Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Announces Recipients of 2019 Excellence Awards

Excellence AwardThe Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2019 Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Award, as well as the awarding of the Outstanding Leadership in Support of Legal Services Award.

The Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Awards recognize legal aid attorneys, paralegals, support staff and friends of civil legal aid who support the clients served by the civil legal programs that comprise the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network.

PLAN solicited nominations from across the Commonwealth and based its selection on a variety of criteria that demonstrated excellence and diligence in helping improve the availability and quality of civil legal services for low income people and victims of domestic violence in Pennsylvania. 

The 2019 Excellence Award recipients are:

  • Rachel Garland, Esq., Community Legal Services of Philadelphia
  • Natalia Gomez and Benita Mejia, Community Justice Project
  • Betty Green, Philadelphia Legal Assistance
  • George Gvozdich, Esq., and E. Marie Queen,  Pennsylvania Bar Foundation Loan Repayment Assistance Program
  • G. Clayton Nestler, Esq., Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Services
  • Nancy R. Paul and Nancy O. Walsh, Montgomery Bar Association
  • Stella Smetanka, Esq., Pro Bono counsel at Neighborhood Legal Services
  • Michelle Terry, Esq., Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania

The eleven 2019 Excellence Award winners will be honored with an awards presentation and short video tribute at the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Award Banquet on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 at the Hilton Harrisburg. James J. Sandman, President of the Legal Services Corporation will be the featured speaker at the awards banquet. 

In addition, PLAN will present the Outstanding Leadership in Legal Services Award to the group who championed the Clean Slate Legislative Initiative. The following individuals will be recognized as part of this single group award: 

  • Gene Barr
  • Representative Sheryl M. Delozier
  • Sharon M. Dietrich
  • Jamie Gullen
  • Holly Harris
  • Representative Jordan A. Harris
  • Mark Holden
  • Michael Hollander
  • Malcolm Jenkins
  • Ronald Lewis
  • Chris Long
  • Seth P. Lyons
  • Beth Anne Mumford
  • Greg Rowe
  • Torrey Smith
  • Rebecca Vallas
  • Senator Scott Wagner
  • Senator Anthony H. Williams

The Clean Slate Legislation provides for automatic sealing of arrests ending without convictions immediately, summary offense convictions after 10 years, and some misdemeanor convictions after 10 years. It also expands Pennsylvania’s sealing law to include some first-degree misdemeanors.

It is an extremely important bill for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians with old and minor criminal convictions or who were arrested but not convicted.  Sealing a criminal case is a life-changing remedy for those who qualify, opening doors to employment, housing and education. 

Online purchase of individual tickets or full table reservations is available at

Information on sponsorship and advertising opportunities is available at

For additional details, contact Christine Kirby at via email at  

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