Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Awards

Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Seeks Nominations for 2020 Excellence Awards

Save the Date - 2020 Excellence Awards: March 31, 2020Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network is soliciting nominations for its 2020 Excellence Awards. The awards dinner will be held on Tuesday, March 31, 2020, at the Hilton Harrisburg. A social hour will take place from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., immediately followed by a buffet dinner, so please mark your calendar.

The Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Awards honor members and friends of the legal aid community who exemplify excellence in their commitment and accomplishments as advocates for low-income people. A media presentation highlighting the accomplishments of each award recipient will be incorporated into the program. You are encouraged to submit worthy nominations for the following categories:

    We are seeking nominations for employees for all staff positions who exhibit excellence and commitment in the performance of the duties of their jobs.
    We are seeking nominations for members of the private bar who display an outstanding commitment to legal aid and the legal needs of low-income Pennsylvanians.
    We are seeking nominations for volunteers and friends who demonstrate exceptional dedication to legal aid and the needs of low-income people. It may include legislators or government officials, community leaders, or others who help promote the mission of legal aid.
    We are seeking nominations for client leaders, organizational partners, or others who have donated significant time and energy to the mission of legal aid and the needs of low-income people.

Nominations for the 2020 Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Awards should be submitted online at

Additional information about the 2020 Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Awards can be found on our website,, under the Programs and Initiatives tab.

Properly completed paper nomination forms are also acceptable, however all forms must follow the format on the attached form and should include the necessary information and supporting documents. Nominations are open to everyone, and there is no limit on the number of nominations you may submit. 

Nominations are due by Friday November 1, 2019.

The Awards Committee will look for specific examples of excellence and will take into consideration commendation letters, relevant news clippings or other documents that strengthen the nomination. Nominations should be submitted online or can also be sent by mail, fax, or e-mail.

Nominations must be received no later than Friday, November 1, 2019:

PLAN Awards Committee
118 Locust Street
Harrisburg, PA  17101
Fax:  717-233-4088

While past recipients of the award are eligible to receive it again, historically repeat awards have never been awarded in an individual capacity. If you have a question as to whether someone you would like to nominate has been a past recipient, you can find a list on the PLAN, Inc. website at:

If you have other questions, please contact Natalie Bogerman at (800) 322-7572 or (717) 236-9486, ext. 207 or by e-mail at

Online Nomination Form
Download Nomination Form (MS Word) (PDF)

PLAN Excellence AwardPennsylvania Legal Aid Network Honors 2019 Excellence Award Recipients

Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. recognized the recipients of the 2019 Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Awards during the annual Awards Celebration on March 26, 2019. 
The featured speaker at the event was James J. Sandman, President of the Legal Services Corporation.

The mission of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network is to ensure equal access to justice so that Pennsylvanians can have legal representation when facing important civil legal concerns affecting their safety, health, shelter and survival. 

The Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Awards are presented each year to individuals, groups, and/or organizations that have established excellence and diligence improving the availability and quality of civil legal services for low income people and victims of domestic violence in Pennsylvania. 

The list of award recipients includes a variety of civil legal aid professionals and friends of civil legal aid across Pennsylvania who were recognized for their efforts in support of the clients served by the civil legal programs of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network.

A video tribute was shown highlighting the accomplishments of each of the 2019 recipients of the award. Those video tributes may be viewed below:



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

In addition, PLAN presented the Outstanding Leadership in Legal Services Award to the group who championed the Clean Slate Legislative Initiative. The following individuals were 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. 

We invite you to follow the link below to learn more about the 2019 Excellence Award winners.

The Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network congratulates each of the award recipients and is proud to celebrate their examples of excellence in the pursuit of Access to Justice for all citizens.

About the 2019 Excellence Award Recipients

About the 2019 Outstanding Leadership in Legal Services Award Recipient

Photos from the Awards Presentation

2019 Excellence Award Program Book


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