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November 18, 2009

Judge Annette M. Rizzo, Joseph A. Sullivan of Pepper Hamilton LLP and André L. Dennis of Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young LLP Awarded Philadelphia Bar Association Awards at Annual Meeting and Luncheon, Dec. 8

The Philadelphia Bar Association awarded its prestigious Justice William J. Brennan Jr. Distinguished Jurist Award to Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Annette M. Rizzo, its Wachovia Fidelity Award to Joseph A. Sullivan, director of pro bono programs at Pepper Hamilton LLP, and its Chancellor’s Diversity Award to André L. Davis, a partner with Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young LLP, at its Annual Meeting and Luncheon, Dec. 8 at the Park Hyatt Philadelphia.

First presented in 1995, the Brennan Award honors a jurist who adheres to the highest ideals of judicial service. Past recipients include Justice Russell M. Nigro and Honorable Sandra Mazer Moss. Judge Rizzo was recognized as the driving force behind the city’s Residential Mortgage Diversion Pilot Program, an initiative launched in June 2008 that helps struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure. The American Bar Association recently awarded its Harrison Tweed Award to the Philadelphia Bar Association for its work with the program, which has helped more than 1,500 homeowners.

“Judge Rizzo took a very, very difficult situation that was driven by national economic circumstances and constructively worked out a program that benefits both sides,” said Brennan Award Committee Chair John E. Savoth.

“The program has had such a positive effect on the community. The homeowners and the mortgage companies both benefit. It’s a win-win for everybody. That, coupled with her incredible energy and work ethic in getting the program up and running, are the primary reasons she was chosen,” said Savoth.

Judge Rizzo was appointed to the Court of Common Pleas in 1998 by then-Gov. Tom Ridge. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University School of Law.

Since 1966, the Wachovia Fidelity Award has recognized an attorney’s significant accomplishments in improving the administration of justice through voluntary activities rather than services rendered as a paid professional. Along with Sullivan’s pro bono efforts at Pepper Hamilton LLP, he is co-chair of the Bar Association’s Delivery of Legal Services Committee.

In nomination materials, Sullivan is cited as “integral to almost every major effort of our public interest community over the last decade, helping to strengthen the resources and futures of our organizations and programs and promoting the ideal of access to justice” and “a model attorney citizen for promoting pro bono within his firm and for leading by example in partnering with dozens of legal services agencies around the city.”

Sullivan serves on the boards of Community Legal Services, the Homeless Advocacy Project (ex officio and as past president) and Inn Dwelling (a community development organization for which he is board chairman). Sullivan is also active in a number of other organizations, including the Philadelphia VIP, and has served as adjunct faculty at Villanova University School of Law.

Sullivan is a past counsel to the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Bar Association, and he has served as an independent counsel to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and as a legal advisor to the Philadelphia School Reform Commission. He is a recipient of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Louis J. Goffman Award, the highest honor for pro bono service, and its Pro Bono Award for Philadelphia County.

The Chancellor's Diversity Award recognizes an individual who has made a substantial contribution to diversity and inclusion in the legal field. Dennis served as Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association in 1993 and is currently a partner with Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, LLP.

"With characteristic modesty, Andre Dennis accepted the Bar Association's highest award for an incredible body of work in the field of diversity and inclusion," said Chancellor Sayde J. Ladov.

In 2000, Dennis was appointed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Committee on Racial and Gender Bias in the Justice System. He received the Civil Liberties Award from the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation and the National Bar Association bestowed the Region III Advocacy Award upon him. His alma mater, Howard University School of Law, recognized him as a Distinguished Alumnus. Dennis has been honored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense Educational Fund and received the American Bar Association's Pro Bono Publico Award.

Also at the Annual Meeting and Luncheon, Scott F. Cooper of Blank Rome LLP outlined his agenda for his year as Chancellor of the Bar Association. Cooper’s term officially begins Jan. 1, 2010.
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