2019 Celebrate Pro Bono Award Winners Announced

2018 Celebrate Pro Bono Award Winners

MVLS’s 2019 Pro Bono Awards Ceremony is quickly approaching, and we are thrilled to announce our award winners who will be honored at the ceremony on October 15 at the American Visionary Arts Museum.

This year, MVLS will present six awards:

Law Firm of the Year: Santoni, Vocci, & Ortega, LLC

With this award, MVLS recognizes the law firm that has provided significant services to the organization’s clients either by representing many individuals or using significant firm resources for one client. Santoni, Vocci, & Ortega, LLC, a Baltimore County firm, is being recognized for its extraordinary commitment to pro bono. Since 2017, Santoni, Vocci, & Ortega has provided pro bono legal assistance to 76 consumer cases.

Volunteer of the Year: Franzella Hayward Starkey

MVLS presents this annual award to a volunteer lawyer who has contributed the most to its pro bono program through either individual client representation or expansion of the delivery of pro bono legal services. Based in Wicomico County, Ms. Starkey was selected for her willingness to support MVLS clients in a variety of legal issues including, bankruptcy, adoption, custody and divorce. Since joining MVLS’s volunteer panel in 1996, she has accepted 91 cases.

Partnership of the Year: Betsy Simon of Z-HAP™

MVLS gives this award to individuals or organizations that have uniquely contributed to the mission of MVLS. Based in Baltimore City, Ms. Simon is being recognized for this award for her continued advocacy for older adults. She is an integral part of the success of MVLS’s Advanced Planning Project and its new My Home, My Deed, My Legacy homeowner campaign.

Young Lawyer of the Year: Anthony May

MVLS’ Young Lawyer of the Year recognizes a young attorney who contributes a significant amount of time to help low-income Marylanders. Based in Baltimore City, Mr. May is being recognized for his willingness to assist MVLS with a variety of legal issues, willingness to learn new areas of law, and through his leadership in the legal community.

Community Impact Award: Leonard Kelly

Based in Washington County, Mr. Kelly is being recognized for his long-term commitment to MVLS and the Washington County community. With his help at the Circuit Court for Washington County, more than 10,000 clients have received pro bono legal assistance over the past 15 years.

Special Recognition Award: Bonnie Sullivan

Ms. Sullivan is retiring at the end of September after 13 years of service to MVLS and will be presented with this special award for her commitment and dedication to pro bono legal services.

We will also recognize all of the volunteers who have taken at least one case each year for the past 10 and 20 years:

20 Year Award Winners

  • Christopher R. Rahl 
  • James Wiggins

10 Year Award Winners

Stanley Alpert

Alan Bloom

Gary L. Compton

Lawrence D. Coppel

Kenneth Davies

Jason Morton

Thomas Mulinazzi

Our current Executive Director, Bonnie Sullivan, would like to see many Maryland attorneys join us for this evening: “I encourage all Maryland lawyers – whether you’re just starting your career as an attorney, an established attorney in a law firm, or corporate counsel – to experience new opportunities through pro bono work. Many of our honorees had reservations in the beginning, but are now flourishing in our volunteer network. I look forward to congratulating our 2019 Celebrate Pro Bono award recipients at this year’s event.”   

We hope to see you on October 15!