It’s fitting that senior writer J.F. Pirro’s in-depth profile of indomitable Lower Merion defense attorney Hope Lefeber falls in our October issue. It is, after all, the same month we’re honoring this year’s Women on the Move with our annual cover story and luncheon.
As Pirro learned from his extensive interviews and research for “Defending the Indefensible”, Lefeber is a Power Woman in her own right. “I’m a first-generation child of an immigrant, as Hope is,” says Pirro. “Post-war, first-generation children of immigrants, in my experience, inherit many powerful parental persuasions—chief among them is a steadfast refusal to be taken advantage of. It’s the lesson my father continues to pass on to me, and I can only assume it’s because he was taken advantage of when he arrived here at age 16. The specifics were always taboo in my family, but the lesson lingers.”
Pirro is convinced that it must be the same for Lefeber. How else to explain her tolerance, ferocious sense of fairness, and enormous compassion for the human condition? “She sides with those who’ve been taken advantage of by the most powerful entity of all—the government,” says Pirro. “I had to prod her multiple times to get her to reflect on her parents’ horrific experiences in Nazi Germany. I believe that’s why she refuses to let anyone else be taken advantage of—even if it is a mobster.”
As a young writer of Italian descent, Pirro once seriously considered focusing on the mob as an area of expertise. “Much of that was due to the era—and also to habitually reading one of my writing idols, Mike Mallowe, and his courageous coverage of the mob for years at Philadelphia Magazine,” Pirro says.
Interestingly, Mallowe would go on to become Main Line Today’s first editor. “He was one of the best among what I considered a powerful group of men who seemed to control the media scene in Philadelphia, byline by byline,” says Pirro. “Then they, too, were brought to their knees by a drastically diminished, downsized and drowned-out media presence in this region.”
And if Lefeber is her own sort of Power Woman, it’s because her mother is one, as well. A Holocaust survivor, she’s thrived to the ripe age of 102. “Both are powerful women who also have a soft side—a side that’s full of tolerance,” says Pirro. “Arrogance is a common weakness. Tolerance is rare power.”
We hope you’ll join us on Oct. 26 for the Women on the Move Luncheon at Drexelbrook in Drexel Hill, where we’ll recognize this year’s 23 honorees. The keynote speaker is Maria Arias, vice president of diversity and inclusion at Comcast.
For tickets and more information, click here.