Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Awards

Important Update: 2020 PLAN Conference and Excellence Awards

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Dear friends and colleagues:

I hope this finds you well. Thank you for all that you do each day to support PLAN’s work on behalf of vulnerable Pennsylvanians. As we adjust to life as it has been altered by COVID-19, we have had to make some difficult decisions about when it will be safe to offer in-person trainings or celebrations including our annual Statewide Conference and Excellence Awards. The safety of PLAN program staff, clients, and guests at our in person events is very important to us.  As such, after much discussion, thought, and input from different groups within the PLAN Network we have decided that, due to restrictions from the ongoing pandemic, we will not be able to safely hold an in-person PLAN Statewide Conference this year. 

 . . .

Unfortunately, we have also concluded that we do not believe that we can safely have the Excellence Awards dinner in September this year. This is disappointing to us and I am sure to you as well. We are committed to honoring our 2020 Excellence Award winners and so we have decided that we will be honoring all 2020 Excellence Award winners, and our Outstanding Leadership Award winner, at our awards dinner in 2021. We will not be selecting a new slate of award winners for 2021, but will use that dinner to honor our 2020 awardees and celebrate our community’s collective response in tackling COVID-19.

The 2021 dinner is scheduled for March 23, 2021 at the Hilton in Harrisburg. Please put this on your calendars. I am pleased to confirm that Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice David Wecht has agreed to be our speaker for our 2021 dinner.

If you are a sponsor, contributor, advertiser, or have bought a ticket to the 2020 Awards Dinner you should have already received a separate email from me about your refund options. If you have not received this email, please reach out to me directly. 

I am sorry that we are not able to gather in person as a PLAN community this fall either for our conference or to host our dinner, but delighted that we will get to do so in 2021! Again, thank you for all that you do to support PLAN and our programs! Be well. Take care of yourself and others.

Best regards,


Patrick M. Cicero, Esq.
Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network
118 Locust Street |Harrisburg, PA 17101
(717) 710-3822 (direct dial)
(717) 576-2588 (mobile)
(717) 233-4088 (fax)
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2020 Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Awards Rescheduled for September 9, 2020

PLAN Excellence AwardPennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. is pleased to announce that the 2020 PLAN Excellence Awards has been rescheduled and will be held Wednesday, September 9, 2020 at the Hilton Harrisburg. The times of the event remain the same with a reception beginning at 5:00 PM and the banquet beginning at 6:00 PM. 

The 2020 Excellence Awards were originally scheduled to be held on March 31, 2020 but were postponed due to the current COVID-19 pandemic and the statewide mitigation efforts that were enacted to save lives and stop the spread of the virus.

The 2020 Excellence Awards will now precede PLAN’s annual statewide conference which is scheduled to take place September 10-11, 2020 at the Hilton Harrisburg. 

PLAN looks forward to honoring the following at the rescheduled event: 

  • Wesley C. Allen, Esq. 
    Senior Attorney, Family Advocacy Unit • Community Legal Services • Philadelphia, PA
  • Mardi Busanus 
    Volunteer • Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania • Doylestown, PA
  • El Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agrícolas (CATA) 
    El Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agrícolas (The Farmworkers Support Committee) • Kennett Square, PA
  • Robert Damewood, Esq. 
    Staff Attorney • Regional Housing Legal Services • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Erin Guay 
    Paralegal • Pennsylvania Health Law Project • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Samuel R. Grego, Esq. 
    Principal • Dickie McCamey, & Chilcote, P.C. • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Gabriele Miller-Wagner 
    Administrative Assistant, Pro Bono Department • Pennsylvania Bar Association • Harrisburg, PA
  • Matthew S. Rich, Esq. 
    Staff Attorney • MidPenn Legal Services • Harrisburg, PA
  • Joan M. Tutak, Esq.  
    Senior Attorney • Neighborhood Legal Services • Butler, PA

In addition, the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network is honored to present the Outstanding Leadership In Support of Legal Services Award  to: 

  • Samuel W. Milkes, Esq.
    Executive Director Emeritus, Pennsylvania Legal Services Network, Inc.

Additional details regarding event registration will be forthcoming. In the meantime, please save the date(s).

Please contact Natalie Bogerman ( if you require additional information or have any questions. 

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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