December 17, 2014 10:00 ET

Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys Honors State Senator Jamie Eldridge and Others at Annual Meeting

Awards Legislative, Community and Chapter Leaders for Their Advocacy for Seniors; Presents Senator Eldridge With the Legislator of the Year Award

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwired - Dec 17, 2014) - At its annual meeting on Thursday, December 11th, 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 Senator James B. "Jamie" Eldridge was named the Legislator of the Year for his support and efforts for passage of legislation that protects seniors. Carole A. Wagan, the Director of Academic Programs and Professional Education at Suffolk University Law School, received the Arthur Stavisky Award, an honor MassNAELA bestows each year on a non-attorney who has dedicated themselves to promoting elder causes in the community.

Deborah Thomson, who is retiring as MassNAELA's lobbyist, received the inaugural Deborah H. Thomson Advocacy Award, created and bestowed in recognition of her tireless efforts advocating elder issues in state government for the past 20 years. Ms. Thomson also received a Senate Citation from Senator Eldridge for her legislative work on Beacon Hill.

The inaugural John J. Ford Litigation Advocacy Award recognizing dedication to advocating elder law was bestowed on John J. Ford, Lynn, MA and others who served on the MassNAELA Litigation Steering Committee: Carol Cioe Klyman, Springfield, MA; Susan Levin, Newton, MA; Patricia Keane Martin, Boston, MA; John J. McNicholas, Medfield, MA; and Emily S. Starr, Worcester, MA.

Awards for Outstanding Chapter Members were bestowed on MassNAELA members Brian Barreira, Plymouth, MA; Laura Silver Traiger, Worcester, MA; and Liane Zeitz, Dedham, MA for their commitment of time and energy to the chapter. Special President's Awards were also bestowed on Rebecca J. Benson, Boston, MA; Margot G. Birke, Newburyport, MA; and Timothy R. Loff, Newton, MA for their service to and support of the chapter and its president. Judith Flynn, Rockland, MA received an award for her service and dedication as the 2014 chapter president.

The MassNAELA annual meeting also included the election of chapter officers and directors for the New Year. The 2015 officers include president, Daniel M. Surprenant, New Bedford, MA; president-elect, Margot Birke, Newburyport, MA; vice president, Laura Silver Traiger, Worcester, MA; treasurer, Steven Mann, Waltham, MA; clerk, Karen B. Johnson, Acton, MA; and immediate past president, Judith Flynn, Rockland, MA.

Newly elected directors include: Matthew P. Albanese, Milton, MA; Maria Baler, Dedham, MA; Pamela Greenfield, Raynham, MA; Alexis B. Levitt, Hingham, MA; Paula A. Nedder, Milford, MA; Natalie A Simon, Gloucester, MA; and Jane E. Sullivan, Fall River, MA.

The evening also featured a panel of speakers who provided updates on developments in key areas of elder law and estate planning. Shirley B. Whitenack, national NAELA president-elect, provided an overview of current national policy issues related to elder affairs; Deborah Thomson presented an update on legislative initiatives on Beacon Hill; John Ford discussed the implementation of the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act and changes to be expected in guardianship practice both procedurally and substantively; and Emily Starr explained how the definition of income under the Affordable Care Act is tied to the MAGI (Modified Adjusted Gross Income) that includes income distribution from a SNT.

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 and better serve their clients.

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. Nearly 500 attorneys are members of the Massachusetts Chapter. Members 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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