One problem for any bar foundation is keeping younger members interested in participating on the board, to ensure that it can continue to thrive in succeeding generations. At the Orange County (Calif.) Bar Foundation, they solved that problem by creating a second “junior” board, composed of younger attorneys.
“By bringing in these young professionals, they get mentored by the ‘big board,’” said Karen Ruan, the foundation’s executive director. “They learn how to be on the board of a nonprofit, and learn how to raise funds. They network with board members who tend to be more established in their law firms, and they get a chance to perform community and volunteer work.”
Ruan spoke at a National Conference of Bar Foundations 2017 Annual Meeting program called “Better Practices for Your Board: How to Succeed by Really Trying.”
The governing OCBF board has 40 members, while the associate board has 34. The associate board was started five years ago, to provide a place for “socially conscious, motivated young professionals in their 20s and 30s” to find a place to put their ideals into practice, and in the process learn about how boards work and get accustomed to being a part of the OCBF, Ruan said.
The foundation, which funds its own programs rather than issuing grants, puts the young board members into programs where they can work with low-income students and other such clients, and gain useful experience.
“We offer them opportunities to volunteer. They are making a difference in their community, and they like it,” Ruan said, adding that she expects that some of the younger members will eventually become members of the governing board. “They will stay with you over time.”