December 2022 Board Report

Florida Bar Foundation Logo

The Florida Bar Foundation Board of Directors met in Tallahassee on December 16, 2022, at the Florida State University College of Law.  The Foundation is grateful for the college’s gracious hosting of the Foundation’s committee meetings on December 15 and the board’s meeting on December 16.  It also thanks Clinical Professor Darby Kerrigan Scott for her presentation on the college’s civil legal clinics and their various projects that provide invaluable services to children and other people in need.

The Foundation’s meetings were also sponsored by KE Law Group. The Foundation very much appreciates the generosity and support provided by KE Law Group, which allowed the Foundation to save considerable money and expenses associated with the committee and board meetings.  The major actions of the board and reports received included:

Foundation Officers Elected

Pursuant to its Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, the Nominating Committee of the Foundation presented, and the board elected, the following officer nominees for a term beginning July 1, 2023, and concluding June 30, 2024:

President: Murray B. Silverstein

President-elect: Roberto R. Pardo

First Vice President: Ashley N. Sybesma

Second Vice President: Maria Gonzalez

Immediate Past President: Honorable Suzanne Van Wyk

Board approves $840,000 in payments for 2023 Loan Repayment Assistance Program

The Board received a report and recommendation from the Grants Committee for FY 22-23 Loan Repayment Assistant Program payments that recommended funding 167 loan applications in the total amount of $835,000.  In addition to accepting and adopting that recommendation, the board approved one additional loan up to $5,000 conditioned on receipt of an application acceptable to the staff.  If approved, the total outlay for LRAP loans for FY22-23 will be $840,000 with distributions occurring in the Spring and Fall of 2023.

Training Grant Program approved in final

The Grants Committee recommended final approval of a proposed Training Grant Program description.  The committee previously approved the program description in September 2022 and referred it to a drafting committee whose work was approved by the Grants Committee on November 30, 2022.  The Board approved the Training Grant Program description on first reading, voted to suspend the rules (which passed unanimously) and thereafter passed the Training Grant Program description in final.

The purpose of the Foundation’s Training Grant Program is to provide applicants periodic opportunities to obtain funding in support of training qualified legal service providers to better enable them to facilitate or provide services to meet the legal needs of people in Florida.  Grant applications will be accepted on a rolling, as-needed basis and funded on a quarterly basis.

Trainings must be provided by qualified grantee organizations and funds must be used to develop and deliver trainings on topics useful to the Florida civil legal aid community and its collective capacity to provide or facilitate qualified legal services in the following areas:

  • Shelter;
  • Health and Safety:
  • Protective and Corrective Security; and/or
  • Family, Community and Legal Stability.

In reviewing training grant applications, the Foundation will consider several factors, including but not limited to:

  • Clear and specific synopsis or agenda outlining particular training to be offered, intended and expected size of audience, date(s) of training, itemized budget, and well-defined and expected outcomes of training;
  • Trainings should be eligible for CLE credit by The Florida Bar;
  • Training initiatives should focus on specific or emerging issues and topics directly benefitting the Florida civil legal aid community;
  • Training initiatives should not be on basic topics or topics covered under existing courses offered by The Florida Bar or other continuing legal education providers;
  • Collaboration with other providers (including sharing of resources and other materials developed); and
  • Creation of replicable trainings.

Although there are no minimum or maximum amounts established, these grants are designed to be limited in nature and are expected to range from $10,000 to $30,000.

Investment policy amended to include IOTA collections

After nearly a year of deliberation and review, the Investment Committee recommended passage of an amended Foundation Master Investment Policy Statement to include an IOTA Collections Account.  The Board approved the Amended Policy on first reading, voted to suspend the rules (which passed unanimously) and thereafter passed the Amended Policy in final.

The Amended Policy establishes an IOTA Collections Account (IOTA) to invest IOTA collections received by the Foundation pursuant to Rule 5.1-1(g) Interest on Trust Accounts (IOTA) Program, Florida Rules Regulating the Florida Bar (The IOTA Rule). Investments objectives for the IOTA Collections Account will be to preserve the IOTA collections, maintain liquidity and provide income for the benefit of the IOTA Program.

The IOTA account must be invested consistent with the requirements set forth in the IOTA Rule and in a manner that allows for distribution of IOTA funds by the Foundation pursuant to Section 5.1-1(g)(8) of the IOTA Rule. Consequently, the IOTA account must be kept separate from other Foundation investment accounts and be designed in a manner that allows for all IOTA funds collected within a fiscal year to be distributed in no later than 6 months after such fiscal year.  In addition, the IOTA Collections Account has new cash receipts every month and those new cash assets shall be invested at least monthly.

Board approves Gift Administration Policy for all non-IOTA gifts received going forward

A Sustainability Sub-Committee of the Development Committee presented its final draft of a proposed Gift Administration Policy to the Development Committee on December 12The Board had previously approved in concept the Sub-Committee’s report on December 17, 2021.  As such this effort took nearly two years and was shepherded and spearheaded throughout by Director Ashley N. Sybesma with considerable and substantial assistance from Director James Schwarz.   The Grants Committee approved the Policy on December 15 and recommended its approval and adoption, which the Board did at its meeting.

This policy does not apply to IOTA funds collected by the Foundation as Florida’s IOTA Administrator under Bar Rule 5-1.1(g), or in-kind gifts made to the Foundation.  It aims to establish transparent policies and procedures regarding the use of gifts received by the Foundation, address donor interests and contribute to the financial sustainability of the Foundation. Without financial stability, the Foundation cannot fulfill or carry out its mission.  A copy of the Foundation’s Gift Administration Policy is available upon request.

Executive Director Report

Donny MacKenzie’s short report provided directors required annual information related to the Foundation’s updated schedule of insurance coverage and summarized ongoing efforts to transition operations from its current, leased location to the building purchased in July 2022.  He also discussed continued and ongoing efforts related to the amended IOTA rule, including the first general distribution of IOTA funds collected, and efforts to secure proposals for services related to the application and interpretation of direct expenses under the amended rule. He also briefly reported on the status of technology assets transfers as approved by the Board, and reported on staffing and personnel changes, including the sad passing of Lou Ann Powell.

Presentation and Review of Audited Financial Statements

Heather Mosier, a partner with Carr Riggs & Ingram CPAs (CRI) presented the written report and results of CRI’s annual audit of the consolidated financial statements and related statements of activities, cash flows and functional expenses of the Foundation and The Florida Bar Foundation Endowment Trust for the year ended June 30, 2022.  She further stated and opined that such materials present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Foundation and the Endowment Trust in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. The board, after open discussion and thereafter in executive session, approved and accepted the audit report, which is posted on the Foundation’s website and available for review upon written request.

NEXT MEETING

The board’s next scheduled meeting will be on March 10, 2023, at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida. Past President Steve Senn and his law firm, Peterson & Myers, will be hosting the meeting for which the Foundation is most grateful.