The FFLA Board of Directors met in Winter Park, Fla., on Dec. 8, 2023, at the Winter Park Campus of Valencia College. Prior to the meeting, presentations were made by Silvia McLain, executive director of Seminole County Bar Association Legal Aid Society, and Robert L. Johnson, Jr., executive director of Brevard County Legal Aid. Both presentations focused on the history and work of their respective organizations and the populations they each serve. The board is grateful for Ms. McLain’s and Mr. Johnson’s presentations and the work they and their teams do.
The major actions of the board and reports received included:
FFLA Officers Elected
Pursuant to its Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, the Nominating Committee of FFLA presented, and the board elected, the following officer nominees for a term beginning July 1, 2024, and concluding June 30, 2025:
- President: Roberto R. Pardo
- President-elect: Ashley N. Sybesma
- First Vice President: Maria C. Gonzalez
- Second Vice President: Hon. Hugh A. Carithers, Jr.
- Immediate Past President: Murray B. Silverstein
Report of the Grants Committee
A. Board approves $33,870,910 for FY 2023-24 IOTA Funds Distribution
Grants Committee Chair Maria Gonzalez reported that because it was discovered that data points needed further updating, the Grants Committee met on December 7 to re-review the updated data points and resulting distribution. While the total distribution amount did not change, the individual amounts to the 36 recipient grantees changed resulting in the need for a second recommendation. A motion was made to approve the Grants Committee revised recommendation, which was seconded and passed.
As an aside, these grants are in addition to previous IOTA distributions for CY 23 LRAP loans ($712,162), Children’s Legal Services ($800,900) and Pro Bono Support and Enhancement Grants ($3,687,158). Total IOTA distributions by FFLA for FY 22-23 collections equaled $39,071,130 which is 85.7% of the $45,547,391 in total IOTA collections received by FFLA in FY 22-23.
Lastly, the Grants Committee recommended and the board approved St. Michael’s Legal Center for Women and Children as a qualified grantee organization eligible to receive IOTA funding from FFLA. St. Michael’s Legal Center is in Region Four and was awarded $169,555.
B. $760,393 approved for 2024 Loan Repayment Assistance Program
The board received a report from the Grants Committee for FY 23-24 Loan Repayment Assistant Program payments that recommended funding 154 loan applications in the total amount of $760,393.93. In total, there were 156 applicants with 154 being approved. The average amount of law school student loan debt for these 156 applicants is $152,208. As such, an LRAP ad hoc committee was created by President Silverstein to study and consider whether an increase in the principal loan amount for annual LRAP loans is in order. Retired Justice Peggy A. Quince was appointed as chair.
Work on a proposed IOTA Collections Spending and Reserve Policy continues
IOTA Collections Spending and Reserve Policy Task Force Chair Jim Schwarz reported that work continues on the preparation of a proposed IOTA Collections Spending and Reserve Policy. The policy is intended to provide greater economic stability to FFLA’s qualified grantee organizations and instill a more consistent and predictable IOTA distribution process. It will also modulate spending and provide greater transparency and more notice of expected IOTA distributions from FFLA allowing grantees more time for planning, building infrastructure and budgeting. Mr. Schwarz reported that the task force is working in earnest and anticipates that it will have a proposed policy ready for review and consideration in time for the Executive Committee’s next meeting on January 31, 2024.
Presentation and Review of Audited Financial Statements set for January 31, 2024
Audit Committee Chair Steve Salzer reported that FFLA’s and The Florida Bar Foundation Endowment’s Audited Financial Statements are expected to be completed in time for the Executive Committee’s next meeting on January 31, 2024. Heather Mosier, a partner with Carr Riggs & Ingram CPAs (CRI) was present to answer questions and comment on the proposed schedule for completion.
Executive Director Report
Donny MacKenzie provided a short report that provided directors required annual information related to FFLA’s updated schedule of insurance coverage and briefly reviewed FFLA’s Housewarming event the previous evening. He reported the event was a wonderful affair with approximately 75 people touring FFLA’s new offices, the unveiling of FFLA signage, the dedication of a Legacy Garden with commemorative bricks and the ceremonial planting of a tree in honor of the late Alan B. Bookman, former Florida Bar president and beloved husband of Connie Bookman, former president of The Florida Bar Foundation. In addition, the Housewarming event included the playing of a Public Service Announcement prepared by Gary Yordon of Zachary Productions for FFLA. The PSA was replayed at the Board meeting and can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7d5ssGt7DY. Mr. MacKenzie then yielded the floor to Jessica Brown, FFLA’s Communications Director, who provided an overview of FFLA’s name and brand standards.
The Board’s next scheduled meeting will be on March 22, 2024, in Tampa, Fla. Former Medal of Honor Winner Hon. E.J. Salcines Jr. is hosting and coordinating the event, to be held at Stetson Law School, for which FFLA is most grateful.