About the Awards
The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School’s approach to legal education has always been anchored in an unwavering commitment to public service. Through the visionary philanthropy of Robert “Bob” Toll L’66 and Jane Toll GSE’66, the Toll Public Interest Center (TPIC) has grown into a bustling hub for public service. TPIC is home to a number of the Penn Carey Law’s public interest programs, including the Toll Public Interest Scholars Program, the Toll Public Interest Fellows Program, and the Public Interest Experience.
With the Alumni Impact Awards, TPIC seeks to recognize alumni who have utilized their law degrees to advocate for a more just and equitable society. The winner of the award will receive $10,000, and the runners up will each receive $5,000.
Launched in 2022, the Alumni Impact Awards are intended to highlight lawyers who have excelled in using innovative thinking and problem solving to produce concrete and sustainable solutions to societal problems. Nominees should be leaders in their fields who embody the tradition of public service that the Law School seeks to develop in all students.
On this page:
- 2023 Alumni Impact Awards Winner
- 2023 Alumni Impact Awards Finalists
- Nominations for the 2023 Alumni Impact Awards
- Links and Resources
2023 Alumni Impact Award Winner
The Honorable Benjamin Lerner L’65 serves as a commissioner on Citizens Police Oversight Commission (CPOC), which was created in the wake of the 2020 protest movement. He is a former judge on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, where he served from 1996 to 2019. During his two decades on the court, he presided over the Homicide Trial Division, where he authorized increases in funds for experts and investigators in indigent defendant homicide cases, and the Direct File/Decertification program, where he developed the concept of “dual jurisdiction” to enable older juvenile defendants to return to juvenile court for treatment and rehabilitation. From 1975 through 1990, Judge Lerner served as Chief Defender of the Defender Association of Philadelphia, ensuring high quality representation for indigent criminal and juvenile persons charged with crimes. He is the recipient of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Justice William J. Brennan Jr. Distinguished Jurist Award, an award given to members of the judiciary who adhere to “the highest ideals of judicial service.” Judge Lerner earned his JD from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School and undergraduate degree from Brandeis University.
2023 Alumni Impact Award Finalists
Deirdre M. Giblin L’93
Deirdre M. Giblin has specialized in asylum and refugee law for over 25 years. Following two decades of direct service work with clients in legal services and at a refugee resettlement agency, she joined the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute in 2018 to focus on systemic advocacy and impact litigation, including access to counsel, access to higher education COVID relief funds for immigrant students, and access to employment authorization for Special Immigrant Juveniles. From 2008 through 2017, she helped spearhead the first national limited representation Pro Bono Detention Bond project, and initiatives such as “Team Logan,” monitoring compliance at Logan Airport of the Federal District Court injunction against the 2017 Executive Order “Muslim Ban,” and Haitian TPS Clinic Initiatives in response to the 2010 and 2021 earthquakes in Haiti. Giblin is the co-founder of two legal and mental health collaborative programs funded by the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture and designated as National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs. She was a Case Scholar at Boston University, a Parker Scholar at Columbia Law School, and earned her JD from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School.
Omar Gonzalez-Pagan L’10, LPS’10
Omar Gonzalez-Pagan is Counsel and the Health Care Strategist at Lambda Legal. He has played a critical role in advancing the rights of LGBTQ people under the U.S. Constitution and federal civil rights laws in virtually every aspect of our lives, including education, employment, health care, and housing. He was instrumental in achieving two pivotal victories for LGBTQ people before the U.S. Supreme Court— Obergefell v. Hodges, which secured marriage equality nationwide, and Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, which held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees against discrimination because they are gay or transgender. Prior to joining Lambda Legal, Gonzalez-Pagan worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as an Assistant Attorney General, a Special Assistant District Attorney, and an Associate General Counsel to the Massachusetts Inspector General. Gonzalez-Pagan earned his JD from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, where he was an editor of the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law. He also possesses a Master of Environmental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and a BS in Biology from Cornell University.
Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg L’09
Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg is a Senior Attorney at the Public Interest Law Center focusing on education and housing issues. Urevick-Ackelsberg’s work includes leading the Law Center’s litigation team in Pennsylvania’s landmark school funding trial in which a court determined earlier this year that Pennsylvania’s school funding system was unconstitutional. Serving as class counsel, he devised a strategy to use federal law to pressure attorneys representing landlords to require their clients comply with housing code before filing eviction complaints, and the Board of Judges of the Philadelphia Municipal Court developed new court rules as a result. Prior to joining the Law Center, Urevick-Ackelsberg was an attorney at Community Legal Services, an Assistant Chief Counsel for the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, and a law clerk to the Honorable Cheryl Ann Krause of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the Honorable L. Felipe Restrepo of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He earned his JD from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School and BA in Political Science from Macalester College.
Nominations for the 2023 Alumni Impact Awards
Nominations for the 2023 Alumni Impact Awards are closed. Nominations were reviewed by a Selection Committee comprised of faculty, staff, and community partners. The recipients of the 2023 Alumni Impact Awards were announced at the Annual Pro Bono Recognition & Alumni Impact Awards Dinner on April 18, 2023, as part of the Law School’s broader celebration of service. To learn more about this event, click here.