December 12, 2013 10:30 ET

Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys Awards Legislative and Community Leaders for Their Advocacy for Seniors

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwired - Dec 12, 2013) - At its annual meeting on Tuesday, December 3th, the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (MassNAELA) honored several individuals for their advocacy of elder services and their commitment to raising awareness of legal issues affecting seniors. Massachusetts State Representative James O'Day was named the Legislator of the Year award for his support and efforts for passage of legislation protecting seniors and providing funding for elder programs. He will be presented with his award on January 23, 2014. Muriel R. Gillick, M.D., a physician and author specializing in the care of elderly patients, received the Arthur Stavisky Award, an honor MassNAELA bestows each year on a non-attorney who has dedicated themselves to helping seniors in the community.

MassNAELA member, Daniel M. Surprenant, Esq., of New Bedford, MA, was also recognized as the MassNAELA Chapter Member of the Year for his commitment of time and energy as a chapter officer and member of its executive board. He was selected for this honor from among the chapter's 500-plus members. Special President's Awards were also bestowed to Phil Murphy, Esq., of Milton, MA, the 2013 immediate past president, and Judith Flynn, Esq., of Rockland, MA, the 2013 president-elect, for their service to and support of the chapter and its president. An award was also presented to Holly Harris, Esq., of Norwell, MA, for her service and dedication as the 2013 chapter president.

The MassNAELA annual meeting also included the election of chapter officers for the new year. The 2014 officers include president, Judith Flynn, Esq., of Rockland, MA; president-elect, Daniel M. Surprenant, Esq., of New Bedford, MA; vice president, Margot Birke, Esq., of Newburyport, MA; treasurer, Steven Mann, Esq., of Waltham, MA; clerk, Karen B. Johnson, Esq., of Acton, MA; and immediate past president, Holly Harris, Esq., of Norwell, MA.

The evening also featured a panel of speakers who provided updates on developments in key areas of elder law and estate planning. Bradley Frigon, Esq., national NAELA president-elect, provided an overview of current national policy issues related to elder affairs. Attendees also heard an update on legislative initiatives on Beacon Hill from Deborah Thomson, Esq., MassNAELA lobbyist and principal of The PASS group, which specializes in legislative and administrative advocacy. Other speakers included Michael Couture, Esq., who summarized the year's important developments in Special Needs Planning law; John Ford, Esq., who presented the past year's important developments in MassHealth litigation; Paul Bernstein, Esq., who summarized the year's developments in the areas of probate and estate administration; Janice Nigro, Esq., who addressed recent issues in probate law; and Patricia D'Agostino, Esq., who discussed updates on MassHealth.

The MassNAELA annual meeting was preceded by a vendor fair which featured 17 organizations showcasing their elder care services. The vendor fair provides MassNAELA members with awareness of essential quality-of-life services to which they can connect at-risk seniors, thereby better serving their clients.

Representative O'Day is currently the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs. Under his leadership, the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs has taken testimony and favorably reported many bills on elder issues. Representative O'Day is a strong supporter of funding for elder programs and issues such as funding for home care programs, Councils on Aging, and long term care. He represents the fourteenth Worcester district, which includes West Boylston, and Worcester Ward 1, precinct 5; Ward 2; and Ward 3, Precincts 1, 3, and 5.

Dr. Gillick is a prolific author and blogger on the topic of aging. In addition to specializing in the care of patients with advanced age or illness, she is a professor at Harvard Medical School in Boston and a faculty member in the Department of Population Medicine within the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute.

About MassNAELA
The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the premier organization of elder and special needs law attorneys in the country, is dedicated to developing awareness of issues concerning the elderly and those with special needs. Over 500 attorneys are members of the Massachusetts Chapter, which comprises 12% of all NAELA members nationwide. They work directly with the elderly and those with special needs in areas as diverse as planning for catastrophic care costs, disability planning, age discrimination in employment and housing, benefits planning, estate planning, veterans' benefits and more. For more information about MassNAELA, visit

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