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Best Practice

Vol. 9, Nos. 1 & 2

On Delivery of Legal Assistance to Older Persons

March 1998

Wisconsin and Massachusetts Elder Rights Advocates Receive Eleventh Lichterman Awards

One of the highlights of Symposium '97 -- Reinvigorating Legal Assistance for the Elderly was the presentation of the Eleventh Paul Lichterman Awards, an award first presented in 1986 to Dr. Arthur Flemming. The Lichterman Award honors Paul's commitment to the advancement of quality legal assistance for older persons and effective access to the system of justice; the award recognizes and focuses public appreciation on individuals who -- at the state and local level -- perform outstanding and notable work toward that end.

The awards ceremony was made very memorable by the participation of Paul's widow, Norma Brooks, an inspirational poem by Paul's son Daniel, and a short speech by Paul's father Al, who had attended prior awards ceremonies but had not previously spoken at the ceremony. Bill Benson of the Administration on Aging served as Master of Ceremonies and presented the awards to the following outstanding elder rights advocates.

Betsy Abramson

Like Paul Lichterman, Betsy Abramson is an indefatigable natural leader and a constant source of new ideas to protect and preserve the rights of older persons. In over 15 years working in law and aging, Betsy has gained the overwhelming respect of her peers in Wisconsin and the nation. As Director of the Elder Law Center of the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups, she has created a legal back-up center which is a driving force on statewide legislative, litigative and administrative reform issues, and a leading provider of legal education and training.

Creativity in the development of new programs and approaches has been a hallmark of Betsy's career. She has initiated numerous special projects, many of which are now continuing programs, including ones on: health care decision making; volunteer elder abuse prevention money management; mediation in guardianship cases; a guardianship support center; as well as a variety of training programs, including a major Medicare/Medicaid Training Project for A.A.R.P. Betsy does all this and more, while maintaining an over-achieving community service schedule and, with her husband of 18 years, David Seligman, raises two "fantastic" sons, Aaron and Noah.

John Ford

A friend and colleague of Paul Lichterman, John Ford mirrors Paul's courage and tenacity, and adds to it a calm reason and wisdom that has made John a leader in elder rights advocacy in Massachusetts. John brings to both his work and his extensive community service a dedication and commitment which is exemplified by his having remained with Neighborhood Legal Services in Lynn, MA since 1972 and directed its Elder Law Project since 1977. In 1995, his outstanding leadership earned him the Legal Service Award of the Massachusetts Bar Association.

John excels at forging alliances dedicated to advancing elder rights legal advocacy. In 1977, with Paul and others, John was one of the founders of the statewide Elderly Legal Coalition -- a coalition of lawyers and aging advocates which has been the premier advocate force on elder rights issues. John has also spearheaded guardianship reform efforts in the legislature, through a number of special projects, and on the MA Attorney General's Task Force. He has worked to advance quality legal assistance for elders as a founder and current President-elect of MA Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and as a long-time member of the MA Bar Association Elderly Rights Committee. John's record is one of results, but always with great humility.

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The Center for Social Gerontology, Inc.
A National Support Center in Law and Aging
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