I think that there is a lot of responsibility to help those who haven’t been as lucky. There’s a point where you have money, time, whatever that makes only a little bit of difference to you, but could mean a great deal to someone else.
Location: Washington, D.C.
What was the first philanthropic gift you ever gave:
The U.N. World Food Program, when I was in high school. I think it was $20 and thought, hey, starving people could use that.
What is your charity of choice and why:
I try to give to a few different organizations, but if I had to pick one, it would be Legal Aid Justice Center (“LAJC”). The LAJC provides civil legal services to lower income people in Virginia, where I grew up and went to law school. It’s vitally important work; many clients are at risk of losing their home, being deported, being kicked out of school or going bankrupt, and have nowhere else to turn.
When I was in law school, LAJC gave me an internship when no one else would. I got to see firsthand how effective the people who work there are helping those who really need it. And because the LAJC does not accept any federal money, they can help clients that a lot of other legal aid organizations cannot, like undocumented immigrants, institutionalized persons and children.
Who inspires you to give:
My mother and father. They taught me the importance of considering others, not just yourself.
What motivates you to give:
I’ve been very, very lucky in my life. Because of that, I think that there is a lot of responsibility to help those who haven’t been as lucky. There’s a point where you have money, time, whatever that makes only a little bit of difference to you, but could mean a great deal to someone else.
How do you give of your time:
As an attorney, I donate my legal services to those people who need it through pro bono work. I’ve been fortunate in that my employer, the law firm of Miller & Chevalier, has been very supportive of this. In the 5 years I’ve been practicing I’ve been able to take a criminal defense case, a few asylum representations and a tax sale case (that’s where someone risks losing their house to a third party buyer as a result of unpaid taxes). One of the tax sale cases I handled was written about here.
It’s great to give back to the community in this way. People are universally grateful for the assistance, and it’s a great way to maintain and sharpen one’s skills as a lawyer too.
Is there a specific story you can share about giving?
When I was an intern at LAJC, they had a plastic kettle for warming up water for tea and so and on. You would fill it with water, plug it in, and then the water would heat up. I decided one day I wanted tea, so I filled the kettle with water and instead of plugging it in . . . put it on the stove. Whoops! The fire alarm went off, the kettle melted to the stove and we had to scrape it off with a fork (thankfully, no one was hurt). I offered to pay for the destroyed kettle, but the LAJC personnel demurred – though I promised that if I ever got a job that paid decently after law school, I’d make donations to the LAJC every year. And that’s what happened!