Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Presents 2011 Excellence Awards

The Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network presented its 2011 Excellence Awards at the annual awards dinner on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at the Harrisburg Hilton and Towers.

The list of 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.

Individuals presented with the 2011 PLAN Excellence Award include:

  • Philip A. Bertocci, Esq.
    Supervising Attorney, Community Legal Services Inc., Philadelphia, PA
  • Cheryl Coe
    Paralegal, North Penn Legal Services, Towanda, PA
  • Jesse W. Edison
    Client Advocate, Neighborhood Legal Services Association, Corapolis, PA
  • Phyllis E. Guillaume
    Chief Financial Officer, Regional Housing Legal Services, Glenside, PA
  • Joseph A. Tate, Esq.
    Private Bar Volunteer, Dechert, LLP, Philadelphia, PA 
    Mary Richardson Graham
    Senior, Development Officer, Community Legal Services Inc., Philadelphia, PA
  • Thomas A. Tupitza, Esq.
    Private Bar Volunteer, Knox McLaughlin Gornall & Sennett, P.C., Erie, PA
  • Karen Tyler
    Paralegal, Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Chester, PA
  • Brenda Zimmerman, Esq.
    Attorney, MidPenn Legal Services, Lewistown, PA

"The mission of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network is to ensure equal access to justice so that Pennsylvanians can have representation, when facing important civil legal concerns, affecting their safety, health, shelter and survival," said Samuel W. Milkes Esq., Executive Director of PLAN. “Our Excellence Award recipients epitomize the tireless efforts of legal aid advocates and friends in the private bar who work to deliver on the promise of justice for all.”

The Excellence Awards program at the dinner included special recognition of those individuals and groups involved in the creation of Pennsylvania’s statewide Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP).

Pennsylvania’s LRAP program will provide financial assistance to 75 public interest attorneys and will assist the 25 IOLTA funded organizations in the recruitment and retention of program lawyers.

This program, which began in June 2010, helps to expand and retain the pool of talented attorneys who are pursuing public service to assist underrepresented Pennsylvanians. Civil legal aid programs across Pennsylvania have struggled to hire and retain qualified legal talent and relieving the debt burden of some new lawyers helps to ease that challenge. Recognition of the LRAP program included the presentation of the video appearing above at the award program dinner.

The event's keynote speaker was Pennsylvania State Senator Jay Costa, a former Excellence Award recipient in 2005 for his leadership and support in the development of the Older & Wiser program. Older & Wiser is a public education program designed to provide legal information to older Pennsylvanians through a unique partnership of state legislators, legal aid programs, bar associations, pro bono attorneys,law firm, foundations and businesses.

“The work of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network is honorable and vitally important as more of our residents require civil legal assistance in resolving critical problems involving such basic needs as shelter, health care, income and personal safety,” said Senator Costa. “I applaud these individuals, who everyday give those who have nowhere else to turn, equal access to justice.” 

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