New York City Bar Association building New York City Bar Association. Photo: Monika Kozak/ALM

Liberty Aldrich, managing director for the Center for Court Innovation, Angela Britton, supervising court attorney for the New York City Family Court Volunteer Attorney Program, and retired Family Court Judge Paula Hepner will receive this year’s New York City Bar Association awards for excellence in service to the Family Court, the bar association has announced.

Named the “Kathryn A. McDonald Awards” after the highly regarded supervising judge of the New York City Family Court from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, the honors will go to this year’s recipients at a bar association reception scheduled for 6 p.m. May 22.

Aldrich is managing director and general counsel of the Center for Court Innovation, which describes itself on its website as seeking “to help create a more effective and humane justice system.” The website also says that the center “creates operating programs to test new ideas and solve problems, performs original research to determine what works (and what doesn’t), and provides expert assistance to justice reformers around the world.”

According to Aldrich’s biography on the website, she helps work on forming the group’s “strategic direction, program planning and administration, development, strategic partnerships and communications.”

She also “oversees the domestic violence, trafficking and family court programs and the center’s work on access to justice,” the biography notes.

Britton is supervising court attorney for the New York City Family Court Volunteer Attorney Program. The program, according to a website page from the State of New York Unified Court System, “provides brief legal consultations to unrepresented litigants who come to Family Court on matters involving child support, paternity, custody, visitation and orders of protection.”

“Since the program was launched in November 2006, it has already helped more than 15,000 families,” the website states, adding, “the time commitment required of each individual attorney is modest but the impact is great.”

Hepner is a former Family Court judge for New York state who served as the supervising judge for the Kings County Family Court from 2008 to 2012 and for the Richmond County Family Court from 2008 to 2010, according to a web page from the State of New York Unified Court System.

The award is sponsored by the bar association’s Committees on Children and the Law; Family Court and Family Law; Juvenile Justice; Domestic Violence; and its Council on Children, the news release noted.

Catherine Favorite, a bar association spokeswoman, said that the award has been given out annually since 1998, and in 2017 it began honoring three recipients a year, rather than two a year as before.

She noted that the awards are based on several criteria: length of family court experience, initiatives undertaken, advocacy, service to litigants, and commitment to benefiting children and families.