A letter from Executive Director Marty Ellin.
This was not the year I ordered from the catalogue — how about you?
After 20 wonderful years, I am retiring from AVLF at the end of this month. I had envisioned a last stretch full of visits to the lawyers, law firms and accounting firms, corporate legal departments, business leaders and many others who have so solidly stood with AVLF for so much of my time here. Maybe an early coffee look-back here, a lunch of reminiscence there, a later afternoon beverage to stroll down memory lane to finish off the day. Well…no. Not for me, not for any of us.
But this is not a letter I write to complain — actually quite the contrary.
The many, many gracious and loving friends I have made through working at AVLF have continued to stand with me and my family in every form possible.
Personally, I feel very fortunate. Everyone in my family has either avoided the virus or recovered from it, my oldest child is about to deliver our first grandchild, and we all are lucky enough to have been able to stay with, or find anew, work that we love. Moreover, the many, many gracious and loving friends I have made through working at AVLF have continued to stand with me and my family in every form possible.
Professionally, I feel more than just fortunate, I am astonished. This year, cultural, health and system challenges that defied the wildest expectations overwhelmed most of us. In response, some groups had to cut back or even fold. But the combined, complementary efforts of my extraordinary AVLF staff colleagues, our fully engaged Board and Leadership Council, our stalwart volunteers, our community partners, and the generosity of the local and national funders and the Atlanta legal community allowed us to stay fully engaged and to honor our mission every single day of 2020. Despite being displaced and even locked out of workstations, courts and schools, our pro bono programs did not miss a beat. Our staff found creative ways to serve clients and train volunteers, our Board leaders jumped in to address every crisis, volunteers continued to pour in to offer counsel by Zoom, and the funders in Atlanta did heroic work, finding emergency grants to allow us to sustain our staffing and best performance.
Despite being displaced and even locked out of workstations, courts and schools, our pro bono programs did not miss a beat.
One place where we did experience particular challenges involved our fundraising. Our Annual Campaign, the source of most of our critically important unrestricted funding, was placed on hold from mid-March to later September, and consequently, we are hundreds of thousands of dollars behind our revenue goals. Therefore, I do ask you to consider a gift to AVLF by the end of the year. Every dollar is needed, every dollar is well spent, and the community just cannot do with less from AVLF and the organizations that are helping to lift them above this crisis. Thank you for thinking of us.
Working at AVLF has been the privilege of my professional life.
On January 1, the extraordinary Michael Lucas becomes the new Executive Director of AVLF. My hope is that you will be as kind to Michael as you have always been to me. Working at AVLF has been the privilege of my professional life. I have always believed that the law is the only thing that has a chance of making people equal, and I will always be grateful beyond easy words that I found a place to work toward that possibility, in a community generously committed to equal access to justice. Thank you, everyone, for your friendship to AVLF and to me, and in the next year and every year after for never turning away from service to our community.
I leave grateful, proud and with the warmest of memories. Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends. See you at the next Winetasting.
Want to read other Letters From Leadership? They are an easy way to find out what drives us here at AVLF. You can find them all here.