Olender Foundation Honors Washington Informer Publisher

12/15/2011, 12:34 p.m.
Washington Informer Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes is the 2012 recipient of the Olender Foundation's Generous...

Olender counts a number of lawyers and others as mentors but attributed much of who he has become as a person to his parents.

"My parents influenced me totally as a person," he said. "My father taught me the work ethic. He came to this country in the last century, with nothing, from a place considered a part of Russia and Poland. He worked his way up to produce fruits and vegetables. I worked there as a child and while growing up, and I also learned charity. He had me write checks for various charities in the form of solicitations and checks. He did this so I could learn what it means to give."

"Mom was so kind-hearted, always helping people."

Olender has become closely identified with the black community over the years and has amassed a formidable body of work in his profession and his charitable giving that has directly and indirectly affected and benefited African Americans.

"I attribute it to my upbringing. I tried to do things with and for people," he said. "I have seen a lot of discrimination. My law firm is probably one-of-a-kind in terms of diversity. I have African American lawyers (on staff) and they used to be the majority."

Olender, who has been married to wife Lovell, for almost 50 years, said he continues to give back and envisions staying involved in his work and other endeavors for the foreseeable future.

"I'm putting in longer days at this than most people do and there's much more to do," he said.