Written by Gregg Kelley

Feb 15


Celebrity Bartender Cocktail Party to Benefit Legal Aid

Gregg Kelley

Gregg Kelley, Director of Development

On Tuesday, February 19th, several movers and shakers in the corporate and legal world here in Washington, D.C. will take their turn behind the bar at P.J. Clarke’s in order to raise money for the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia.  Guests will have an opportunity to learn about Legal Aid, enjoy some expertly poured libations, and tip the celebrity bartenders very generously as 100% of the proceeds from this event will benefit Legal Aid.

Legal Aid is grateful to Marsh USA, Cassidy Turley, Creighton Farms and PwC for coordinating and sponsoring this event, as well as the celebrity bartenders for their time and support.  You can view the invitation and list of bartenders here.

Tickets are available for $50 per person by going online to Celebrity Bartender Cocktail Party Tickets.  The event runs from 5:30 to 8:00 PM at P.J. Clarke’s downtown, 1600 K Street NW.

Dec 05


Legal Aid’s 2012 Annual Report Features Our Clients and Their Stories

Gregg Kelley

Gregg Kelley, Director of Development

Each year Legal Aid publishes its Annual Report in November as part of our end of the year giving campaign.  We are especially proud that, for the second year in a row, the Report beautifully captures our clients through the superb photography of Jonathan Ragle.  Jonathan is a highly-regarded photographer from New York City who graciously volunteers his time, talent and photography despite his incredibly busy schedule.  Jonathan has huge reserves of compassion and patience, and even the most camera-shy of subjects open up to him and walk away from the experience being grateful to have been given the chance to help Legal Aid demonstrate its work.

The people living in poverty Legal Aid serves have stories to tell that at times can be quite shocking and disturbing, but our Annual Report provides them a special opportunity to share their experiences.  The publication takes months to produce with our very limited resources, but the results are always exciting.

In addition to sharing the life-changing work of our lawyers, the Annual Report allows us to recognize law firms, corporations, foundations and individuals who provide support to Legal Aid each year.  Because we are not a federally-funded Legal Services Corporation (LSC) grantee, the support of the legal community is incredibly important and ultimately provides the means for us to continue our programs.

For our 80th anniversary, we launched the 80 for 80 Campaign that set a goal of 80 individuals or couples providing an anniversary gift of $2,500 or above.  In addition to being featured in the Annual Report, you can view the most up to date participant list online.  The report also features our newly launched Making Justice Real Giving Circle for individuals and our Leadership Cabinet for institutional donors.

For a hard-copy of the Annual Report, please contact Gregg Kelley.

Apr 29


Legal Aid Celebrates 80 Years of Making Justice Real at its Servant of Justice Awards Dinner

Gregg Kelley, Director of Development

Thursday evening, Legal Aid celebrated its 80th Anniversary with over 500 supporters, special guests, and dignitaries in attendance – its largest Servant of Justice Awards dinner ever. The event was an enormous success, raising over $850,000 for Legal Aid – funds that will go a long, long way in assisting survivors of domestic violence, veterans seeking life-changing public benefits, families facing eviction, and so many others.

In his remarks, Legal Aid Executive Director Eric Angel reflected on the similarities between the circumstances that led to Legal Aid’s founding 80 years ago – crushing poverty, staggering unemployment, and significant disparities between rich and poor – and the crises that our client community continue to confront today, observing that the organization’s mission is as important as ever.  

The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr., Attorney General of the United States, presented the keynote address. The Attorney General described the fight “not only to restore the essential rights of those who cannot afford representation on their own, but also to ensure the strength and integrity of our nation’s justice system” as “nothing less than a moral imperative.” Citing statistics on the need for civil legal services that he described as “not only shocking” but “unacceptable,” the Attorney General praised Legal Aid for having responded to this challenge “not with despair, but with resolve.” He encouraged those gathered that evening to join Legal Aid and reaffirm their commitment to closing the “justice gap.” 

From left to right: Servant of Justice Award winners Susan M. Hoffman and James vanR. Springer, Klepper Prize winner Jonathan G. Lin, and Legal Aid Executive Director Eric Angel.

