OneJustice Blog

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Tag Archives: Executive Fellowship

My heroes are the unsung participants of social justice movements

Join us as we celebrate Chris Schneider at this year’s Opening Doors to Justice event!

We can’t believe it’s already May! This month, we’re excited to introduce you to both of this year’s Opening Doors to Justice event honorees, Chris Schneider and Suk Lee! Each year, the OneJustice network comes together to honor individuals who have brought help, hope, and justice to Californians in need, and who are committed to advancing access to justice.

We asked Chris to tell us more about himself and his work over the past few years. We’re honored to recognize Chris for his efforts to increase legal services in the Central Valley. Please join us in welcoming our first honoree, Chris!


IMAGE: 2016 Opening Doors to Justice Honoree: Chris Schneider, Fresno Attorney & former Executive Director at Central California Legal Services, Inc.

Thank you for joining us today, Chris! Tell us, what does “justice” mean to you?

Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of justice as love in action. I view the social justice movements that I have been privileged to work with, both inside and outside of legal services, to be just that.

We couldn’t agree more, and that’s also one of our favorite quotes! Why have you committed your time increasing access to civil legal services?

On my parents’ 19th wedding anniversary, they lost their home to the bank. At age ten, I learned how the law too often works against hard working, low-income families, especially if they don’t have access to an attorney to help them. My eight brothers and sisters and I were taken in by friends and relatives while my parents struggled mightily over the next few months to find a new home and eventually reunite the family. By pure coincidence, 20 years to the day after our family became homeless, I was sworn in as an attorney. In my comments at the swearing in ceremony, I told my parents that obviously I could not do anything about what happened to them twenty years earlier, but I promised to them, and all my colleagues there from the United Farm Workers, that I would fight like hell when I saw injustices heaped upon my clients.

Before coming to work in a legal services program, I was generally aware of the insufficiency of resources for legal aid programs. My work at California Rural Legal Assistance and Central California Legal Services (CCLS) made me woefully cognizant of how great that insufficiency is, especially in rural areas.  As a result, injustice runs rampant as employers, slumlords, and others take advantage of people knowing that the likelihood of them being able to find an attorney is minimal. Undocumented individuals are especially vulnerable in areas where the only legal aid programs have federal funding restrictions which prevent them from assisting.

Access to civil legal services is an important, and often, essential tool for disenfranchised individuals and communities. But due to the lack of resources, increasingly more and more families facing homelessness, women and children seeking to escape family violence, elders enduring abuse, people wrongfully denied health coverage by their insurers, children improperly expelled from school and at risk of being swallowed up into the prison pipeline, communities seeking basic services like safe drinking water, workers who have been robbed of their wages, in short, the most vulnerable in our society, are denied their day in court or go to court unrepresented, because legal services programs are overwhelmed.

Your journey is truly inspiring! Can you tell us about one particularly rewarding experience you’ve encountered over the years?

Choosing just one is extremely difficult. Over the decades, I have had the good fortune to witness numerous important victories for our client communities. In March of 2000, CCLS issued a study entitled “Suffering in the Pastures of Plenty: Experiences of H-2A Sheepherders in California’s Central Valley.” The report exposed how sheepherders were exempt from federal and state protective labor laws, thereby making this treatment legal.

Worse, the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL), through improperly implemented regulations, sanctioned many of the deplorable conditions and set the wages. Media reporting on the study caught the attention of many. Within a year, even with tremendous opposition from powerful agribusiness organizations, California passed the first protective labor law legislation for sheepherders anywhere in the United States and significantly increased their wages. Other legal aid organizations across the country began to take on the issue. Late last year, the improperly implemented DoL regulations were finally replaced and sheepherders nationwide gained wage increases and some minimal protections. There is still far to go, however.

IMAGE: Chris with fellow Executive Fellows at one of their sessions in 2012.

Chris with fellow Executive Fellows at one of their sessions in 2012.

Wow, sounds like a significant win! Can you now tell us how you became involved with OneJustice?

