Pro Bono Partnership Celebrates 21st Anniversary Gala, Raising $1.8 Million

Monday, November 19, 2018 - 11:56


On October 17, 2018, Pro Bono Partnership (the Partnership) celebrated its 21st Anniversary Gala at a sold-out event at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City, raising more than $1.8 million for its programs. Thanks to the generous contributions of Gala honorees and more than 700 supporters including volunteer lawyers, law firm and corporate executives, and clients, the Partnership will be able to continue working toward its mission of providing free legal services to nonprofit organizations in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York.

Ari Melber, MSNBC Chief Legal Correspondent and anchor of The Beat, hosted the event where the Partnership presented the 2018 Pro Bono Champion Award to honorees Aetna Inc. and Thomas J. Reid, Managing Partner, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP in recognition of their service to the community and commitment to pro bono.

The Aetna Law & Regulatory Affairs Department has a distinguished history of pro bono service, and the Partnership is proud to count the company as a founding member of its Hartford, CT program. Aetna’s Thomas J. Sabatino, Jr. accepted the award, stating, "We are fortunate that we are armed with knowledge and experience about the law. For those who don’t have these skills, the legal system can be a bewildering place. And for those who face these challenges without the ability to pay for them, or even know where to go for help, it can seem like a truly daunting and hopeless situation. By participating in pro bono work, you provide those skills. You provide the tools and the lifelines for those in need of help, navigating through the world that we lawyers know all too well. By giving of your time and your knowledge, you are giving back in a way that others cannot. As lawyers and legal professionals, you will find it to be among the most rewarding and satisfying things you will ever do."

As Managing Partner at Davis Polk, Thomas J. Reid is deeply committed to pro bono projects. Davis Polk has collaborated with the Partnership for many years, including advising the first social enterprise corporation in New York State with respect to the development of affordable housing.

“It is truly humbling to be honored by an organization that does so much and is so central to providing lawyers with the opportunity to do pro bono work and to make a difference in the world, said Mr. Reid. “Our lawyers roll up their sleeves and dig deep every day in order to do pro bono work. We know what this work means to clients. It is lifesaving and life affirming, and we need so much more of that today. We, as leaders of great firms and companies, have a special responsibility to make sure all our people know that there has to be a higher purpose to what we do,” he continued.

Thanks to Mr. Reid’s leadership, many other projects followed and numerous tristate-area nonprofits benefit from the firm’s services today.

The evening’s awards included a video spotlight of recent nonprofits assisted by Aetna Inc. (view here) and Davis Polk volunteer lawyers (view here).

“I continue to be inspired and energized every day by my respect and admiration for the nonprofits we serve,” said Pro Bono Partnership Executive Director Nancy Eberhardt. “I’m proud of our mission and the work we do to strengthen and empower organizations that are doing such valuable work in our communities. We can do this only with the help of 1,400 in-house and law firm volunteer attorneys who, each year, make the Pro Bono Partnership program possible. Our volunteers answered the call for assistance with nearly 1,800 matters last year, which helped 800 of our neighborhood nonprofits avoid risk, build capacity, and preserve their scarce financial resources for their programs.”

The evening’s celebration included special guest speakers Ann Marie Puente and Alexandra Villano from Greyston Foundation, a Pro Bono Partnership client. Ms. Puente and Ms. Villano explained on the importance of the expertise and advice offered by the Partnership, and how each legal matter resolved makes Greyston stronger so that more individuals have the opportunity to work and thrive. Their impassioned speech underscored the importance of pro bono work and its impact on our communities.

Pro Bono Partnership received tireless support from Gala Chair Jonathan Mothner, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, Synchrony Financial, Dinner Chairs Kimberley D. Harris, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, NBCUniversal Media LLC and Thomas J. Sabatino, Jr., Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Aetna Inc. The funds raised at the Gala make it possible for the Partnership to provide more than $9.7 million in free legal services to the tristate-area nonprofit community annually.

Pro Bono Partnership’s 21st Anniversary Gala honored the Aetna Law & regulatory Affairs Department and Thomas J. Reid, Managing Partner, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP with 2018 Champion Awards for pro bono service. Pictured (l-r): David Yawman, Pro Bono Partnership Board Chairman, Executive Vice President, Government Affairs, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, PepsiCo; Jonathan Mothner, Pro Bono Partnership Gala Chair, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, Synchrony Financial; Thomas J. Sabatino, Jr., Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Aetna; Kimberley D. Harris, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, NBCUniversal Media LLC; Thomas J. Reid, Managing Partner, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP; Nancy Eberhardt, Pro Bono Partnership Executive Director.


Many of Pro Bono Partnership’s Board of Directors attended the 21st Anniversary Gala at Cipriani in New York City. The Gala raised $1.8 million for the Partnership’s programs providing free legal help to nonprofits in CT, NJ, NY.

Pictured left to right (seated): Chan Lee, John Liftin, David Yawman, Nancy Eberhardt, Katherine Lipton, Lauran D’Alessio, Eric Cohen, (standing) Jonathan Mothner, Evan Charkes, John Frantz, Mark Nordstrom, Frank Jimenez, John Sander, Richard Walker.