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Arthur N. Read

Art Read Receives Morris Dees Justice Award

Art Read, General Counsel of Friends of Farmworkers, was presented with the 2007 Morris Dees Justice Award in New York on November 15, 2007.

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 underprivileged.”

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 entertainment.

Morris Dees Justice Award Website

Profile of 2007 Morris Dees Award Winner Arthur N. Read

University of Alabama School of Law Press Release

Skadden Press Release

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 for 2008.

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 low-income individuals.

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.

Video Tribute

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2009 Excellence Award Video Tributes
Download Video Tributes

Pennsylvania Legal 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 low-income people.

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:

bullet Karen Detamore, Esq.
Executive Director, Friends of Farmworkers, Inc.
bullet Joseph K. Goldberg, Esq.
Harrisburg, PA
bullet Brian Hudson
Executive Director, Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency
bullet Catherine T. Martin, Esq.
Managing Attorney, Neighborhood Legal Services Association
bullet Kathy J. Parks
Paralegal, MidPenn Legal Services
bullet Elizabeth C. Price
Executive Director, Delaware County Bar Association
bullet Catherine Rusk
Paralegal, North Penn Legal Services
bullet Richard Weishaupt, Esq.
Senior Attorney, Community Legal Services

Also recognized with Excellence Awards were the Honorable Darnell 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 Excellence Award 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.

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 William Keech.

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.

Photos from the Awards Dinner

Thomas Tupitza Receives 'Everyday Leader' Award from the Pennsylvania Bar Association

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 Association.

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." Wins Webby Award for Best Law Website

The Webby Awards, the leading international honor for the Web, has named, the parent site of, the Best Law Website of 2007. 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.


Past Excellence Award Winners

List of All Prior Winners

About the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Awards

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.

Nominations are made in the following categories:

Legal Services Staff
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;

Private Bar
This category is for members of the private bar who display an outstanding commitment to legal aid and the legal needs of low-income Pennsylvanians;

Lay Advocacy

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 people.

Community Services
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.

Nominations are 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.

Nominations usually open in the last quarter of each calendar year for the awards to be made in the spring of the following year.

Specific 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. Internship Program
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.

Funding and 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 below.

Certificates of Recognition were presented to the interns who participated in the internship program during 2008.  Interns receiving recognition included:

Mukta Agrawal
Pennsylvania Health Law Project

Sakeenah S. El-Amin
Community Legal Services

Karen Fernandez
Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project
Philadelphia Legal Assistance

Amanda K. Franzen
Neighborhood Legal Services Association

Benjamin Haire
Northwestern Legal Services

Ema L. Iruobe
Community Impact Legal Services

Cherie N. Long
Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania

Tedeisha Rowe
Regional Housing Legal Services

Sheldon A. Smith
North Penn Legal Services

Alejandro Ventura
Community Justice Project

Truniece L. White
MidPenn Legal Services

2008 Drum Major

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.

Housing Alliance News Release


Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. The Louise Brookins Building  118 Locust Street Harrisburg, PA • 17101-1414
Phone 717.236.9486 or 800.322.7572 • Fax  717.233.4088
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