2012 Recipient

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Where presented : 
NLADA Annual Conference
Recipient(s) name: 
Gerry Singsen
Recipient title: 
Recipient organization: 
Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission
Recipient organization city: 
Recipient organization state: 
Reason for selection of recipient(s): 

NLADA is pleased to award the Denison Ray Award to Gerry Singsen. Nominated by no less than 40 leaders from the civil legal services community, Singsen is an inspirational figure to his colleagues and friends and true champion of equal justice.

Singsen began his legal services career as a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow in 1968, and immediately accomplished astounding results. During four years as a staff attorney and unit director at the Legal Aid Society of Westchester county, he litigated New York’s welfare residency case to affirmation by the U.S. Supreme court, won a voting rights case and created a county-wide Community Development effort. In the following six years Singsen served as Assistant General Counsel for New York City’s Community Action for Legal Services, a program with more than 140 attorneys, where he established management and performance systems and gained national visibility for labor relations in legal services.

In 1975, Singsen spent three months as a member of Lou Oberdorfer’s Transition Team that closed the OEO Legal Services Program and brought the Legal Services Corporation into existence. In 1978, Gerry returned to LSC as a full-time consultant on funding and policy and from 1979 to 1982 served as LSC’s Vice President for Finance and Management under LSC President Dan Bradley. In this role, Gerry managed the “ABC” Committee that led LSC’s management of the program issues involved in the 1981 fight for the survival of LSC.

On the front lines of many of the difficult moments in legal aid history, he used his vision, analysis and discipline to find new solutions and minimize some of the harm of political pendulum shifts. In 1975, as a leading member in the Project Advisory Group’s famous Funding Criteria Committee, Gerry emerged as a leading analyst on such issues as expansion, equalization, state support, and migrant and Native American funding. Gerry’s writing of PAG’s 1993 “Equal Justice for People in Poverty,” which called for national funding of full representation with $3.6 billion. PAG adopted the paper after a ringing call by Denny Ray.

Gerry Singsen is a leader, a visionary, a strategist, a mentor, and a doer, who values excellence and integrity, collaboration and change in service to our country’s most marginalized and disadvantaged client populations. He has provided thoughtful advice, training and assistance to thousands of leaders in our community over years of dedicated service. He has been on the front lines of significant developments in legal aid funding and policy since the early days of our work. We can think of no better recipient of this year’s Denison Ray award, than Gerry, who knew and worked closely with Denny, and who, just as Denny was, is a treasured friend and mentor to so many in our community over decades.