A fierce advocate for bringing affordable legal services to Maine’s poor, has died of cancer.
Nan Heald, who was highlighted in 2011 as a Champion of Change by the White House, was executive director of Pine Tree Legal Assistance (PTLA) until her death at home yesterday (January 20), surrounded by family and friend.
In a statement, PTLA said, “Nan was a great many things to a great many people – a loving wife and mother, a fearless leader, a strong advocate, a mentor, a friend.
”Nan will be missed. She has made a tremendous difference in countless lives and has changed this world for the better. Most importantly, Nan cared. Her long, accomplished career comes down to one thing – helping people. Her many skills were means to that end. I don’t think the awards she won meant as much to her as the victories of Pine Tree clients who had nowhere else to turn. She was a joy and an inspiration to work with, and we will be guided by her example.
“She will be remembered as a legendary figure who fought for decades to ensure that state and federal laws affecting poor people were upheld and to address systemic barriers to justice.
”Nan was a passionate, innovative, and dedicated legal aid champion and an inspiration to leaders in the legal services community across the country.”
Nan became executive director of the organization in 1990, at the age of 34. At that time it had an annual budget of $2.8 million. In 2021, Pine Tree Legal Assistance’s budget is over $7 million.
Nan served on the national Legal Services Corporation (LSC) Eviction Task Force, the LSC Veterans Task Force, and the Advisory Committee of Providers to Maine's Justice Action Group. She has also served on the national LSC Task Force on Pro Bono, the Maine Judicial Branch’s Advisory Committee on Fees, and the ABA Veterans Legal Services Commission.