On Tuesday, July 15th, current and former members of the LAF Young Professionals Board got together at Revolution Brewing Company for the YPB’s 5th Anniversary Celebration, an evening dedicated to celebrating all of the hard work and advocacy the Board has done on behalf of LAF since first forming in 2009.
A big thank you to Katten Muchin Rosenman for sponsoring this special evening. Katten is a terrific partner in many endeavors with LAF, and has been instrumental in building and supporting the Young Professionals Board.
During the program portion of the evening, YPB 5th Anniversary Chair BeLinda Mathie spoke passionately about why she supports LAF. You can read her full remarks below.
“About this time last year, some of us on the Executive Committee began tossing around the idea of doing something to celebrate our first five years of advocacy on behalf of LAF. The YPB has experienced meteoric growth over the past five years – in 2009 we were a hodge-podge group of 20-odd people that stuck it out long enough to take a freezing boat cruise in September, raising a little over $20,000 that first year for LAF. This year, we are on track to raise more than $125,000 from a membership of more than 85 people hailing from firms and companies all over Chicago. In the meantime, we have deepened our commitment beyond the purely financial. This Board also helps LAF by serving–many of us are involved in pro bono work at LAF, and we have found new ways to raise visibility for LAF within our own networks. We invite colleagues and friends to get involved with us and give back–coming with us to an event, or taking on a case, or even by joining the YPB themselves.
So how did we get here? Back in late 2008, I received a message from Diana White inviting me out for drinks. At the meeting she asked me, point-blank, why someone as young as me had been writing checks to LAF. As a senior associate at a large law firm, I didn’t fit the profile of the “typical LAF donor,” and Diana was intrigued. She wanted to know what prompted my support of LAF—and how she could find other young professionals who felt the same way.
My answer was pretty straightforward. I was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a sparsely populated part of the country where the best-paying job someone with a high school diploma can get is working at the iron ore mines. My high school guidance counselors didn’t spend a lot of time trying to get kids into Ivy League colleges. Instead, their focus was on trying to help the significant percentage of students who were unlikely to go to any sort of college to join the military or maybe get into a trade school program. As for me, I attended the University of Michigan because it offered the best financial aid package. Between in-state tuition, scholarships, grants, work-study, and working two jobs every summer, I was able to graduate from college without significant debt. In other words, I understand firsthand just how hard it is to get by in this country if you do not come from wealth. When I became a lawyer, I vowed to do my part to give back and to do something meaningful for people who are struggling every day to get a fair shake. At first, that took the form of annual donations to LAF for roughly one hour of my billable time—even though I still had law school loans to pay. But after that 2008 meeting with Diana, I got involved in LAF’s effort to identify other people like myself – young people who believed in philanthropy and our professional obligation to make justice accessible to all Americans. Joining the fledgling YPB in 2009 was one of the easiest decisions of my life. I’m so proud that I have met so many people who share these values while serving on the YPB, and to be in this room with you tonight. It’s been an honor building the YPB with you, and working together to do so much good for LAF and its clients.
For some of you, your time on the YPB has come and gone, as the other demands of your life took up the time that you had previously devoted to this Board. And for others, maybe that day is coming. However, regardless of your ability to serve on the YPB itself, there are still several ways for you to continue supporting LAF.
An easy one, of course, is to continue to attend Justice Is Served and the Autumn Affair, the YPB’s semi-annual fundraising events. Another would be to come to LAF’s Annual Luncheon or the Golf Outing. There’s a third option as well. I encourage everyone in this room, right now, to commit to making an annual financial contribution to LAF that is personally significant to you. If, like me, you’re an attorney working at a law firm, consider writing LAF a check for one or more hours of your billable time. You can give this amount in one lump sum, or over the course of the year as you attend events and respond to solicitations like the year-end campaign. Even better, you can sign up for monthly giving, allowing you to give a set amount each month, which in turn provides a reliable, predictable stream of support to LAF.
If you look at the table tents around the room, you’ll find information on LAF’s new monthly giving program. LAF’s External Relations office has launched the monthly giving initiative to make it as easy to donate to LAF as it is to pay a monthly Netflix subscription. We hope you value the work LAF is doing more than what you pay to binge-watch Orange is the New Black, but the concept is the same–set an amount to give to LAF monthly, fill in your credit card info, and the rest takes care of itself.
This five-year mark is a good time to remind everyone here tonight who is no longer on the YPB that you are always welcome at YPB events. We saw tonight, in part, as an opportunity to re-connect with you and bring you back into our fold, if not as members again, then at least as ongoing supporters of LAF’s important work.
Thank you all for joining us tonight, and thank you for the service you have given to the Young Professionals Board over the past five years. Here’s to the next five!”