Meet Alecia Anderson: 2020-21 HCBF President

What inspired you to join the Foundation board and serve as an officer?

I initially wanted to join the board for a few reasons. First, I care deeply about the Foundation’s mission and wanted to have an active part in helping to guide the organization and fulfill its purpose. I was also interested in learning more about the legal community in Hennepin County and meeting more attorneys around the city. The collegial nature of the board is also what led me to serve as an officer. We have a diverse community that shares a passion for justice and want to work toward it.
What are your goals for the Foundation for the 
2020-2021 bar year?

This is certainly going to be a different year for the Foundation. With that, my goal is still to move the Foundation forward in its objectives. I would like to increase the number of remote events that the Foundation hosts, so that our community can remain engaged and active. I would also like to invite more attorneys to join our ranks as Fellows and maintain a steady source of donations to the Foundation. Finally, I would like to maintain our level of grants. The work that our grantees do is vitally important, and for many people, there are a number of barriers that prevent them from accessing justice. I hope that our work will continue to tear down those barriers.

How has the Foundation adjusted its planning this year in response to the pandemic?

The Foundation has had to adjust to a virtual world. All of our Foundation board meetings are now remote. We are also looking to replace our traditional September golf tournament with some virtual events, and preparing to do the same for our March Bar Benefit, if needed. Since these events represent the bulk of our fundraising, we will need to adapt and become more creative. I know that our staff and volunteers are more than up to the task. The Foundation recently hosted a CLE called Criminal Justice Reform in the Wake of George Floyd with three of our grantees, All Square, Legal Rights Center, and Seward Longfellow Restorative Justice. It was a fantastic program that highlighted the critical work being done in the realm of criminal justice reform, and we hope to host more CLEs in the future.

What would you like the local legal community to know about the HCBF?

This Foundation belongs to all of us. I think the legal community has a vitally important role to play in our current environment, and the Foundation can have a crucial impact to those in Hennepin County. Our mission is to improve access to justice in Hennepin County. But what does justice look like? What does access look like? These are important questions that we continually grapple with, and are made even more opaque in this environment. In 1993, the Minnesota Supreme Court Task Force on Racial Bias in the Courts released its report on the first ever study on racial bias in Minnesota courts. Its findings were a wakeup call for the legal community, and many changes have been implemented since. Nevertheless, more work needs to be done. The support the Foundation provides, in the form of grants, to community nonprofits helps to clarify those questions. How and who we fund shows the values our legal community holds. I think it is important that all HCBA members take ownership and pride in our Foundation; we do great things.

What perspective do you bring to the Foundation?

I think I bring a diverse point of view. I am a non-traditional lawyer that does not work in a firm setting. I’m also a lesbian, half-white, half-Korean, adoptee who became a U.S. citizen when I was 17 years old. 

How can HCBA members get involved with and support the HCBF?

There are numerous ways HCBA members can get involved. You could donate to the Foundation. We always welcome new or repeat donors. For a more sustained commitment, please consider joining as a Fellow. The Foundation started the Fellows program two years ago, and it has already had a significant positive impact on our fundraising efforts. The Fellows Program is an honorary society of attorneys, judges, law faculty, and legal scholars whose public and private careers have demonstrated exemplary dedication to upholding the standard of the legal profession and commitment to increasing access to justice. In the first year, we had 15 Founding Fellows and 60 Fellows who were nominated and initiated into the program. We look forward to initiating a new class of Fellows this year as the program continues to grow. You can also volunteer to be on our Grants Committee. You would be helping to analyze and choose the grantees in a day-long session with other committee members. Finally, you can become a board member. Board members are critical to the operation of the Foundation, and we would welcome more attorneys to apply.

Previous HCBF presidents have come from a variety backgrounds, large firm, small firm, judiciary, what experience do you bring to this role as a transaction attorney?

I think being a transaction attorney has allowed me to have more varied experiences. It has also allowed me to explore various areas outside of the law. I have had previous experience with nonprofits and working with racial justice and implicit bias issues. I have led on nonprofit boards, such as Ampersand Families, that allowed me to really see the need for foundations such as the HCBF. I was able to serve alongside Justice Alan Page and others on the Racial Fairness Committee (prior to its reorganization). That experience really allowed me to delve into the issues of racial discrimination and bias in the courts. I’ve volunteered in child protection and am involved in efforts to establish a state child protection ombudsman. I think a diversity of experience strengthens the Foundation and helps us to remain vigilant guardians for justice. 

What has been your favorite hobby during quarantine?

I have been reading quite a bit during quarantine. I generally like to read a mix of fiction and nonfiction but have been leaning more towards non-fiction lately. I would highly recommend The Usefulness of the Useless by Nuccio Ordine. It’s a fantastic read that justifies all of the random facts floating around in my mind. 

Any other fun facts that HCBA members might not know about you?

I am a Gryffindor.
Managing Editor
Elsa Cournoyer

Executive Editor

Joseph Satter