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— Public Defender Melinda Ghilardi to receive Lynette Norton Award —

HARRISBURG (April 20, 2005) — The Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) Commission on Women in the Profession will present the Lynette Norton Award to federal public defender Melinda Ghilardi during its twelfth annual conference May 5 at the Hilton Pittsburgh. The award will be presented at a noon luncheon, which will feature Helen P. Pudlin, senior vice president and general counsel for PNC Financial Services Group, Pittsburgh, as the keynote speaker.

The award was created in memory of Lynette Norton, a founding member of the PBA Commission on Women in the Profession who died in 2002. Lynette Norton was an advocate for young women in the legal profession and worked to promote women’s rights and literacy. This award is designed to recognize and encourage female attorneys who excel in litigation skills and who are devoted to mentoring female lawyers.

Beginning her career as an assistant district attorney in Lackawanna County in the early 1980’s, Ghilardi went on to become a federal public defender in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. She currently serves as the first assistant federal public defender and manages the Scranton office. She provides active representation to qualified defendants in criminal prosecution as well as those seeking relief through the federal courts in the areas of habeas corpus and immigration matters. In the wake of September 11, Ghilardi has been active in redefining the procedures necessary to provide professional representation for those clients.

Ghilardi is active in the local legal community having served as the second female president of the Lackawanna Bar Association in 2004. During her term, Ghilardi dealt with the county’s budget crisis and worked to ensure that all members of the public would have continued access to legal materials needed for the administration of justice. She is a member and past officer of the National Association of Federal Defenders and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. She is also a member of the Lackawanna, Pennsylvania, American and Federal Bar associations. Ghilardi is a long-term member of the Association of Women Lawyers of Lackawanna County and the PBA Commission on Women in the Profession.

As a mentor, Ghilardi has participated for 20 years in the BPW Career Shadowing Program, providing guidance and counseling for seventh and eighth grade girls who seek to the join the legal profession. She also mentors undergraduate students from the University of Scranton through the Women’s Leadership Mentoring Program. In addition, Ghilardi offers internships to both college and law school students. Active in her community, Ghilardi serves on countless boards and has received numerous awards from Lackawanna County organizations.

Ghilardi is a graduate of the University of Scranton and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

For more information about the conference and luncheon or to view registration materials, visit the PBA Web site at www.pabar.org.