NCBF Excellence Award



Deborah R Gross

Chancellor, Philadelphia Bar Association
Of Counsel, Kaufman, Coren & Ress, P.C.
Past President (2013-2014)
and Former Trustee of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation

Debbie Gross is a true trailblazer in her support for Philadelphia's public interest legal community and the advancement of access to justice. For more than 10 years, she has been a resilient advocate for the Philadelphia Bar Foundation's work, donating more than $150,000 to the Foundation during that time.

As a Trustee, she has participated in the Grants Committee, the Finance Committee, the Annual Benefit Committee, the Development Committee, and many ad hoc Task Forces. During her Foundation Presidency, she dedicated time and resources to the 50th anniversary fundraising efforts, which included hundreds of personal phone calls and meetings with law firms on behalf of the Foundation.

As a result of Debbie's establishment of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation's Cy Pres Committee, the Foundation has received hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund access to justice in Philadelphia. Cy Pres is a program which requests courts to award the residual moneys from class action lawsuits to the Foundation. Although these funds fluctuate from year to year, they have contributed a great deal to the Foundation's ability to award annual grants to its civil legal aid nonprofit partners.


The Philadelphia Bar Foundation is currently spearheading a Philadelphia Equal Justice Center project in which Debbie has become deeply invested. She provides leadership of, and commitment to, the project, allowing the Foundation to make great strides in its development.

The Philadelphia Equal Justice Center is a unique venture which will set a new national standard for inter-agency collaboration, operational efficiency, and client-centered delivery of free legal services by co-locating dozens of legal aid organizations in one state-of-the-art, purpose-built facility. Debbie is an advocate for the property development with Philadelphia's public officials and provides important guidance in the capital campaign efforts for the building.

Philadelphia Justice Center Project Birds Eye View

Take Action Philly

In her current role with the Philadelphia Bar Association as Chancellor, Debbie has leveraged the resources available to her to launch a collaboration called Take Action Philly. An expansion upon her personal mission as Chancellor, Take Action Philly unites the Bar Association, the City of Philadelphia, the legal community, the business community, Philadelphia residents, and public interest organizations to protect and assist vulnerable populations in the aftermath of state and federal policy changes. This critical and essential initiative has convened hundreds of attorneys to support immigrants and those who are at risk of having health care coverage reduced or eliminated. Debbie worked directly with Philadelphia's Mayor and the Office of Immigrant Affairs to have lawyers trained and available to adjust refugee status and naturalization. More than 200 immigrants and refugees in Philadelphia were assisted by the 300 lawyers involved in Take Action PhiIly. The program has since addressed Medicaid threats and is currently working on race and policing issues.

In addition, Debbie has used her leadership at the Bar to defend and support the work of the public interest bar and legal aid nonprofits in Philadelphia. She has personally revitalized pro bono support from the private bar to further those efforts.

It is with pride that the National Conference of Bar Foundations awards Deborah R. Gross the NCBF Excellence Award.