General Counsel of Friends of Farmworkers, was presented
with the 2007 Morris Dees Justice Award in New York on November
The Morris Dees Justice Award was created in 2006 by the law
firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and The
University of Alabama School of Law to honor Dees, an Alabama
graduate, for his life-long devotion to public service. Dees is
the co-founder and chief trial counsel for the Southern Poverty
Law Center in Montgomery, Ala.
The award is given annually to a lawyer who has devoted his or
her career to serving the public interest and pursuing justice,
and whose work has brought about positive change in the
community, state or nation. Last year's winner was U.S. District
Judge William Wayne Justice, of the Eastern District of Texas.
The selection committee recognized Art Read for nearly 30 years
of tireless, courageous, and effective representation of
farmworkers and immigrants.
Read was nominated by more than 20 organizations and
individuals. As Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Pedro
A. Cortés noted in his supporting letter, “It is fitting that he
be considered in the company of Morris Dees . . . . In a like
manner, Mr. Read has dedicated his career and life to providing
a voice for the disadvantaged and advocating on behalf of the
Morris Dees presented the award during a reception at Skadden’s offices in New York on November 15, 2007 in honor of
the winner. Alabama blues legend, Willie King, provided
Andrew F. Susko Awarded NLADA's 2008
Arthur von Briesen Award
Andrew F. Susko
has been named the winner of the National Legal Aid and Defender
Association's prestigious Arthur von Briesen Award
This award honors a private attorney who has made substantial
volunteer contributions in support of the delivery of civil
legal aid or indigent defense representation. The award
celebrates the achievements of the first president of NLADA.
Attorney Susko, a partner with the Philadelphia law firm of
White and Williams, LLP, has given countless hours as an
advocate, leader and volunteer for providing legal help to
As president-elect and later president of the Pennsylvania Bar
Association (PBA), he led the PBA in improving legal access for
the poor, including the passage of resolutions creating a pro
bono standard for attorneys and pushing the state's legislature
to increase funding for legal aid.
The award was presented at the NLADA 2008 Annual Conference
Awards Luncheon on Friday, November 21 at the Marriott Wardman
Park Hotel in Washington, DC.
Aid Network Presents 2009 Excellence Awards
The 2009 Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Awards were
presented at the annual awards dinner on Tuesday, March
31, 2009, at the Harrisburg Hilton & Towers.
The evening's keynote speaker was The Honorable Marjorie O. Rendell,
Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. A social hour preceded the awards
dinner which began at 6:00 PM.
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
The 2009 Excellence
Award recipients include 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 programs
of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network. Individuals
selected for recognition include:
Karen Detamore, Esq.
Executive Director, Friends of Farmworkers, Inc.
Joseph K. Goldberg, Esq.
Executive Director, Pennsylvania Housing Finance
Catherine T. Martin, Esq.
Managing Attorney, Neighborhood Legal Services
Kathy J. Parks
Paralegal, MidPenn Legal Services
Elizabeth C. Price
Executive Director, Delaware County Bar
Paralegal, North Penn Legal Services
Richard Weishaupt, Esq.
Senior Attorney, Community Legal Services
Also recognized with Excellence
Awards were the HonorableDarnell Jones,
Judge, U.S. District Court of Eastern District of PA
(and former President Judge of the Court of Common
Pleas, Philadelphia County), and the Honorable
Annette Rizzo, Judge, Court of Common Pleas,
Philadelphia County, for their work relating to the
groundbreaking Residential Mortgage Foreclosure
Diversion Pilot Program that was implemented in the
Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in 2008.
The HomeWorks Project was also presented with an
for a unique and innovative collaboration between
Regional Housing Legal Services and the Pennsylvania
Health Law Project to develop a supportive housing
project tailored to the needs of a group of disabled
Individuals recognized in connection with the
project include David Gates, Esq., PA Health Law
Project and Kim Dolan, Esq., Regional Housing
Legal Services, as well as the residents of the project,
Kevin Alston, Michael Anderson and
A video tribute to each of the award
winners was presented during the awards ceremony. Those
video tributes may be viewed above. Pennsylvania Legal
Aid Network, Inc. salutes each of the 2009 award winners
for their efforts in promoting equal justice to all.
Thomas Tupitza Receives
'Everyday Leader' Award from the Pennsylvania Bar
PLAN Board Treasurer and Erie County lawyer Thomas A.
Tupitza received an Everyday Leader Award from the
Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) at noon on Thursday,
June 7, during a meeting of the Erie County Bar
Association at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center.
Tupitza is president of Knox McLaughlin Gornall and
Sennett P.C., Erie.
"Tom invests significant energies into bettering his
community and his profession," said PBA President
Kenneth J. Horoho Jr., who will present the award to
Tupitza. "His exemplary devotion to voluntary service
has made and continues to make a positive difference in
northwestern Pennsylvania and well beyond." A life-long
Erie resident, Tupitza participates in numerous civic,
charitable and religious organizations.
Tupitza currently serves in leadership roles for two
organizations dedicated to providing free legal
representation to low-income people. In addition to
serving as the treasurer of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid
Network board of directors, he serves on the board of
directors for Northwestern Legal Services.
Tupitza is a member of the advisory board for The
Nonprofit Partnership, a community building project of
The Erie Community Foundation. He was instrumental in
the creation of the organization's The Nonprofit Pro
Bono Project: Professionals Helping Nonprofits, which
matches eligible organizations with local lawyers and
certified public accountants who are providing free
consultation and education to the nonprofit community.
