Beatrice Dohrn knows nonprofits. She has spent nearly her entire professional career engaged in public interest work — from Legal Aid in Harlem and the Bronx to nearly a decade at the groundbreaking Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Now she's bringing her expertise, knowledge and commitment to the University of Oregon School of Law as the director of the Nonprofit Clinic.
The clinic engages students from the School of Law, the Department of Planning, Public Policy & Management and the Master's Degree Program in Conflict and Dispute Resolution to work in cross-disciplinary teams to support nonprofit organizations.
The focus of the student groups is to help nonprofits – particularly board members – "professionalize" themselves.
Working under the supervision of faculty and experienced, professional nonprofit consultants, students evaluate the governance practices and structures of several nonprofits. These free "organizational health assessments" are presented to the board and staff at a meeting where the students facilitate the organization in prioritizing from among their recommendations.
"We aim to help the boards take action,” Dohrn said. "We don’t want these reports to end up on the shelf."
In addition to satisfying her desire to help nonprofit organizations, Dohrn’s role as clinic director allows her to work with students. "I love teaching, supporting, mentoring and supervising future nonprofit leaders," she said.
Eyeing the future, Dohrn hopes to grow the clinic, to offer additional services to clients and to serve the clients for a longer duration. She is presently adding a training component to the next clinic intended to give past and current nonprofits free access to a series of group trainings for their boards and staff.
Dohrn, who lived in New York City for 29 years, was in search of a different kind of life when she arrived in Eugene. As she learned more about Oregon, she saw how important the clinic is to the fabric of the community.
"The work of nonprofits is an essential thread in the fabric of the Oregon community," Dohrn said. "It is a key part of how communities in the state are built.”
- from UO School of Law