of the Charity Defense Council, which Mr. Pallotta heads.Throughout his career, Neil has tried numerous cases in courts throughout the country.
From an early age, Neil has had a love affair with political activism. In 1992, he was the Democratic Party nominee for Congress in New York’s 19th Congressional District. In that race, he received a higher percentage and more votes than any Democrat who had ever run against the district’s twelve term incumbent, Hamilton Fish, Jr. From 1996-1999, he was a New York State Democratic Party committeeman, and from 1999-2001, he served as one of the Executive Vice-Chairs of the New York State Democratic Party. Throughout the last three decades, he has voluntarily worked for a number of candidates, including Ted Kennedy, Gary Hunt, former Rep. Andy Maguire and former NYC Mayor David Dinkins, either as a field worker, analyst or speech writer and issues adviser. To this day, he freely contributes his time and money to progressive Democrats at the national, state and local level.
Neil is married to Debbie McCarthy, the National Accounts Manager at Business Executives for National Security (“BENS”). Debbie is a 1987 graduate of Holy Cross, has a Masters in International Relations from George Washington University, and was the legislative director for Congressman Fish (Neil’s 1992 opponent) until 1994, when she herself returned to New York. Neil and Debbie met when he ran against Debbie’s boss in 1992, and though she then thought of him as a “whiner” (while fearing he might succeed, and incidentally run her out of a job), she herself decided in 1994 that the “whiner” should be the Congressman and supported Neil that year when he made a second try for the seat. Neil didn’t win the second time either. But he did meet his wife -- Debbie and Neil were married in February 2000.
Neil has two grown children, Conor and Courtney. Conor, a 2011 graduate of Colorado College, is now the northeast regional manager for the National Economic Development Corporation., and Courtney, a 2013 graduate of Lehigh University, is now a Senior Analyst for Global Srategic Sourcing at Aramark in Philadelphia.
Neil and Debbie live in Mahopac, New York, just across from beautiful Lake Mahopac. They are joined (sometimes) by Conor and Courtney. The family is rounded out by Josie and Mrs. Beasley, their dog and cat. Josie is a female shih-tzu who arrived on Christmas Eve 2013; her predecessor was Mr. French, also a femal shih-tzu but so named as a consequence of some sort of unified field requirement that came to Debbie in a dream in which she imagined, channelling a 1970s sit-com, that she had a dog and cat with the names French and Beasley Voilà. Debbie loves Josie but still misses French.
Neil’s hobbies include reading, golfing, “spectating” , and housekeeping (he runs a mean vacuum and dirty dishes do not stand a chance). He believes baseball is one of America’s finest contributions to the world (the other is jazz), and he sometimes goes to church (Catholic) on Sunday (often to complain). Debbie’s hobbies include cooking gourmet meals, reading, community service (she is on the board of FoodBank), and made sure the kids graduated from college. Conor and Courtney think they have a fine Dad but an extraordinary stepmom. As the Mother’s Day card they once gave her said -- “She does everything for them... and was a volunteer!”