Shortly after I began at CCLS, I had the opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors of the Legal Aid Association of California (LAAC). At that time, LAAC was staffed by the then Executive Director of the Public Interest Clearinghouse (PIC), Nancy Strohl. PIC was the predecessor organization to OneJustice. I worked with PIC and OneJustice on numerous projects over the years and was lucky enough to be selected to participate in the Executive Fellowship Program in 2012.

And finally, who is your favorite social justice hero, and why?

While I am inspired by the strategies, tactics, commitment, and vision of well-known leaders such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Cesar Chavez, my favorite social justice heroes are those who, for the most part, are not named in the history books or not known much beyond their own families and friends. My heroes are the unsung participants of social justice movements who overcame fear and took great personal risks: the Indian Salt March participants beaten by the police; the men and women of Montgomery who walked to and from work, no matter how tired they were; students hosed down when they marched; farm workers who left their jobs and traveled across the country to urge consumers to boycott grapes and lettuce. Without tens of thousands of people who have been willing to take such risks, Gandhi, King and Chavez and so many others hailed for their leadership would be unknown.

Thank you so much for your time, Chris! We can’t wait to celebrate you on June 23rd!

Folks, if you haven’t already done so, mark your calendars today:

2016 Opening Doors to Justice Newsletter Image2

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! 

Announcing the 2015-2016 Executive Fellows!

Empowering leaders to transform the legal services sector.

As schools get ready for the school year, OneJustice is getting ready for the newest class of Executive Fellows. We invited Director of the Healthy Nonprofits Program, Kim Irish, to give us a sneak peak into this year’s class and what is ahead.

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Guest Blogger: Kim Irish, OneJustice Healthy Nonprofits Program Director

It hardly seems possible, but in September, OneJustice will welcome its 6th class of Executive Fellows! The 2015-2016 cohort promises to be outstanding, with 20 participants hailing from a wide variety of organizations located in cities like San Diego, San Bernardino, East Palo Alto, Fresno, and Berkeley. We’re excited to have representatives from 18 organizations, including 5 organizations who are joining us for the very first time.

[Photo: 2014-15 Cohort during one of their many Executive Fellowship classes, which include becoming a great communicator, human resources, financial context and ratios, and budgeting and change management.]

2014-15 Cohort during one of their many Executive Fellowship classes, which include becoming a great communicator, human resources, financial context and ratios, budgeting, and change management.

This year’s curriculum is divided into three core modules, starting with “You As A Leader,” which focuses on Fellows’ personal leadership and communication styles, as well as their relationship with their organization’s board of directors. Module Two – or “Managing Resources” – teaches Fellows how to manage and leverage human and financial resources, including the always-important and sometimes-confusing skill of budgeting.

The third and final module, “Creating Change,” encourages Fellows to take a broader view than their everyday work and think about how they can make changes in their organizations and even the broader legal services or nonprofit sector. A special learning opportunity called the capstone project is woven throughout the fellowship year. Fellows each choose an issue they are grappling with at their organizations and work to define the problem, gather data, research potential solutions, and present a memo and oral presentation to end the fellowship year in June. Though Fellows have reported it can be hairy at times to balance the capstone work with the everyday demands of their jobs, some claim it is the most beneficial part of the Fellowship experience.

As I begin directing the 2015-2016 Fellowship Program, I know I will reflect on my experience as a Fellow in the most recent class. Understanding what it’s like to go through the learning, camaraderie, and professional skills development that takes place during the Fellowship will hopefully help me to provide support that current Fellows may need as they embark on this new adventure.

Welcome new Executive Fellows!

The OneJustice Executive Fellowship is a 10-month comprehensive program that brings legal aid leaders new business and leadership skills.

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As Director of OneJustice’s Healthy Nonprofits Program, Kim Irish is responsible for directing the Executive Fellowship and developing continuing education programs for Alumni of the Executive Fellowship Program, including in-person trainings and other support. She also oversees OneJustice’s consulting work and provides training, resources, and coaching to the Board of Directors and Executives of legal services nonprofits on governance, fundraising, and strategic planning.

