Marcia K. Cypen, the Executive Director of Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. ("LSGMI") has devoted her entire professional career to promoting equal justice under the law.'LSGMI, the largest provider of broad-based civil legal services for the poor in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, has a staff of more than 75, which includes 33 top quality attorneys who address daily Iegal problems and systemic issues each year. LSGMI is what it is today as a direct result of Ms. Cypen's leadership and commitment.
Ms. Cypen has been with LSGMI since June 1974,. She was hired as a law clerk, and upon graduating cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law in 1976, she was hired as a staff attorney. From 1979 through I981, Ms. Cypen was the Manager of the Health and Income Maintenance Unit, after which she was promoted to the Deputy Director. In June 1983, Ms. Cypen was promoted to and has since been the Executive Director of LSGMI.
Under her leadership, LSGMI has grown to be a $7.4 million law firm which is highly regarded in both the state and the nation as a model legal services program. In the words of former Justice of the Florida Supreme Court, Raoul G. Cantero, "Marcia is tireless in seeking ways to fund LSGMI in a dire economic climate, and her hard work has resulted in obtaining close to $1 million in funds for the organization. Through her leadership and direction, the LSGMI has represented countless underprivileged families in receiving free civil legal services in areas like medical benefits, property issues, guardianship and citizenship, to name a few."
As the direct result of Ms. Cypen's vision, LSGMI now owns its main office building, which was purchased through the successful Capital Campaign that she spearheaded. In the words of Third District Court of Appeal Judge Vance Salter, "When [LSGMI was] able to purchase the building in 1997, she herself learned how to be a landlord to the other non-profits invited to become tenants. The result is the Chesterfield Smith Center for Equal Justice, that houses LSGMI's main office and a number of other non-profits providing legal and social services to the poverty community." Not only does Ms. Cypen's business acumen benefit LSGMI, it has also benefited other organizations aiding our community by providing them with affordable office space.
Ms. Cypen has quietly grown and developed LSGMI for more than three decades, without seeking awards or public recognition. Her success has been tremendous and Miami-Dade FAWL is pleased to honor her with the Mattie Belle Davis Award.