Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Awards


2017 Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network
Excellence Awards

Deadline For Nominations:  November 29, 2016

2016 PLAN Excellence AwardThank you for your nominations for the 2017 Excellence Awards.

Nominations are now closed. Check back here for the announcement of the 2017 awardees which will be released in the near future.

Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. is currently soliciting nominations for its 2017 Excellence Awards. This year, the awards dinner will be held on Tuesday, March 28, 2017, at the Hilton Harrisburg Hotel. A social hour will take place from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., immediately followed by a buffet dinner (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:

  1. Legal Services Staff. We are seeking nominations for employees for all staff positions who exhibit excellence and commitment in the performance of the duties of their jobs;
  2. Private Bar. 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;
  3. Community Services. 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; and
  4. Lay and Client Advocacy. 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 are open to everyone, and there is no limit on the number of nominations you may submit. However, all nomination forms must follow the format on the attached form and should include supporting documents and information in order to be considered by the Awards Committee. 

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 can be sent by mail, fax, E-mail or submitted online at the link below. 

Please submit your nomination as soon as possible. Online nominations are encouraged. 

Nominations must be received no later than Tuesday, November 29, 2016:

PLAN Awards Committee
118 Locust Street
Harrisburg, PA  17101

Fax:  717-233-4088

While past recipients of the award are still eligible to receive it again, historically this has never been done. 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 Machell McCoy at (800) 322-7572 or (717) 236-9486, ext. 207 or by E-mail to

Click here for Excellence Award Sponsorship and Advertising Opportunities in the official program for the 2017 awards.

Online Nomination Form
Download Nomination Form (MS Word)

Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Presents 2016 Excellence Awards

2016 Excellence Award Banquet - March 15​The Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN) honored the recipients of the 2016 Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Awards on March 15, 2016 at the annual awards dinner held at the Hilton Harrisburg.

The Keynote Speaker at the event was The Honorable J. Richard Gray, Mayor of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who began his career as a legal aid attorney and later served as the director of the legal aid program serving Central Pennsylvania.

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 PLAN 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 2016 recipients of the award. Those video tributes may be viewed below:

The recipients of the 2016 Excellence Awards are:

Joseph R. DeCristopher, Esq.
Staff Attorney, North Penn Legal Services, Sunbury, PA

FedEx Ground 
Corporate Legal Department, Moon Township, PA 

William Gibbons, Esq.
Senior Attorney, Community Legal Services, Philadelphia, PA

Hardwood Estates Project Team 

  • Wendy Carter, Director of Housing Administration, PathStone Corporation, Harrisburg, PA
  • Nancy Close, Hardwood Estates Resident Association, Conneaut Lake, PA  
  • Robert Damewood, Esq., Staff Attorney, Regional Housing Legal Services, Pittsburgh, PA 
  • Carla Falkenstein, Director of West Region, Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Kenneth Joseph, Esq., Of Counsel, Pepper Hamilton LLP, Pittsburgh, PA 
  • PA Department of Environmental Protection Safe Drinking Water Program
  • Mel Reinhart, Hardwood Estates Resident Association, Conneaut Lake, PA
  • Charles G. Scalise, President & CEO, Housing and Neighborhood Development Services of Erie, Erie, PA
  • Wesley S. Speary, Esq., University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 

Rochelle L. Jackson
Public Policy Advocate, Just Harvest and Board Member, Neighborhood Legal Services Association, Pittsburgh, PA

Mark A. Krochka, Esq.
Staff Attorney, Neighborhood Legal Services Association, New Castle, PA 

Matthew D. Lee, Esq.
Partner, Blank Rome LLP/Pro Bono Volunteer, Philadelphia VIP, Philadelphia, PA

Jeffrey A. Mills, Esq.
Partner, Nikolaus & Hohenadel, LLP, Lancaster, PA

Excellence Award in Cy Pres Advocacy

The following law firms will receive the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Award for their Cy Pres Support of Legal Services to the Pennsylvania IOLTA Board and its grantees:

  • Barrack, Rodos & Bacine (Mark Rosen, Esq.), Philadelphia PA
  • Donovan Axler, LLC (Michael D. Donovan, Esq.), Philadelphia, PA 
  • Feldman, Shepherd, Wohlgelernter, Tanner, Weinstock, Dodig LLP, (Alan M. Feldman, Esq.), Philadelphia, PA
  • Francis & Mailman, PC (James Francis, Esq.), Berwyn, PA 
  • Kessler, Topaz, Meltzer & Check, LLP (Lee D. Rudy, Esq.),  Radnor, PA
  • Wohl & Fruchter LLP (Ethan D. Wohl, Esq.), New York, NY

You are invited to follow the link below to learn more about the 2016 Excellence Award winners.

Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. and all of the regional and specialty legal aid programs in the network congratulate the recipients of the Award for their past and ongoing efforts to help individuals and families across Pennsylvania who have no where else to turn when faced with a legal crisis.

About the 2016 Excellence Award Winners