SHORT HISTORY OF THE dLCV FOUNDATION
The VOPA Board discussed need to establish a separate tax exempt entity for the purpose of fund raising. The funds raised would be used to support protection and advocacy needs of Virginians with disabilities that could be met by VOPA staff if additional funding, not tied to federal grants, was available. The VOPA Board was advised of an opportunity to “take over” an existing separate tax exempt entity that had a compatible original purpose related to legal advocacy for Virginia students with disabilities. This option would be much simpler than establishing a new corporation with the State Corporation Commission (SCC) and then applying for tax exempt status from the IRS. This separate entity was named the Center for Special Education Advocacy. The VOPA Board decided to move forward with determining if this approach was feasible. After suitable due diligence was completed, the VOPA Board decided to move forward, the CSEA Board concurred, and the name chosen for the new entity was the Virginia Disability Law and Advocacy Fund (VDLAF).
All the necessary paperwork to “restate” CSEA as the VDLAF (Articles of Restatement, Amended Articles of Incorporation, and Bylaws) were completed and approved. The SCC issued the official Certificate of Restatement on 6/22/11. CSEA’s former President, and the then Vice Chair of the VOPA Board, Darrel Tillar Mason, was the founding single Board member of the VDLAF. According to the original Articles of Incorporation for the VDLAF, VDLAF Board members were appointed by the VOPA governing Board. VDLAF Board recommended that the VOPA Board Chair be added as an ex officio member. The VOPA Governing Board approved Bill Fuller, the then VOPA Board Chair, as an ex officio member and he became the second member of the VDLAF Board. The VDLAF Board discussed developing a special education manual as initial Fund project. Mason and Fuller established a banking account at Village Bank and CSEA transferred approximately $7,500 from CSEA to VDLAF account to be used primarily for the proposed special education manual and training.
Early in the year, VOPA Governing Board approved Mary Jane Suffocal and William Hurd, Esq. as Board Members. The VOPA Board voted to disband its Resource Development Committee and authorized use of $20,000 for events relating to a planned combination fundraiser/VOPA 10th anniversary gala celebration event. The VDLAF Board finalized two Memoranda of Understanding between VOPA & VDLAF — one dealing with general working arrangements between the two entities and one dealing with the 2012 Celebration Event. Dr. Harry Gewanter and Professor Adrienne Volenik were approved by the VOPA Governing Board as additional VDLAF Board Members. VDLAF and VOPA worked together on planning the Gala which was held on October 2 at Virginia Historical Society. VOPA’s 10th anniversary was celebrated, the VDLAF was introduced and the Special Education Campaign was featured. Approximately $8,000 was raised for the Educating Our Kids Campaign.
Katherine Matthews, Ph.D. was added to the VDLAF Board in January. For several meetings, the VDLAF Board concentrated on Board Development, identifying skills needed and individual board member responsibilities. Prior to the VOPA Board’s summer meeting, the VDLAF Board worked on proposed revisions of the VDLAF Bylaws to have the Bylaws conform to the actual operating practice of the Board and to fill in details not addressed in the original Bylaws. These proposed changes were reviewed and endorsed by the VOPA Board at its July meeting. At this same meeting, Michelle Burke, Esq. and John Craddock, Esq. were approved by the VOPA Board as the final “initial” VDLAF Board members. One important change made in the Bylaws was that going forward, the VDLAF Board would elect its own new members. The revised Bylaws also recognized that the VDLAF’s support would be directed to the disAbility Law Center of Virginia (dLCV) as soon as that corporation was legally designated Virginia’s Protection & Advocacy Agency (being the successor to VOPA.) In August, VDLAF participated in a “Top of the Morning” meet/greet/share held at the VOPA offices to acquaint other disability advocates with the work of VOPA and the existence of the VDLAF. Also in August, VOPA staff piloted an abbreviated version of the draft “Special Education Basic Training Manual” in a training session with a small selected group of parents. The effort was well received. The designation of dLCV to replace VOPA was official on October 1, 2013. Also as of October 1 the first officers of the VDLAF elected by the VDLAF were approved: Darrel Mason, President; Adrienne Volenik, Vice President; Mary Jane Sufficool, Secretary; and Kathy Matthews, Treasurer. Early in October, the first Annual Report of the VDLAF was transmitted to the dLCV Board consistent with our new Bylaws. At the final VDLAF Board meeting of the year, held in late October, discussion began related to changing the name of the VDLAF to a name much more closely aligned with the dLCV. At this same meeting, plans were developed for the first VDLAF Board retreat/planning meeting to be held in January. During the last quarter of 2013, significant groundwork was being laid for the second Gala celebration to be held in March. In early November, the VDLAF Board was invited to an Open House at the dLCV office with an opportunity to meet with the dLCV Board and dLCV staff.
The VDLAF planning Board meeting in January was facilitated by Dr. Fred Orelove. The discussion focused on the issues of identity, accountability, and organizational goals. The Board reached a consensus on the earlier raised issue of more closely aligning the name of the corporation with that of the dLCV. The Board President was authorized to move forward with determining if renaming the VDLAF the dLCV Foundation was legally permissible, and if so, handling the necessary paperwork with the State Corporation Commission. There also was consensus on the need to have procedures in place to assure that past and future donors could be assured that suitable financial accountability measures were in place. The discussion of organizational goals raised the question of who should take the lead in identifying which areas of unmet needs would become the focus of the next fundraising campaign. In terms of the inaugural campaign, Educating Our Kids, two additional “dry run” reduced-time seminars piloting the revised draft Special Education manual were presented by the dLCV in the first quarter–one for dLCV staff, and one for University of Richmond law students. In March the VDLAF Board considered ways to market the manual. Lauren Fisher, Esq. was approved by the VDLAF as a Board member, the first appointment under the new Bylaws. On March 20 the dLCV hosted a second Gala, this time at the Ginter Botanical Gardens with a Season of Change theme. Sponsors and guests heard moving stories from past and present clients of VOPA/dLCV and learned that the VDLAF was about to change its name (in keeping with the theme.) Official SCC approval of the name change to the dLCV Foundation was received April 9, 2014. The May Foundation meeting was intended to focus on goal setting for the year which prompted the revisiting of the idea of whether the dLCV or the Foundation should identify the next campaign focus and other specific goals for fundraising. The consensus was that the dLCV should take the lead and the dLCV Executive Director was asked to have that discussion with the dLCV Board and report back to the Foundation in July. Also at the May meeting, the question was raised as to whether it is necessary to have a separate fundraising entity (i.e. the Foundation) now that the dLCV itself is a tax-exempt organization, or could the same purpose be accomplished by a fundraising committee of the dLCV. The main reasons not to move in that direction are that maintaining two distinct entities ensures the separation of functions (policy/programs vs. fundraising) and avoids any question that federal dollars are being spent in fundraising efforts. Additionally, it was felt that having a separate Foundation Board allows for more individuals to be involved in supporting the dLCV, and that it is more attractive to potential donors to serve as a Board Director than a subcommittee member.