Celebrating colleagues a theme at this year's Grantee Reception

Issue November 2003

The Massachusetts Bar Foundation honored one of its own recently by awarding the Great Friend of Justice Award to Past MBF President Margaret "MarDee" D. Xifaras, an MBF Louis D. Brandeis Life Fellow.

Xifaras received the top honor during the MBF Grantee Reception on Sept. 23, an event that also recognized recipients of 2003/2004 IOLTA grant awards for their good work.

Representatives from MBF-funded organizations across the commonwealth attended, including legal service providers, mediators/conciliators, pro bono attorneys and county bar associations. Also, Jayne Tyrrell and Steve Casey attended on behalf of the Massachusetts IOLTA Committee.

Massachusetts Bar Foundation President Steven Wollman stands with Margaret "MarDee" D. Xifaras, who received this year's Great Friend of Justice Award presented by the Massachusetts Bar Foundation on Sept. 23.
Frederick Dow, president, and Zenobia Lai, attorney, of the Harry H. Dow Memorial Legal Assistance Fund, with Kenneth MacIver, executive director of Merrimack Valley Legal Services at the MBF Grantee Reception.
Mary Klaes, Attorney, HIV/AIDS Law Consortium of Western MA, Rosa Previdi, Attorney, and Julie O'Hanley, Private Attorney Involvement Coordinator, New Center for Legal Advocacy, and Diane Palladino, Coordinator, HIV/AIDS Law Consortium of Western MA at the Sept. 23 reception.
The evening included a short program with brief remarks from MBF President Steven Wollman, MBA President Richard Van Nostrand and MBF Acting Executive Director Abigail Shaine. Immediately following the remarks, Wollman presented the Great Friend of Justice Award to Xifaras.

Recognized for her commitment to the MBF mission over the years, Xifaras spoke candidly about overcoming personal struggles and her passion for the legal profession as well as her profound respect and love for many of her colleagues.

"It is exciting to have a community to give back to," Xifaras said.

Xifaras later highlighted the importance of dedicating yourself to helping others.

"We all need to give back in our lives," Xifaras said. "It's never enough to work, work and do your job competently. You have to go to a higher level of involvement because in the end that's all that counts."

Wollman said the MBF chose Xifaras for the top honor because of her breadth of service to the legal community and the Massachusetts Bar Foundation.

"If you look at people who significantly contribute to the legal community, the association and the Foundation, MarDee is just there," Wollman said. "That is just one of the reasons we presented the award to her."

Xifaras, a partner in the New Bedford law firm of Lang, Xifaras, and Bullard, became involved with the Foundation in 1986. She served as president from 1996-1998 and previously served as chair of the MBA's Family Law Section Council. She is a frequent panelist or presenter on family law and ethics. She also is a member of the Bristol County Bar Association and the New Bedford Bar Association. Since 1999, she has served as chair of the Board of Trustees at Southern New England School of Law.

Wollman credited Xifaras for the countless hours she has spent doing charitable work.

The "Great Friend of Justice" award was established in 2000 to recognize members of the community that have helped the Foundation advance its mission to increase access to justice. Previous recipients include Perkins Smith & Cohen, Capital Crossing Bank, Citizens Bank, Eastern Bank and former MBA Executive Director Susan Waters.

Wollman said this year's reception was the most highly attended yet.

"We are happy to be able to provide our Fellows and donors with the opportunity to meet and talk with our grantees to learn firsthand about the important work that the Foundation supports," Wollman said.

Each year, the reception also affords MBF grantees an opportunity to meet one another and discuss their work. This year, the Foundation awarded 126 grants to 89 organizations across the commonwealth, totaling a record of more than $2.9 million.