Following the Attorney General’s address, Legal Aid honored three individuals. Two giants of the legal profession were recognized with the Servant of Justice Award, Legal Aid’s highest honor. Peter Edelman, Georgetown law professor and Chair of the D.C. Access to Justice Commission, presented the Award to James vanR. Springer, of Legal Aid, and David Stern, Executive Director of Equal Justice Works, presented the Award to Susan M. Hoffman of Crowell & Moring LLP.  Arlene Klepper – who, together with her husband, Skadden partner Marty Klepper, has been a long-time supporter of Legal Aid – presented the Klepper Prize for Volunteer Excellence to Jonathan G. Lin of Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett LLP. All three award recipients inspired the audience with their remarks. 

Debby Baum, Legal Aid’s Board President and a partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, ended the evening on a light note, pointing out that 81st anniversaries are very important as well. She invited everyone to return to Legal Aid’s Servant of Justice Dinner next year, already scheduled for April 18, 2013 at the JW Marriott Hotel.

Sep 23


Legal Aid Featured at Hispanic Bar Association Event

Director of Development

Last night, Legal Aid had the honor of being the featured organization at the Hispanic Bar Association of DC (HBA-DC) happy hour for Hispanic Heritage Month.  The event was a great opportunity for Legal Aid to raise awareness about our work, particularly in the Latino community, and inform HBA-DC members about our volunteer and pro bono opportunities.  The happy hour was also a fundraiser for Legal Aid.  Special thanks to the HBA-DC Board for selecting Legal Aid as the featured organization for the event.  We look forward to continuing to partner with HBA-DC.

Nov 18


Today is National Capital Philanthropy Day

Gregg Kelley, Director of Development

National Capital Philanthropy Day (NCPD) is an annual gathering that celebrates philanthropy in Washington’s metro area.  Produced by the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Washington DC Metro Area Chapter (AFP DC), the luncheon is an opportunity to bring together our community to recognize that the spirit of philanthropy is a common thread that runs throughout a very diverse region.  Today’s sold out event demonstrates that the benevolence of our society has not taken a back seat to the economic pressures that have been so pervasive for the past several years. 

I have the distinct honor to be Co-Chair of NCPD, along with Lisa Harter of the George Washington University Medical Center, for the second year in a row.  We are very excited to announce that a hard working event committee has raised 30% more this year compared to last year’s successful event.  All of the proceeds from NCPD go to support the educational programs of AFP DC, so this event’s impact will provide additional resources to further the cause of philanthropy.

Each year, NCPD honors several people and organizations that have made a significant difference in making the Washington region a better place for everyone by demonstrating outstanding charitable contributions of time and resources.  This year, we will be recognizing the following:

Outstanding Philanthropist – Dr. Jaylee Montague Mead and the late Gilbert Mead
Outstanding Fundraising Professional
– Pam King Sams, CFRE, Children’s Hospital Foundation 
Outstanding Fundraising Volunteer – Rosemary Tran Lauer, Devotion to Children 
Outstanding Diversity Leader – Frankie Blackburn, IMPACT Silver Spring 
Outstanding Corporate Partner – Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Outstanding Foundation Partner – Consumer Health Foundation 

NCPD is a major undertaking and would not be possible without the charitable community’s support.  This year we are fortunate to have eleven co-convening organizations and an amazing group of nonprofit umbrella groups with members across the region who help spread the word about NCPD.  In addition, charitable organizations can participate in the Honor Your Own program which allows them to showcase organizations and people that have made a difference in their ability to continue their missions.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) designates November 15 as Philanthropy Day, and the over 220 chapters globally recognize this special day by holding events during the month that highlight the generosity of their regions.  AFP exists to foster the development and growth of fundraising professionals and the profession, to promote high ethical behavior in the fundraising profession and to preserve and enhance philanthropy and volunteerism.  AFP is unique in that it requires its constituency to sign and follow a Code of Ethics, along with following the guidelines set out in the Donor Bill of Rights.  This year is particularly important as AFP celebrates its 50th Anniversary.

