The Maryland Legal Services Corporation board of directors is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2019 Annual Awards. The recipients will be recognized at the MLSC Annual Awards Reception, to be held December 9, 2019 at the Lord Baltimore Hotel in Baltimore. Learn more about the event at mlsc.org/awards/annual-reception.
Hon. Cathy Hollenberg Serrette, associate judge at the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, will receive the Arthur W. Machen, Jr. Award. Judge Serrette has been a steadfast advocate for access to justice as an active participant in the Prince George’s County pro bono committee. She is a past president of Community Legal Services of Prince George’s County and Pro Bono Resource Center, an active member of the Court of Appeals’ Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Service and a member of the Maryland Access to Justice Commission. Judge Serrette also led the effort to establish the Prince George’s County Family Justice Center, which hosts a wide spectrum of service providers for clients in need.
Nina Shore, chief attorney of Maryland Legal Aid’s Midwestern Maryland office, is the 2019 recipient of the Benjamin L. Cardin Distinguished Service Award. Ms. Shore has dedicated 40 years to legal services for low-income people in Kansas, Alabama, Nevada, South Dakota and Maryland. She has a superb ability to make connections, leading to many local partnerships that help Maryland Legal Aid better serve their clients. Ms. Shore provides training to local government officials and has established a robust pro bono program for her office. She is an expert in poverty law issues and mentors both staff and volunteers, all in the pursuit of improving the lives of low-income Marylanders.
MLSC will present two Rising Star Awards for 2019. Amy Hennen, managing attorney for housing and consumer law at Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, has shown leadership, energy and a profound commitment to serving low-income Marylanders. At MVLS, she launched the Bankruptcy Bypass Program for clients whose debts are collection proof and expanded outreach to Spanish-speaking communities. Ms. Hennen lends her expertise to several coalitions related to water affordability, tax sale and body attachments.
Ingrid Löfgren, director of the Homeless Youth Initiative at Homeless Persons Representation Project, has revolutionized the way legal services are provided to homeless youth in Baltimore and significantly shifted policy conversations surrounding the needs of homeless youth on a state level in Maryland. She originally designed the Homeless Youth Initiative as a Skadden Fellow with HPRP, and in 2017 the American Bar Association selected the Initiative as a model program. Ms. Löfgren ensures that all services are youth-centered, taking into account her clients’ needs, desires and past experiences with the justice system.
Nora Eidelman, deputy director at Community Legal Services of Prince George’s County, will receive the William L. Marbury Outstanding Advocate Award. Ms. Eidelman has worked for CLSPGC for more than 20 years, including a time when she stepped in to direct the organization while the executive director was on leave. She actively seeks ways to improve CLSPGC services and increase visibility in the community, especially among Spanish-speaking clients. Ms. Eidelman serves on the Maryland Partners for Justice Conference planning committee and local pro bono committee.
The Charles W. Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center is the 2019 recipient of the Herbert S. Garten Public Citizen Award. The Gilchrist Center serves as a hub for immigrant services, including English and job-readiness classes. Embracing the importance of legal services for their clients, they have worked with the Montgomery County Bar Foundation, Asian Pacific Legal Resource Center and Ayuda to provide legal clinics and intake for immigration and other civil legal services. The Gilchrist Center’s staff are dedicated to making Montgomery County a welcoming community for immigrants and has promoted civil legal services as an important tool in reaching that goal.
MLSC’s mission is to ensure low-income Marylanders have access to stable, efficient and effective civil legal assistance through the distribution of funds to nonprofit legal services organizations. Since the Maryland General Assembly established the organization in 1982, MLSC has made grants totaling over $312 million to help provide services in more than 3.5 million legal matters for Maryland’s families in areas of family, housing, consumer, employment and other civil legal matters.