As I write this, I am halfway through my term as the Foundation’s president. The past six months have passed quickly, and I’ve had the pleasure of working with our illustrious board and dedicated staff diligently on several matters. This has been an exciting time, and I am pleased to report on the following:
The Foundation’s new executive director, Donny MacKenzie, is off to a spectacular start. Donny and staff are working tirelessly on several things that will enhance the Foundation’s operations and processes and increase revenues and public awareness. Our brand new Community Champions program has gotten off to a promising start and has resulted in a substantial amount of increased revenue for IOTA grants. This will allow the Foundation to fund more programs and initiatives resulting in more access to justice for more people.
Also, pro bono program evaluations and our Florida Pro Bono Law School Challenge are underway. The Challenge has gotten off to a great start and will undoubtedly result in more pro bono opportunities for lawyers and students and, most importantly, more pro bono representation for more Floridians in need. Work has also begun on a spending and reserve policy; Florida’s prior reserves served as an example nationally. We have also created a limited matching funds grants program and a building search committee.
In addition, the Foundation began working with Spark Policy Institute last year to create metrics to evaluate the effectiveness and the impact of the Strategic Reset. The Foundation’s board reviewed and approved 11 metrics at our December meeting. The metrics include the amount of funding leveraged, the number and ways in which people are trained, the number and types of materials developed and shared, the number and percent of grantees, legal aid providers, and pro bono providers adopting best practices or shared standards of practice, the number of clients using self-help resources or accessing low-cost representation and economic benefits received by clients. We will now work to implement strategies for measuring and evaluating these metrics going forward.
Lastly, we remember with fondness and thanksgiving William A. Van Nortwick Jr., who served as the Foundation’s president in 1993-94. Judge Van Nortwick was truly a champion for the cause of equal justice and a cherished and revered member of our Foundation family. The impact he had on the legal aid delivery system is immeasurable and the number of people whose lives were made better by his efforts are countless. We will miss him dearly, and we keep in our thoughts his beloved wife, and my friend, Maria, who is also an invaluable member of the Foundation family and, to date, the only non-lawyer president of our board.