Bilzin Sumberg Announces Winners of Third Annual Matters of the Heart Pro Bono Awards

Press Release
October 18, 2022

Miami, FL – Bilzin Sumberg continued its long-standing tradition of putting community service at the center of firm culture as it hosted its third annual Matters of the Heart Pro Bono Awards.

The Awards recognized pro bono services provided during 2021 in two categories. The One-to-One Category highlights pro bono work that directly touches the lives of individual pro bono clients and their families. The One-to-Many Category acknowledges pro bono work aimed at assisting organizations that have an impact on entire segments of the community.

The One-to-One Category recognized Government Contracts and Public-Private Partnerships attorney Elise Holtzman Gerson for her three-year effort in representing a child in foster care. Elise assisted the child in searching for and evaluating housing options, helped her to enter into the extended foster care program, and supported her enrollment into the Postsecondary Education Services and Support program - a state program for former foster youth to receive the skills, education, and support necessary to become self-sufficient and have lifelong connections to supportive adults.

The One-to-Many Category recognition went to Land Development & Government Relations attorneys Javier F. Aviñó and Andres T. Rivero, Real Estate attorneys Sara Barli Herald, Nicholas Noto, and Daniel R. Bumm, Construction attorney Kelly Ruane Melchiondo, and Litigation attorney Adrian K. Felix, for their work on the Overtown Youth Center on behalf of the Mourning Family Foundation. The Overtown Youth Center’s mission is to engage children in the historically under-served Overtown neighborhood of Miami in educational and recreational activities that promote their academic, social, emotional, and physical development. The team’s efforts included extensive land use, zoning, and real estate work in connection with the redevelopment of the center, and representation before the City Commission to approve additional programming and facilities, including a charter school.

The firm gave an Honorable Mention to Litigation attorney Kayla M. Hernandez for her work on behalf of a group of four minor siblings who were discovered living in an abandoned house. Kayla has represented the siblings for over a year, recently assisting two of them in starting college. The Bilzin Sumberg team representing Lincoln Lodge, Inc. was also given an Honorable Mention, comprised of Real Estate attorney Sara Barli Herald, Tax & Private Wealth attorney Misbah Farid, and paralegals Vivian C. Rivero, Mayolis Romero, Vanessa Valladares, and Amanda Finley. This team counseled Lincoln Lodge on the establishment of a not-for-profit entity that will provide affordable housing for re-entering citizens from the justice system.

“It is extraordinarily heartening to see our commitment to serving the local community strengthened year after year,” said Raquel M. Fernandez, Litigation Partner and Head of Matters of the Heart Pro Bono Program. “With every Matters of the Heart awards ceremony, we are reminded of the power of pro bono to change lives for the better.”

As part of Bilzin Sumberg's culture of community service, all attorneys and staff are encouraged to participate in Pro Bono work. All those recognized by the Matters of the Heart Pro Bono Awards exemplify the firm's dedication to the community and the indelible impact of Pro Bono work.

"At Bilzin Sumberg, our pro bono work is a central pillar of our engagement with local residents in need of legal services and local organizations working day-in and day-out to make our home a better place,” said Albert E. Dotson, Jr., Bilzin Sumberg Managing Partner. "We strongly encourage our attorneys to get involved in the pro bono matters that they’re passionate about and to be an uplifting force for positive change.”

About Bilzin Sumberg

Bilzin Sumberg counsels clients whose business and legal opportunities and challenges span the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia. The firm's growth has paralleled that of its Miami home base, a region known for its rich cultural, social, and professional diversity. Bilzin Sumberg stands at the center of virtually every major transaction shaping Florida and is at the forefront of the state’s most pressing economic issues – from infrastructure, transit and mobility, to affordability and the diversification of the state’s economy. Bilzin Sumberg lawyers concentrate on services at the heart of both regional and international commerce, including real estate, land development and government relations, environmental, construction, corporate and securities, finance, joint ventures, domestic and international tax and private wealth planning, antitrust, business litigation, and public-private partnerships. For more information, please visit

Javier F. Aviñó
Practice Group Leader, Land Development & Government Relations
Daniel R. Bumm
Albert E. Dotson, Jr.
Chief Executive Officer & Managing Partner
Misbah Farid
Adrian K. Felix
Kayla M. Hernandez
Nicholas Noto
Andrés T. Rivero
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