College of Law > Academics > Centers, Institutes & Initiatives > Center for Public Interest Law > Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative > Service Awards

Service Awards

​​DePaul Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative Service Awards

DePaul Law students completed over 3,900 hours of service during the 2020-2021 academic year by participating in a variety of service opportunities including:

  • Preparing advanced directives for seniors 

  • Providing legal help to low income individuals without attorneys through Illinois Free Legal Answers

  • Helping victims of domestic violence obtain emergency orders of protection

  • Assisting immigrants with petitions for asylum and citizenship appliactions

  • Teaching constitutional law to students in Chicago Public Schools

  • Participating in virtual legal clinics, providing clients from across the country help with a myriad of legal matters

  • Prepared soup from scratch and distributing this soup from the soul to those experiencing food insecurity
  • Crafted toys and other enrichment items for shelter animals

  • A yearlong collaboration with the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, other community partners, PBCSI, and the Croak Community Legal Clinic, directly responding to the eviction and housing crisis in Chicago by assisting clients with preparing eviction sealing motions

2022 Student Service Award Recipients 

The Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) presents four service awards annually to students who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to service during law school. 

Named in honor of one of the law school’s most outstanding alumni, the Benjamin Hooks Distinguished Public Service Award is awarded to graduating third and fourth year students who have completed 200 or more hours of volunteer service during their time at DePaul and who best exemplify the Vincentian commitment to service and social justice.

  • Farzana Ahmed
  • Reagan Airey
  • Samuel F. Archie
  • Nicole Fox
  • Jonas Hwang
  • Megan Osadzinski
  • Nicholas Pugesek
  • Whitney Roth
  • Sophia Carroll Wilson

Awarded to students completing 200 hours of volunteer work during their time at DePaul

  • Nicole Alfano
  • Connor Bender
  • Manpreet Chauhan
  • Emad Mahou
  • Chad McJannett

Awarded to students completing 100 hours of volunteer work during their time at DePaul

  • Hannah Blackwell
  • Laura Chapman
  • Benjamin Dockery
  • Rachel Goldnese
  • Olivia Kappers
  • Monica Saavedra
  • Henry Stillwell
  • Sheng Tong
  • Sarah Van Pelt

Awarded to students completing 50 hours of volunteer work during their time at DePaul

  • Courtney Barthelemy
  • David Blondin
  • Caileen Crecco
  • Lucas Godwin
  • Ashley Mastro
  • Dominique Mejia
  • Valentine McLemore
  • Joseph Noonan
  • Sabrina O'Connor
  • Tyler Stradling
  • Sydney Wipperfurth

2022 Alumni Service Award Recipient

PBCSI also honors a DePaul alumna/us who, through years of service, has demonstrated an ongoing and deep commitment to pro bono legal services for the poor and disadvantaged and has inspired others to do the same. 

Lisa K. Nelson (JD 1993)

Maria Puppo Martinez

Lisa K. Nelson is a partner at Birnbaum, Haddon, Gelfman  Arnoux, LLC. She has committed a significant portion of her 25+ years of legal practice to pro bono  and service work, especially dedicated to the representation of children. She serves the best interests of children of divorce while inspiring, mentoring, and teaching family law students and attorneys. Highlights of Lisa's service include:

  • Acting as a top court-approved mediator for family law cases.
  • Providing court-appointed representation for children, helping them navigating the difficult and emotional legal process of a divorce or child-related matter.
  • Devoting years to the domestic relations legal community through her service to the Cook County Domestic Relations Division, heling strengthened and trained attorneys to advocate for a child's best interest: 
    • With the Screening Committee, interviewing and screening lawyers for approval to Cook County Domestic Relations Division Child Representative and Guardian ad Litem appointment list.  
    • On the Training Committee, working collaboratively with the committee in drafting, preparing, and presenting materials for training new members to the Child Representative and Guardian ad Litem appointment list. 
    • With the Child Representative Seminar Committee, meeting annually with the committee to discuss and plan seminar ideas for the next year. 
  • Spending 25 years with the Cook County Office of the Public Guardian, where she represented children in child protection cases and in domestic relations matters.
  • Serving as a long-time member and now Chair of DePaul University College of Law's Schiller, DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center Advisory Board, promoting and facilitating service to students and fellow alumni. 
  • Participating as an Advisory Board Member and Stakeholder for the Circuit Court of Cook County Domestic Violence Division, Family Court Enhancement Project.
  • Serving as a Committee Member, City of Chicago Safe Havens Supervised Visitation and Safe Exchange Grant Program.

Lisa's outstanding commitment to service truly embodies DePaul's Vincentian values and is an inspiration to the College of Law community.