Tuesday night at the Edison Ballroom, the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem presented former Mayor David Dinkins with the Distinguished Service Award for his enduring pursuit of social justice. Judge Eduardo Padro received the Special Recognition Award for his distinguished service to the youth of Harlem. Susan Burton received the W. Haywood Burns Humanitarian Award for her remarkable work helping women and girls break the cycle of entrapment in the criminal justice system.

For 25 years, NDS, which serves upper Manhattan, has been known for its innovative, community-based, holistic public defense practice. NDS clients are represented by a team that includes criminal, civil and pro bono attorneys, social workers, investigators and paralegals. In 2015, NDS greatly expanded its offices and staff to better assist its current clients and to broaden its ability to help new clients. NDS now serves more than 10,000 individuals and families annually.

Proceeds from the benefit provide revenue for NDS’s Civil Defense Practice for adults and youth; the Immigration Services Project, a dynamic program established to ensure access to justice for non-citizen clients; the Housing Defense Practice, which represents clients facing the painful collateral consequences of a threat of eviction; the Family Defense Practice, which handles family law issues, including custody/visitation, family court orders of protection and termination of parental rights; and the Youth Law Project, which represents kids ages 7 through 18 in the criminal justice and school suspension system.