SNA Member Renée Lovelace Wins Theresa Award

Renée Lovelace receives the Theresa Award from Robert Russo of the Theresa Alessandra Russo Foundation.

Special Needs Alliance member Renée C. Lovelace is the NAELA Honoree for the 2011 Theresa Award. This recognition is bestowed annually by the Theresa Alessandra Russo Foundation on a NAELA member whose “above and beyond” contributions preserve the dignity, rights, and quality of life of individuals with special needs.

The Theresa Alessandro Russo Foundation also provides a $2,500 grant to an organization, selected by the award recipient, that assists children with special needs. Lovelace has chosen to divide the grant between several Texas-based non-profits that sponsor dance activities: Morgan’s Wonderland, Camp C.A.M.P., Camp John Marc, and The Door in the Wall. “The arts have been hard hit by the economy, yet they represent something that’s missing from so many of our lives,” says Lovelace. “It is a great pleasure to be able to direct this gift to organizations that bring dance activities to children with disabilities.

“So many members of the Special Needs Alliance, NAELA, and other organizations work tirelessly to help individuals with disabilities build fulfilling lives,” she continues. “It’s wonderful to be recognized for community service, but this award is really about honoring all those attorneys out there who are volunteering their time to projects that make a difference.”

Lovelace gravitated to special needs law after her father required long-term care and a family member was diagnosed with a mental illness. “I saw firsthand what working families face when a loved one has a disability. Once the insurance runs out, they’re responsible for medical costs that are out of reach. How do they survive? So began my commitment to public benefits law and special needs planning. At that time–in the late eighties–I was able to find only one other attorney in Texas who had written on the subject.

“I also realized that there was a real need for legal services relating to the employment, housing, and discrimination issues faced by people with disabilities. I collaborated with the Dallas Bar to establish a mental health law clinic that held multiple clinics before being incorporated into another legal services program.”

Lovelace was a member of the core team responsible for establishing the Arc of Texas master pooled trusts and authored a seminal guide for Texas attorneys representing individuals with disabilities and their families. She is committed to providing information to attorneys, caregivers, trustees, and other professionals to promote better care systems for individuals with disabilities.

Her practice, The Lovelace Law Firm, P.C., Dripping Springs, Texas, focuses on special needs planning and elder law. She received a J.D. from The University of Texas, an M.B.A. from The University of Chicago, and a B.A. from Oral Roberts University. She is Certified as an Elder Law Attorney (CELA) by the National Elder Law Foundation.