MCLU to Honor Nan Heald with 2010 Justice Louis Scolnik Award

Affiliate: ACLU of Maine
April 26, 2010 12:00 am

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PORTLAND – The Maine Civil Liberties Union Foundation will present the 2010 Justice Louis Scolnik Award to Nan Heald, Executive Director of Pine Tree Legal Assistance, on Thursday, May 6, 2010, at 7:00 p.m. at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport. A reception for event sponsors will take place immediately preceding the dinner at 6:00 p.m.

“Nan Heald’s commitment to justice and improving legal access for all Mainers is extraordinary,” said Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union. “We honor Heald for her work to improve Maine’s civil justice system, expanding access to justice for everyone.”

As Executive Director of Pine Tree Legal Assistance, Heald has helped expand access to justice for traditionally disadvantaged groups including Native Americans and young people. For over two decades, she has worked collaboratively to improve Maine’s civil justice system and she has passionately and consistently focused attention on the actual consequences of poverty in the lives of Maine residents.

“Maine is a better place because of Nan Heald’s efforts,” says Bellows. “She has engaged the public in an ongoing dialogue about the legal needs of the poor and encouraged new levels of support for legal services to meet those needs.”

Heald has been instrumental in expanding PTLA legal services to include IRS tax disputes, housing discrimination, foreclosure assistance services with a focus on predatory lending, and in developing KIDS LEGAL, the first statewide children’s legal services project in Maine.

Where legal aid and pro bono services are lacking, Heald has actively promoted the need for expanded self-help resources, including the development of user-friendly legal education materials and other self-help tools in a wide range of topics on PTLA’s nationally acclaimed websites, including,, and

Heald began her career at Pine Tree Legal Assistance in 1985 as a staff attorney. Prior to PTLA, Nan worked as a Special Assistant United States Attorney and in private practice with the firm Hewes, Culley, & Beals.

She lives in Portland with her husband, Frank D’Alessandro. Her family includes Daniel D’Alessandro, Katherine D’Alessandro, and Katie Heald.

The Scolnik Award, established in 1989, honors members of Maine’s legal community who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the protection of civil liberties. The award is named for former Maine Supreme Court Justice Louis Scolnik. Justice Scolnik was a founder and the first president of the Maine Civil Liberties Union.

The featured speaker will be Mary Beth Tinker. Mary Beth was one of the plaintiffs in a landmark students’ rights case called Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, which involved the freedom of speech.

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