How a hiker and a dancer got into Justice

OneJustice welcomes new staff: Part 2.

Welcome back! This month, we are featuring a two part series to introduce our new staff: two last week and two this week. Please join us in welcoming our other two newbies: Sandra Hernandez, Pro Bono Program Associate, and Katherine Pluymert, Healthy Nonprofits Program Associate. We are so excited to embark on this adventure with them, and would like to introduce them to you too!

Please welcome Sandra and Katie!

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Photo: Sandra Hernandez, Pro Bono Program Associate

Sandra Hernandez, Pro Bono Program Associate.

Sandra, what drew you to the work of OneJustice?  

I was born and raised in a rural part of California, and I witnessed first hand how difficult it was to access basic legal help. When I heard about OneJustice and their commitment to making legal help accessible to  communities like the one I was raised in, I knew I had to be part of this amazing team.

What will you be responsible for at the organization – and what do you hope to achieve?

As the Program Associate for the Pro Bono Justice Program, I will be responsible for supporting and coordinating many aspects of the Law School Pro Bono Project, Rural Justice Collaborative, and Justice Bus programs. I am also very excited to be working on the upcoming Statewide Conference in 2016. In the future, I hope to help the Law School Pro Bono Project grow so that many more students have the opportunity to be directly involved in making a difference in California.

We can’t wait to hear about the upcoming conference! Now tell us, what did you do before coming to OneJustice?

After graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a degree in Theater Directing, I pursued my developing passion for community engagement. I worked at a nonprofit organization where I focused on outreach and helping families access resources and basic life necessities.  Through this work, I began to see the necessity for free legal help for underserved communities. Soon after, I began to seek opportunities in legal services to be able to make a direct impact.

And what is something quirky about you?  

One of my hobbies is hiking. Not the kind of hiking that you have to wear special shoes or carry around ropes and walking sticks for, but I do enjoy a moderate hike/climb. I find it is a very relaxing and rewarding activity!

Photo: Katherine Pluymert, Healthy Nonprofits Program Associate.

Katherine Pluymert, Healthy Nonprofits Program Associate.

Thank you, Sandra! Hello Katie! Tell us, why work with nonprofits and in particular, OneJustice?   

I really love the nonprofit sector, and I care deeply about providing essential services like legal assistance to people in need. But I think that a successful nonprofit is mindful not only of the services it provides, but also of the way that the organization functions as a whole.  It’s a huge blessing to work at a place like OneJustice, which helps train attorneys, executives, and entire organizations in best practice. It’s all the little things put together that make a nonprofit great. And a nonprofit functioning at its fullest potential can provide the best services to people who really need it! I feel really lucky to have the opportunity to be a part of the amazing work that OneJustice is doing.

What will you be doing at OneJustice?

I’ll be helping out by providing program assistance for the Executive Fellowship program, which helps train legal service nonprofit executives in a holistic set of skills like effective fundraising, communications, strategic planning, and board development. I’m also providing support for various consulting projects, and I will be coordinating PI/PS Day, which connects law students from several Bay Area law schools with public interest/public sector groups for their summer clerkships. I hope that the work I do will help support legal service nonprofits and law students, so that they can provide legal justice for all.

What did you do before coming to OneJustice?

I recently graduated from Westmont College in Santa Barbara with a B.A. in Sociology. One of the most formative experiences of my undergrad was a full-time summer internship with the St. Anthony Foundation in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, where I worked to provide homeless and low-income individuals with food, clothing and basic computer skills. It was through that experience—and others like it—where I discovered my love for nonprofits and the tangible impact that they can have on the lives of people in need.

Sounds like amazing work! Tell us something else about yourself!

I just finished up my tenure as Editor-in-Chief of the student newspaper at my college, so if you need a catchy headline, I’m your person! I also used to be a competitive tap dancer and dance teacher.

Welcome Sandra and Katie! Thank you for joining us!

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.

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