Theresa Donovan, ’14, Receives 2015 Honorable Gary L. Lancaster Award

Pitt Law alumnus Theresa Donovan has been named the 2015 recipient of the Honorable Gary L. Lancaster Award for Public Interest or Service.

A 2014 graduate, Donovan is a QI support coordinator at the May Institute, a nonprofit based in Randolph, Massachusetts, that serves individuals with mental illness, developmental disabilities, brain injuries, and other behavioral health needs. While a student, Donovan served as a client counselor at APPRISE, a free health insurance counseling service for older Pennsylvanians, and volunteered with Christian Legal Aid of Pittsburgh. She earned a BS in psychology at Northeastern University.

The Honorable Gary L. Lancaster, JD ’74, was the first African American Chief Judge in the United States District Court of Western Pennsylvania, having served from 2009 to 2013. He dedicated his life to the public service of the bench and was known as the “people’s judge” who could take on any case. On his passing in April 2014, he and a number of generous alumni, faculty, family and friends provided funding to establish an endowed fund to be allocated as a part of the school’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program. To be eligible for the award, Pitt Law alumni must have graduated within three years of their application and demonstrated high academic achievement, be from disadvantaged backgrounds, and currently work in the areas of public interest or service. Preference is given to residents of Western Pennsylvania.

Donovan says public service has always been her passion. “Over the years, I have worked as an advocate for individuals with mental illness, developmental disabilities, and significant and financially burdensome ailments, as well as those attempting to get back on their feet after years in the legal system and those struggling with a variety of civil law issues, but who have no way to pay for necessary legal services.

“Pitt Law—especially Professor Alan Meisel’s Health Law Certificate program—has given me the opportunity to become a stronger advocate for the legal rights of these individuals, and I plan to continue this work for the entirety of my career.”

Those interested in supporting Pitt Law and Judge Lancaster’s legacy can make a tax-deductible gift or pledge here toward the fund that will help make a difference in the lives of students and alumni like Donovan.