Alecia Anderson came into one of her favorite service opportunities just by showing up. Through her volunteering as a guardian ad-litem, she came upon another opportunity that spoke to her. A few years ago, executive directors of the nonprofit organization Ampersand Families came and spoke to a group of guardians ad-litem. Anderson was intrigued, and she now serves on the board. She has become an advocate for the organization, which helps older youth in the foster care system find permanent homes.
Anderson described the problems facing the often overlooked demographic. She mentioned that about 1000 older youth in Minnesota are in the permanency stage at any one time. “These kids need permanent homes, but we as a society can't seem to find homes for them,” she said.
Anderson’s day job at Wells Fargo is vastly different than most of her volunteer work and she doesn’t mind using two different aspects of her law degree in work and giving back. She would advise others to step out of their comfort zone when volunteering. “A lot of times you have skills and aren't necessarily sure how that would apply to some posting that you find. But if you reach out to some executive directors at small nonprofit organizations they will know best how to utilize you,” she said.
Anderson’s work with Ampersand Families is only one of her many roles with various local nonprofits. She also currently serves as treasurer of the Hennepin County Bar Foundation (HCBF).
After graduating law school, Anderson wanted more ways to connect with the local legal community. She was able to do that, and support different organizations, through her volunteering with the HCBF. “When I was looking at the grantees of the HCBF, there were a lot of organizations that I really respected and supported anyway, so I thought this was a really good way to support the organizations that I knew were doing work in our community and also get more involved in our legal community in general,” she said.
Anderson's favorite part of foundation work is helping determine the grantees, “I think that's always the most fun part of the year," she said. “It's a really difficult day because you really have to narrow it down and say no a lot, but just knowing that these organizations are out there doing good and continuing to strive for that access to justice piece. That's really rewarding.”
What’s her advice to new lawyers looking to give back? Be sure to pay attention. “Take advantage of opportunities as they come. Just because professionally you can't pursue some passions doesn't mean that you can't find other ways. There's always going to be opportunities to find ways to develop your passions, whether that be through volunteer work or through board work or just giving money or your time,” said Anderson.