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August 21, 2002

Greenlee Named 2002 Sandra Day O'Connor Award Recipient

Ellen T. Greenlee, Chief Defender of the Defender Association of Philadelphia, has been named winner of the Bar Association's 2002 Sandra Day O'Connor Award.

Named in honor of the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, the award is presented annually to an outstanding female attorney in the Philadelphia area by the Association's Women in the Profession Committee.

"It was about the single greatest surprise of my life when they walked into my office to tell me I'd won," she said.

"I'm extremely pleased because I've spent my entire legal career as a public defender. It's a very prestigious award and I'm very pleased and happy they selected me," Greenlee said. "In some measure it's a personal honor, but it's a big thrill that the chief public defender was selected."

Greenlee is a lifelong resident of Philadelphia, educated in its parochial schools and a graduate of Chestnut Hill College. There she was selected as a Fulbright scholar for study in France.

She taught French, Spanish and English for five years in the Clifton Heights, Delaware County, High School. Thereafter she worked as a public relations assistant in the International Division of Smith Kline Laboratories in Philadelphia.

In 1970 she entered Villanova Law School, graduating in 1973.  Since that time, she has worked as a public defender in Philadelphia as a trial attorney, supervisor, First Assistant Defender and, for almost 10 years now, as the Chief Defender.

Greenlee has held several positions within the Bar Association. She was a member of the Board of Governors in 1998. She has been on the Executive Committee of the Criminal Justice Section since 1990, serving as Section chair in 1997. She has also been a member of the Judicial Commission since 1990.

She served as president of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association from 1994 to 1997 and was the group's vice president from 1992 to 1994. She also belonged to the Association's Defender Committee from 1989 to 1994. Greenlee is also a member of both the Pennsylvania and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

In addition to volunteer activities involving the law, she serves on boards dealing with problems of homelessness and prison conditions. She is a founding member of the Board of New Directions for Women. She's also been involved with People's Emergency Center, the Community Women's Education Project and the Women's Law Project.

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