OneJustice Blog

Bring life-changing legal help to Californians in need.

Category Archives: Board Governance

Meet our very own financial guru

A chat with Executive Fellowship faculty, Elizabeth Schaffer.

We invited Elizabeth Schaffer—a nonprofit leader, consultant, trainer, and author—to tell us about herself and her work with the OneJustice Executive Fellowship.

Elizabeth is a longtime faculty of the Executive Fellowship. She coaches nonprofit leaders in the process of improving the quality of their organizations’ financial data and analysis, and also assists in enhancing organizations’ decision-making abilities. She is the co-author of Financial Leadership for Nonprofit Executives: Guiding Your Organization to Long Term Success (Fieldstone Alliance Press), a book that we use in our program, and an absolutely essential resource for all nonprofit leaders.

Please join us in welcoming Elizabeth!

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[PHOTO: Elizabeth Schaffer, CFO at the Global Fund for Women and Executive Fellowship faculty.]

Elizabeth Schaffer, Chief Financial & Operating Officer at the Global Fund for Women and faculty of the Executive Fellowship.

Thank you for joining us, Elizabeth! Tell us a little more about yourself and what you do.

I am currently the Chief Financial & Operating Officer of the Global Fund for Women – the largest foundation exclusively funding international women’s rights organizations. I have been involved with nonprofit financial management for over 20 years, as a finance director, consultant, trainer, and author.

We are so happy to have you as an Executive Fellowship faculty. Tell us why you are involved in the Fellowship program.

The fellows cohort is consistently smart, dedicated, and engaged.

I especially love teaching in the program because so many folks introduce themselves by saying: ‘I’m not good at finance,” and then go on to really, really understand the content – and bring it back to their organizations. Without question, my best student is Julia!

As a nonprofit financial management coach, what is your top advice to nonprofits hoping to develop and strengthen their financial leadership?

Trust your instinct, not necessarily the numbers on the paper. If what you have at hand does not seem correct, challenge it!

Amazing advice! Thank you so much, Elizabeth, for your guidance and leadership teachings! 

Have you met this consultant, educator, and philanthropist?

Celebrate Martin Tannenbaum with us

For his incredible work in strengthening the legal services sector

Martin Tannenbaum, consultant, educator, and philanthropist, honoree of this year's Opening Doors to Justice eventEvery year, the OneJustice network gathers at our Opening Doors to Justice event to celebrate three individuals whose outstanding accomplishments have truly moved the needle on legal services, pro bono, and access to justice. Won’t you join us this year on:

Thursday, June 25th 

6-9 pm

Julia Morgan Ballroom (downtown SF)

*Tickets and auction items are now available

We are so pleased to be honoring Martin Tannenbaum – Consultant, Educator, Philanthropist, and a wonderful partner of OneJustice. Martin has been a leader in transforming the civil legal aid system through the development of OneJustice’s Executive Fellowship, which is now in its 5th year, and next month, will graduate the 100th Fellow. Please welcome our third honoree, Martin Tannenbaum!

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Martin, Opening Doors to Justice event is less than a month a way and we can’t wait to honor you on June 25th! Tell us – why are you involved with increasing access to justice?

Even though most people probably think I’m a privileged white male – which I guess, on some level, I am – I have a very different sense of myself. I grew up as a gay Jew in Utah – as a double-outsider. And add to that, my parents also grew up Jewish in Utah.  So I learned at an early age to love and respect those who didn’t fit in – which meant a wide range of people – the economically challenged, the foreigner, and the less-abled.

Also, since I had experienced the tyranny of the majority (both growing up and during some pretty ugly ballot initiatives), it was clear that the courts – not public opinion – were THE place for change and fairness. And so I was naturally drawn to legal organizations because they focus on the judicial system – and they welcomed me in.

Initially, my volunteering and philanthropy focused on LGBT rights. Given what we’ve accomplished in the last 30 years, it was clearly a wise investment. In California and several other states, I am now protected in the workplace and was even able to marry the man of my dreams, Alex Ingersoll. This was all unimaginable when I was in my 20’s.

And there are still many with justice still denied – not just many in the LGBT community, but also those without sufficient financial resources, health challenges or an unclear path to citizenship. The work must continue until every person secures equal justice under the law – it’s what this country was founded upon – it’s what we owe ourselves, our children, and our children’s children.

We couldn’t agree more! Martin, could you share with us how you became involved with OneJustice?

Over 7 years ago, I had the great good luck to meet Claire Solot and Julia Wilson. They had this idea about creating a program for leaders within the legal services sector – one that would provide these leaders with the knowledge, skills and support to enhance their work, stabilize and build their own organizations, and change the legal services sector.  (And I had the background and knowledge to develop the curriculum and guide the program in the early years.)

