All Staff and Board Conference Recap


On November 29, Maryland Legal Aid staff and board members convened for the All Staff and Board Conference at Arundel Prevserves hotel in Hanover, MD. This year's conference included remarks from keynote speaker Dan Hatcher, former Maryland Legal Aid Child Advocacy attorney and author of The Poverty Industry. Staff and Board members participated in breakout sessions about storytelling, stress management, 401K and investment strategies, and civil legal aid as re-entry services. Afternoon sessions were dedicated to discussions about human rights issues in anticipation of International Human Rights Day (December 10, 2016).

Left: Chief Attorneys Conni Bright-Gordon (Baltimore City Administrative Law Unit) and Cynthia Fenimore (Western Maryland office); right: Keynote Speaker Dan Hatcher.

The audience looks on during remarks made by Keynote Speaker Dan Hatcher.

Staff Attorney Scott Black from the Baltimore City Intake Services Unit and Human
Resources Specialist Linda Brooks.


During the conference, recipients of the Diane Kinslow and Charlie Awards were announced
and staff were recognized for years of service at Maryland Legal Aid.

Charlie Award Winners:

  • Louise Carwell, Senior Attorney, Baltimore City Housing/Consumer Unit
  • Seri Wilpone, Chief Attorney, Southern Maryland Office

The Charlie Award is named in honor of former Executive Director Charles H. Dorsey, Jr. ,
and recognizes staff who exemplify the mission and values of Maryland Legal Aid and who
have gone above and beyond in their service and dedication to clients and to the
organization as a whole.

Diane Kinslow Award:

  • Alexa Bertinelli, staff attorney, Metropolitan Maryland Office

The Diane Kinslow Award is given in memory of former Maryland Legal Aid staff attorney
Diane Kinslow, and recognizes an advocate with less than 5 years of experience who "best
exemplifies and demonstrates the qualities of courage, compassion, and love in the
provision of legal services to the clients of Maryland Legal Aid." Diane was a Child in Need of
Assistance (CINA) attorney in Maryland Legal Aid's Northeast Maryland office from March
2007 until her passing in January 2011.

Staff Attorney Alexa Bertinelli (right) from Maryland Legal Aid's
Metropolitan Maryland office was joined on stage by the family of
former Maryland Legal Aid attorney Diane Kinslow.


Service Award Recipients:

  • Five Years: Isaac Conver, Itta Englander, Amber Mitchell, Richard Perry, Gretchen Reimert, Pamela Smith, and Ashley Penater
  • Ten Years: Stephanie Guevara, Michele Plummer, Conte Robinson, Virginia Rosa, Gustava Taler, and Lauren Walker
  • Fifteen Years: Deborah Corley, Erica Herndon, Lewis London, Frances Matthews, Nance White McCaig, Debbie Oliver, Risheena Schwemle, Marianne Sierra, and Sandra Wooten
  • Twenty Years: Ruben Ballesteros
  • Twenty-Five Years: Mary Battle, Teresa Cooke, Joan Little, Karen Michaels-Johnson, and Lolita Wilson
  • Thirty Years: Louise Carwell
  • Thirty-Five Years: Desiree Diggs and Joyce Diggs
  • Forty-five Years: Helen Maness
  • Fifty Years: Odella Oliver

Ron Williams, presenter for the Power of Storytelling session, shared his impressions about the conference and the staff of Maryland Legal Aid: "You all do incredible work and embody what it means to be agents of social change. I was glad to attend the conference and witness the powerful engagement and longevity of the MLA team. I thought it was moving and powerful to call the names of everyone at the end. That demonstrates the value your organization holds for each and every person."