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Legal Services of Greater Miami presents Equal Justice Leadership Awards to trailblazers committed to access to justice

News in Photos
HeART of Giving (VIP Event)

Judge Marcia G. Cooke of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida (from the left); Manuel Dobrinsky of Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, Legal Services board president; Monica Vigues-Pitan, executive director, Legal Services of Greater Miami; Neki Mohan, celebrity host; and Lilly Ann Sanchez of The L·S Law Firm, Legal Services Campaign Committee co-chair at the HeART of Giving (VIP Event).

Legal Services of Greater Miami recently honored “Equal Justice Leaders” of the South Florida community at its 12th Annual Heart of Giving Celebration and Judicial Reception. The celebrity host, Neki Mohan, served as mistress of ceremonies of the virtual event.

Those recognized included:

• 2021 Equal Justice Leadership Award winner Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

• 2021 Equal Justice Judicial Leadership Award winner Judge Marcia G. Cooke of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

• Equal Justice Philanthropic Award winner (posthumously) Jacqueline Allee Smith.

The Heart of Giving Celebration is part of the Legal Services “Together We Must” campaign for justice. The campaign, co-chaired by Brigid Cech Samole of Greenberg Traurig, Jason Kellogg of Levine, Kellogg, Lehman, Schneider + Grossman, and Lilly Ann Sanchez of The L∙S Law Firm was organized in 2009 to raise awareness of the critical need for free civil legal services for vulnerable members of the community and to raise funds for Legal Services to continue to address that need. It celebrates leaders and philanthropists in the community who contribute to Legal Services’ mission and help in the fight for equal justice.

“The past year has taught us the importance of access to a safe place to call home as well as food, healthcare and an education, and we learned just how tenuous this access is for so many of our neighbors,” said Monica Vigues-Pitan, executive director of Legal Services of Greater Miami. “Our advocacy keeps families in their homes, ensures healthcare coverage, provides additional income for food, and provides access to other essentials of personal safety and well-being. For the last 55 years, our impact has only been possible because of the support from the community that enables us to deliver far reaching outcomes for those who have no place else to turn.”

About 300 members of the legal and business community enjoyed a performance by Nicole Henry, one of the jazz world’s most acclaimed vocalists.

Robert Fatovic, chief legal officer of Ryder System, the event’s title sponsor, shared a message confirming a multi-year gift in memory of Julie Azuaje, recently deceased Ryder counsel and 15-year Legal Services board member.

Other moments of the evening include a story by Legal Services client, Army veteran Felix Cepeda, and special guest appearances by Miami-Dade County Commissioner Chair Jose “Pepe” Diaz, and R. Donahue Peebles, chair of the Peebles Corporation.

Guests also raised funds during an online auction boasting a number of items from categories in fashion, art, self-care, epicurean delights, travel, and more; plus an art exhibit curated by Susana Baker, tagged Murals of Humanity, “The Colors of Humanity” which included many artisans in the South Florida community showcasing: Ekaterina Abramova, Armando Colls, Max Jamali, Monique Lassooij, Lindsey Lux, and Diogo Snow.

To view the HeART of Giving Celebration on demand, visit

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