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Homeless Advocate Honored by Columbia Law's Public Interest Law Foundation

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

  • Organization: National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty

McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act Architect Named Public Interest Achievement Award Winner by the Public Interest Law Foundation

Maria Foscarinis, Founder and Executive Director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP), has been named the 2006 recipient of the Annual Public Interest Achievement Award by the Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) of Columbia Law School.

"Maria is the type of leader that we all wish to be," said Kaitlin Cordes, president of the PILF board of directors. "She is both effective and passionate enough to make a difference in the world."

Since 1991, PILF has hosted an annual dinner to bring together Columbia Law School alumni, faculty, students, and New York area lawyers to present the Public Interest Achievement Award to an individual who has made significant contributions to public interest law.

Foscarinis will receive the award during a dinner at the Faculty House at Columbia University on November 29 for her role as an architect of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and for her tireless efforts to advocate for solutions to homelessness at the national level since 1985.

"The PILF board of directors believes she is an inspiring role model for students who want to blaze their own trail and contribute to society," Cordes explained.

Foscarinis, a Columbia Law School graduate, was a Law Review editor, a clerk for a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and an associate at the Wall Street firm of Sullivan & Cromwell before she began her advocacy career.


The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty was established in June 1989, two years after Congress passed the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, the first comprehensive federal legislation addressing the problems of homelessness.

NLCHP's mission is to prevent and end homelessness by serving as the legal arm of the nationwide movement to end homelessness. To achieve its mission, NLCHP pursues three main strategies: impact litigation, policy advocacy, and public education.

The Public Interest Law Foundation at Columbia was founded in 1980 as an independent, not-for-profit corporation. It raises money through events and donations to support and promote the practice of public interest law at Columbia and across the country. PILF distributes funds annually in the form of Public Service Fellowships and Community Grants.

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