And so, we built a program together, the OneJustice Executive Fellowship, which next month will graduate its 100th fellow – all able and willing to create meaningful change – to serve more clients and provide better services and to build more sustainable organizations. I have had the distinct honor of meeting and working with each of these Fellows.  Nothing is more rewarding than seeing their growth and accomplishments.  What a gift!

Absolutely! What’s your favorite part of being a member of the OneJustice network?

I know this is hard to imagine, but there are still people – even friends and colleagues of mine – who don’t know about OneJustice and the incredible work that we do to create impactful nonprofits and to enhance the legal services sector. I love to explain our work and watch faces light up.  Most want to learn more, and get involved.  It’s such leveraged, important work.  I’m very proud to be part of the OneJustice family.

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About the OneJustice Executive Fellowship: OneJustice trains current executives and the next generation of nonprofit leaders through our management training program. OneJustice’s Executive Fellowship program is a 10-month comprehensive program that brings legal aid leaders new business skills.

Why we love our board of directors – and you will, too

BoardSource NewsletterA love letter to the OneJustice Board

We’re so excited – and we just can’t hide it!

We’re so excited to share some wonderful news with you — OneJustice was named the grand-prize winner of the 2013 Prudential Awards for Exceptional Nonprofit Boards at the recent BoardSource Leadership Forum (BLF), which took place earlier this month in Los Angeles! And, the award comes with $15,000!

Recognizing and promoting excellence in board service is at the heart of BoardSource’s mission. That’s why BoardSource created the Prudential Leadership Awards for Exceptional Nonprofit Boards, now in their third year. BoardSource announces these awards, in partnership with Prudential, at the annual BoardSource Leadership Forum. The awards are intended to inspire and support new approaches to strengthening and building organizational impact through board leadership.

In conjunction with the theme of BLF, the 2013 award winners exemplify exceptional governance and demonstrate the concept of “Bold Leadership: Taking Risks, Thinking Big” for their organizations in at least one of three areas: structure, fundraising, and governance.

OneJustice is featured in an article in BoardSource’s newsletter “Spark” released today.  (Click here to download the PDF of the article).

And, here’s what the folks at BoardSource had to say about OneJustice in a brochure they distributed at the conference:

The OneJustice Board of Directors

The OneJustice Board of Directors

What do you do when a consultant hired to help your board and new executive director prepare for a strategic planning process tells you that your stakeholders are not aware of your mission and do not consider your organization’s programs relevant to the communities it serves? Do you step back and rethink your plans to plan? The board of OneJustice (then the Public Interest Clearinghouse) took another tack. It decided to move ahead, to fully launch a strategic planning process, seek further stakeholder input, clarify its mission, set its vision, and carefully evaluate every project against a double bottom-line: mission impact and contribution to the organization’s financial health.

Projects that had outlived their relevance were eliminated. In their place rose two core program areas: increasing volunteerism in the legal community and increasing the business skills of nonprofit legal services. Both are directly tied to the organization’s mission of increasing the legal assistance available to poor and other underserved Californians. The board also turned to an issue that had long been under discussion: the confusion caused by its name, Public Interest Clearinghouse. With a communications consulting team supporting its efforts, the board managed a consensus-driven rebranding process that resulted in a new name — OneJustice — representing the organization’s commitment to creating one justice system that works equally for all.

The OneJustice Board doing training by videoconference

The OneJustice Board participating in fundraising training by videoconference.

But the board was not done. Immediately after completing the organizational strategic plan, the board turned its critical eye inward. After completing an in-depth performance assessment and identifying its strengths and weaknesses, it trained in the Governance as Leadership model, created a governance committee, and institutionalized processes related to multi-year recruitment plans, performance evaluation of each board member prior to term renewal, and continuous learning.

As a result of the board’s work over the past six years, OneJustice is now flourishing. The budget has doubled, the revenue model is stable, the organization is responding to stakeholder requests for geographic presence in Southern California, and the board is engaged and focused on mission, excellence, and continued strategic growth. Just over a year ago, the board solicited feedback from the same set of stakeholders as in 2007. The response this time? “One Justice is the glue that holds the California legal services community together.” The 180-degree transformation in the organization’s relevance is due to the board’s leadership.

BoardSource Award 2013

OneJustice Board Chair Max Ochoa with OneJustice staff receiving the award from BoardSource and Prudential at the BoardSource Leadership Forum on November 8th in Los Angeles.             (Photograph by Sarah Fiske)

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