Yvette Long Presented with Mary Ellen Hamilton Award by NLADA


Yvette LongPLAN Board member Yvette Long was presented with the prestigious Mary Ellen Hamilton Award  by the National Legal Aid and Defender Association at its awards luncheon during the NLADA Annual Conference on November 12, 2010.

The Mary Ellen Hamilton Award, given biennially, honors a legal services client or low-income community leader who, on a compensated or volunteer basis, has provided extraordinary service or support to the delivery of legal assistance to low-income people.

The award commemorates one of the founders of the National Clients Council and the Alliance for Legal Rights, who served on NLADA’s board of directors and remained an active Alliance member until her death in 1985

A person is eligible to be recognized with this award for service in a volunteer or paid capacity as a client, a client board member, or a community advocate and who meets one or more of the following criteria:

  • The individual has provided extraordinary service or support to the goal of achieving equal justice for low income people;
  • The individual has demonstrated leadership in a local, state or national role to enhance the involvement of clients as decision makers in their individual cases and in the legal aid programs that advocate on their behalf;
  • The individual has successfully promoted or exemplified the effective engagement of clients and other representatives of low-income communities in the delivery of legal assistance in those communities.

Ms. Long has served on the Board of Directors of Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. (PLAN, Inc.) for a total of 14 years. She served as the President of the Board from March 2006 to March 2008, and then served as the President Emeritus for the next two years. Prior to that, she was Secretary of the Board from March 2000 to March 2004 and President Elect from 2004 through 2006.

in addition to this statewide legal aid leadership, Ms. Long has been a long-time volunteer and advocate for the Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Welfare Rights Organizations. In that role she is very active in advocating for client interests by advising and advocating with Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare.

She has been named by the current Secretary of the Department of Public Welfare as the Chair of the Income Maintenance Advisory Committee and as the Chair of its subgroup, the Employment and Training Advisory Committee. She also chairs the Medical Assistance Advisory Committee.

Recently, Ms. Long played a lead role in helping secure $2.5 million in stimulus funding to support legal services during these tough economic times. She then turned around to gain $600,000 in annualized funding for a statewide legal services employment project, to help clients transition from welfare to work by eliminating barriers to employment. Additional, she has been a leading advocate for legal services funding in the state budget.

Ms. Long previously served on the board of NLADA and was honored by the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network with its prestigious Excellence Award in 1999.

Ms. Long is one of the five "Equal Justice Heroes" receiving awards at the November event. Others being honored include:

  • Reginald Heber Smith Award: Josefina Pontoja-Oquendo, attorney coordinator of the special education project at Puerto Rico Legal Services in San Juan, Puerto. This award recognizes the dedicated service and outstanding achievements of a civil legal aid attorney or indigent defense attorney while employed by an organization supporting such services.
  • Denison Ray Award: Jeremy Lane, executive director of Mid‐Minnesota Legal Assistance. The "Denny" award honors persons who have provided at least five years of service to the legal services community in staff, client or volunteer capacities.
  • Emery Brownell Award: The Daily Record, a newspaper that covers the mid‐sized city of Rochester in western New York. This award provides for national recognition to newspapers, films, radio, and television stations that have informed the public of the crucial role played by civil or defender organizations in ensuring equal justice for poor people.
  • Arthur von Briesen Award: Chris Messerly and Philip Sieff of the law firm Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, LLP. This award honors an attorney not employed by a legal services or defender program, who has made substantial volunteer contributions in support of the delivery of legal services and/or indigent defense representation.

More on Award Winners from NLADA [PDF]