Additionally, Tupitza serves on the boards of the Erie
Area Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Warner Theatre
Presentation Trust. He also is a member of the Rotary
Club of Erie.
In support of his profession, he has served on several
PBA committees, including the Delivery of Legal Services
to the Needy Committee from 1998 to 2001. He is a fellow
of the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation. From 2003 to 2005,
Tupitza served on the board of the Erie County Bar
Association. He is a member and past president of the
Pennsylvania Association of Bond Lawyers, National
Association of Bond Lawyers and American Health Lawyers
Tupitza is past president of the American Baptist
Churches of Pennsylvania and Delaware, and he is a
moderator, deacon, Sunday school teacher and substitute
pianist at Wayne Park Baptist Church, Erie.
An honors graduate of Westminster College in New
Wilmington, Tupitza currently serves on its board of
trustees and previously served as president of the
college's Alumni Council. He received the Westminster
College Alumni Citation in 1998. Tupitza also graduated
with honors from Harvard Law School.
Tupitza and his wife, Carol, have been married for 20
years and have a sixteen year-old son, Adam.
"The Everyday Leader Award is given to individuals who
go above and beyond, sharing their time and talent to
help and support others," said Horoho. "They work hard
each and every day performing good works, not for
personal gain or recognition, but for the right reasons
- to improve the places they call home and to better
Pennsylvania's legal system. Tom Tupitza is one of these
'everyday leaders' and is deserving of this award which
is presented in gratitude of his contributions to native
Erie and throughout Pennsylvania."
LawHelp.org Wins Webby Award
for Best Law Website
The Webby Awards, the leading international honor for
the Web, has named
LawHelp.org, the parent
site of PALawHELP.org,
the Best Law Website of 2007.
LawHelp.org is a portal that provides low and moderate
income individuals with state-based legal referrals,
know-your-rights information and a variety of self-help
tools. It was created and is managed by Pro Bono Net,
the nonprofit leader in technology solutions to expand
access to justice for those in need.
“We are honored to be singled out as creators of the top
legal website, but share this award with the more than
200 legal aid, pro bono, bar and court-based access to
justice partners around the county with whom we have
collaborated on LawHelp,” says Mark O’Brien, Executive
Director of Pro Bono Net.
About the Pennsylvania
Legal Aid Network Excellence Awards
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
made in the following categories:
This category is for all staff positions. We are
seeking nominations for employees who exhibit
excellence and commitment in the performance of
the duties of their jobs;
This category is for members of the private bar
who display an outstanding commitment to legal
aid and the legal needs of low-income
This category is 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
This category is for volunteers and friends who
demonstrate exceptional dedication to legal aid.
It may include legislators or government
officials, clients, community leaders, or others
who help promote the mission of legal aid.
open to everyone. You do not have to be a member
of the legal aid community to submit a
nomination. You also do not have to be a
member of a particular category to submit a
nomination in that category. There is no limit
to the number of nominations you may submit.
usually open in the last quarter of each
calendar year for the awards to be made in the
spring of the following year.
information on nominations and a submission form
will be posted here when nomination open for
next year's awards.
Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Recognizes
Participants in 2008 Martin Luther King Jr.
The Pennsylvania Legal
Aid Network celebrated the 2008 Martin Luther King
Jr. Internship Program at a reception that was held
on August 6, 2008 at the Dauphin County Bar
Association in Harrisburg.
Pedro A. Cortes, Secretary of the Commonwealth
was the keynote speaker at the Recognition Reception.
Secretary Cortés was nominated as Secretary of the Commonwealth by
Governor Rendell on April 2, 2003 and was unanimously confirmed by
the Senate on May 13, 2003, making him the first confirmed Latino
Cabinet member in Pennsylvania history.
financial support for the MLK Internship program is provided by the
Pennsylvania Interest on Lawyers Trust Account Board and the
Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. PLAN appreciates the
ongoing support of these organizations for the MLK program.
The 2008 edition of
The Drum Major, a
collection of essays by the interns reflecting on their summer in
legal services, was distributed at the reception. The essays
included in The Drum Major may be viewed at the link
Certificates of Recognition were presented to the
interns who participated in the internship program during 2008.
Interns receiving recognition included:
Pennsylvania Health Law Project
Sakeenah S. El-Amin
Community Legal Services
Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project
Philadelphia Legal Assistance
Amanda K. Franzen
Neighborhood Legal Services Association
Northwestern Legal Services
Ema L. Iruobe
Community Impact Legal Services
Cherie N. Long
Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania
Mark Swartz Receives Leadership
Award from Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania
Mark Schwartz, Executive Director of Regional Housing
Legal Services was named the co-recipient of this year's Leadership
Award presented by the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania. He shares the
2007 award with Larry Swanson, Executive Director of ACTION Housing.
In nominating Swanson and Schwartz for the award, Housing Alliance
Executive Director Liz Hersh praised their many years of dedicated
service to the cause of affordable housing.
Each year the Housing Alliance honors individuals or organizations who
have contributed significantly to the effort to ensure that every
Pennsylvanian has a home within their reach. This year's honorees
received their awards at the 2007 Homes within Reach Conference which
took place on December 6th and 7th, in Harrisburg.