Aug 05


Generous Associates Campaign A Success!

Director of Development

For some, the summer is a time for vacations, time with family, getting outdoors and maybe just working a few extra hours less each week. At Legal Aid, the summer is time for our Generous Associates Campaign, the fundraising campaign run by associates from law firms all across Washington, D.C.

I am happy to announce that after eight weeks of some of the most intense efforts seen to date, the Generous Associates Campaign successfully raised $678,000! Not only did our volunteer fundraisers beat Legal Aid’s budget goal, they exceeded last year’s announced total. Congratulations to all the Firm Coordinators for their efforts, the Co-Chairs for their leadership, and to Michele Roberts of Akin Gump who took on the role of Honorary Chair and provided great inspiration.

Over 50% of the participating firms exceeded their fundraising amounts for 2009, with several setting new records. Competition is a wonderful motivator in the law firm arena, so we always hold a competition for firms by their size category. Check out the final results here.

When the Campaign launched in May, I have to admit that signs pointed to a fundraising campaign that could potentially be less successful than last year’s difficult effort. We had a drop of 20% in the number of firms participating, summer associate programs were reduced or canceled, and associates had additional pressures due to the ever changing legal environment that has been the norm for the past few years.

Despite these challenges, Washington’s legal community rose to the occasion and once again demonstrated that the tenet of justice for all should not be compromised. Generous associates, indeed. And generous partners, counsel, staff attorney, administrative professionals, etc.

Each year I am amazed at what this Campaign accomplishes. Washington’s hard working associates certainly have earned the right to focus more on the joys and distractions that summer can bring. Despite this, scores take on the responsibility of raising money for Legal Aid so that we can continue to make a difference in the lives of those living in poverty in the District.

Jan 04


Many Things For Legal Aid To Be Grateful For

Director of Development

Director of Development


What a year 2009 was! To say it was challenging does very little justice to the hardships people living in poverty have had to face, let alone all the nonprofits that have struggled to make a difference.

At Legal Aid, despite the challenges of a hiring freeze and a budget trimmed to the absolute bare minimum, we do have many things to be grateful for. We are grateful for the support of so many law firms, attorneys, corporations, foundations and others who recognized that, despite hardships of their own, it was important to keep contributing to Legal Aid. Our Leadership Cabinet is a testament to the commitment of our community.

We have the privilege of working with a terrifically engaged and motivated Board of Trustees who recognize that they are integral to the success of Legal Aid, not only in the areas of governance, but also when it comes to securing contributions from their firms, companies, and peers.

We have a staff of committed professionals who work tirelessly to achieve the ideal of Making Justice Real. Doing more with less is a theme that I have seen quite a bit. It has certainly become the reality at Legal Aid. My colleagues are an impressive group who could easily have chosen a different path given their exceptional credentials. It is a pleasure to come to work every day.

Frankly, the goal of nonprofits such as Legal Aid would be to strive for the day when our work would not be necessary. A lofty goal, indeed. I only mention this as I would finally like to say that we are grateful for the clients of Legal Aid, which might seem odd. Despite coming to our offices due to circumstances that are incredibly difficult and at times quite horrific, they continue to show amazing grace and courage. Many are willing to share their stories publically – at our annual Servant of Justice Awards Dinner , through our videos, our Annual Report. They know that providing a real face for our clients can help Legal Aid gather support to keep us moving forward fighting injustice.

I know that I speak for everyone at Legal Aid when I say that I wish everyone a safe and happy New Year!

Nov 20


National Capital Philanthropy Day

Director of Development

Director of Development

Each November, the Association of Fundraising Professionals encourages its chapters to hold an event that celebrates philanthropy in its region. For the Washington, D.C. Metro Area Chapter (AFP/DC), the international association’s third largest chapter, today is National Capital Philanthropy Day (NCPD).ncpd logo

This year, I have the honor to be Co-Chair for NCPD along with Lisa Harter of George Washington University. Together with a leadership committee that has truly given their all, NCPD is a sold out affair. With over 500 people attending the luncheon at the historic Mayflower Hotel, AFP/DC is looking forward to a great event that proves that philanthropy is alive, well and making a huge impact in the Nation’s Capital.

