Apogee Awards Honorees: Patrice Paldino

Meet Patrice Paldino of Coast to Coast Legal Aid, an honoree in the Nonprofit category at the 2020 Apogee Awards

Patrice Paldino is the Executive Director of Coast to Coast Legal Aid. Ms. Paldino graduated with honors with a Master’s Degree from the University of Miami; graduated cum laude with a Juris Doctorate degree from New England Law; and graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Science degree from Rutgers University.


Fun fact: I am a big Wonder Woman fan. I fell in love with the resurgence of the character and recently remembered as a child playing with neighborhood friends. We would pretend to be the “Justice League” and I would always play Wonder Woman.

What is your favorite South Florida dining destination? Being a mom of teenagers, I don’t get to dine at very fancy places too often. But, I do love Anthony’s Pizza!

What do you like to do on weekends? This is a hard question. I have absolutely no life-work balance. I am trying to work on that. Being stuck in the house with COVID, the first weekends were spent painting the interior of my house, all by myself. That’s done now so I am trying to find my next assignment. I am not very crafty, but I am actually considering trying to find a craft to keep me busy. That’s a big step for me since I am very much a TYPE A personality and find it hard to slow down.

How do you unwind from a long day at work? Having no life-work balance, I am trying to find ways to unwind. In the last few months, I have started working out on a Peloton bike and at night I have tried some guided meditation.

What is your favorite quote? “Those who stand for nothing, fall for anything.” — Alexander Hamilton

From whom, or what, do you draw inspiration? I draw inspiration from strong women, like my mother. She grew up in New York, in a middle-class Italian home and married her childhood sweetheart. My mother has a good soul, a brilliant mind and a tremendous heart. She made a career for herself by deciding what she wanted to do and she just went out and did it. Unfortunately, the career came to an abrupt end when she was in a car accident that caused her significant physical injuries. Then, in the last few years, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. But, her fighting spirit has never been dimmed. She no longer has cancer and I believe that is because she is truly the strongest woman I know.

What has been the biggest accomplishment of your career? Certainly, my biggest accomplishment is my work with Coast to Coast Legal Aid as their Executive Director.

What has been the most challenging moment in your career and how did you overcome it? The most challenging moment in my career was in my first year of law school. My mother, grandmother, aunt and great aunt were in a major car accident which nearly killed all of them shortly before Christmas. The matriarchs of my family were all severely injured and required years of surgeries, therapy and healing. No one in my family told me about the accident until I came home for Christmas break—they hid it from me so that I would finish my midterm exams without distraction. When I learned of this, I wanted to quit law school and stay home with them. But, my father refused to allow me to do that. He drove me back to the airport and did not come in with me. He would not park the car and give me the chance to not get on the plane. My father (lovingly) kicked me out of the car and said “go back to school; that is your life. You cannot stay here and make your life be the care of your mother. I will do that. I will not you let you give up.” I got out of the car as my father ordered and got on the plane. I obviously finished law school thanks to my father’s insistence that his daughter go on to do great things. So, I thank him for pushing me—but I do not think I will “overcome” the guilt of having left them behind that day.

What advice would you give an up and coming professional? My advice to up and coming professionals is to do what you love. You work so many hours of your day and years of your life to spend it doing something that makes you miserable. Follow your passion.

SFBW Staff
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