WASHINGTON – At a National Press Club event October 18, 2013, the National Senior Citizens Law Center conferred its first Distinguished Advocacy Award to former Executive Director Paul Nathanson.
The award is officially named the Paul Nathanson Distinguished Advocacy Award and will recognize future advocates who have shown outstanding leadership in advocacy on behalf of low-income older adults.
Nathanson was the organization’s first executive director, starting in 1972 and served until 1980. He returned five years ago to again lead NSCLC.
“NSCLC has increased its national footprint and has had a tremendous impact on the lives of countless older adults under Paul’s leadership,” said Board of Directors Chair Robert Johnson. “It has been a great privilege for me to work with both Paul and our new Executive Director Kevin Prindiville who served as Deputy Director for the past three years.”
“Paul was at the helm when the SSI program was first implemented and made sure that legal services was funded in the Older Americans Act,” noted Prindiville. “And, in the last five years, $1 billion dollars in Social Security and SSI benefits have been returned to over 100,000 recipients because of NSCLC’s leadership and $600 million plus of health care services to over 300,000 California seniors.”
“He has been a tireless leader in the field of aging,” said NSCLC Directing Attorney Georgia Burke in her introductory remarks. “He’s been a champion of people who are old and people who are poor. Paul’s also championed the role lawyers can play in making lives better so that the elderly poor can live in dignity.”
“Under Paul’s leadership and for 41 years, NSCLC has led the charge to protect programs like Medicare, Social Security and Supplemental Security Income that allow seniors to live healthier lives and with a measure of economic security,” noted Prindiville. “The fact that there are 6.5 million elderly poor who are still at risk of homelessness, isolation, hunger, and unnecessary institutionalization means that the need for an organization like NSCLC has never been greater.”
“I’m very touched and honored,” Nathanson told a crowd of board, staff, national organization leaders, Capitol Hill staff, federal officials, media and policymakers. “Unfortunately, the issues we started to address in1972 are still with us. The poor are still invisible, especially when there are discussions about various government programs. Our unique role as a voice for the elderly poor continues.”
Nathanson will continue as Special Counsel to NSCLC and continue to work on projects such as, educating policymakers about the need to update the SSI program rules that keep millions of seniors in poverty rather than lift them out.
The National Senior Citizens Law Center is a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to protect the rights of low-income older adults. Through advocacy, litigation, and the education and counseling of local advocates, we seek to ensure the health and economic security of those with limited income and resources, and access to the courts for all. For more information, visit our Web site at www.NSCLC.org.