NCPD also allows us to recognize individuals and organizations that are making a tremendous difference in our community. The awardees will be:

• Earl W. Stafford, chairman and CEO of the Stafford Foundation
– Outstanding Philanthropist

• Gail Nordheimer, CFRE, president of Gail Nordheimer Associates
– Outstanding Fundraising Professional

• F. Kevin Reynolds, Regional President of Cardinal Bank, N.A.
– Outstanding Fundraising Volunteer

• PNC Financial Services
– Outstanding Corporate Partner

• The Harman Family Foundation and the Catalogue for Philanthropy
– Outstanding Foundation Partner

• Environmental Support Center
– Outstanding Diversity Leader

Part of the celebration is a program called Honor Your Own. This allows nonprofits to recognize individuals or organizations in a meaningful way.  I am pleased to mention that Legal Aid will be participating in this program this year by honoring Phil and Roberta Horton for their years of support. Phil and Roberta truly signify the highest spirit of philanthropy for our organization.

Oct 08


Legal Aid Celebrates the Success of the Generous Associates Campaign

Director of Development

Director of Development

Legal Aid marked the incredible success of its 2009 Generous Associates Campaign by hosting a breakfast for the Co-Chairs and Coordinators from the various law firms that participated.  The atmosphere was incredibly upbeat as we celebrated the tremendous results of this summer’s campaign that raised over $675,000.



Coordinators (2)
Gregg Kelley with Firm Coordinators (left to right) Dan Suleiman, Julie Hammerman, Derek Bottcher, B.J. Shannon, Howard Wolf-Rodda, Jennifer Ngai, Kevin Willen, Chris Gagne, and Patrick Byrnett



Legal Aid’s Executive Director, Jonathan Smith, gave heartfelt remarks about how important the Generous Associates Campaign is to our ability to serve those living in poverty in the District of Columbia, encouraging everyone to be proud of their efforts.  Legal Aid Board of Trustee and Past-President, Phil Horton of Arnold & Porter LLP, provided an inspirational message to the crowd quoting from Robert Kennedy’s famous address in 1966 at the University of Cape Town, South Africa:

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s Generous Associates Campaign – the Firm Coordinators, the Campaign Co-Chairs, and their colleagues and firms who gave so generously.  This incredible outpouring of support from the legal community never ceases to amaze us each year.  I know that I speak for my colleagues, the board, and most importantly, the clients we serve, when I say we are extremely grateful.

Oct 01


Expansion of Legal Aid’s Consumer Law Program

Jennifer Ngai

Jennifer Ngai

Legal Aid is pleased to announce that Jennifer Ngai joined the organization today as an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Recovery Fellow in our Consumer Law Program. Jen will be working primarily with low-income clients who may be at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure. Prior to Legal Aid, Jen was an associate with the law firm of Kelley Drye & Warren LLP. She also served as one of the firm’s coordinators for Legal Aid’s Generous Associates Campaign for several years.

Jen is one of eight Fellows nationally. The Fellowship was created by a partnership between Equal Justice Works, the Institute for Foreclosure Legal Assistance (IFLA) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to increase legal representation to homeowners at risk of foreclosure. Funding is provided by IFLA and through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

In addition to Jen’s Fellowship, Legal Aid was fortunate to receive a Neighbors in Need Fund grant this September from The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region to support our foreclosure work. Created in 2008, the Neighbors in Need Fund supports safety net organizations that serve vulnerable residents throughout the Washington region who are facing challenges with such basic necessities as food, clothing and shelter.

During our 75th anniversary year in 2007, Legal Aid successfully raised additional funding to start the Consumer Law Program. The program was launched in September 2008 with the addition of Wendy Weinberg as supervising attorney. Wendy came to us with years of legal experience working in consumer protection and public interest law. In addition to foreclosure prevention work, Wendy also assists clients whose homes are at risk due to mortgage fraud.

With Jen on board, Legal Aid will be able to dramatically increase its ability to serve low-income homeowner’s who may be facing homelessness due to foreclosure.