2011-07-01 / Top Stories

Schneiderman Assembles Non-Profit Taskforce

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently announced the members of his Leadership Committee for Nonprofit Revitalization. The task force, composed of 29 leaders in the nonprofit sector from across New York State, is charged with presenting a series of recommendations to the Attorney General to reduce the regulatory burdens and costs on nonprofits while strengthening nonprofit accountability.

“For too long, New York’s regulatory framework has placed unnecessary burdens on nonprofits, which are simply untenable during these challenging financial times,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “We must modernize the rules of the road so the nonprofit sector can thrive. We can be tougher on policing fraud without imposing needless burdens and costs on this vital sector of New York’s economy.”

Statewide, nonprofits employ between 17 and 18 percent of New York’s workforce. In New York City, nonprofits employ 500,000 people. At an April meeting of the Association for a Better New York, the Attorney General, whose office oversees nonprofits operating in New York State, announced that he would work with the state’s nonprofit sector and business and labor communities to help eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy that has long plagued nonprofits, such as redundant audits and overlapping reporting requirements, and delays in processing and payment of contracts.

Based on the key issues that the nonprofit sector has identified to the Attorney General’s Office, the Leadership Committee’s activities will focus on the following: making recommendations on how to reduce regulatory burdens and more effectively address regulatory concerns; developing legislative proposals to modernize New York’s nonprofit laws that would eliminate outdated requirements and unnecessary burdens while strengthening accountability; and proposing measures to enhance board governance and effectiveness, including through new programs to recruit and train nonprofit board members.

The Leadership Committee will be staffed by the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau Chief, Jason Lilien, and will be charged with completing its work by the end of this year. The members of the Leadership Committee are as follows: Seema Agnani is the cofounder and Executive Director of Chhaya Community Development Corporation. She formerly served as the Coordinating Consultant to the Fund for New Citizens at The New York Community Trust. Ms. Agnani was also the Director of Training and Technical Assistance Committee at Citizens for New York City. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development.

Sharon Ball is the Executive Director of the Broome County Arts Council, where she oversees the organization’s fundraising and grant making activities, member services, advocacy and programs Ms. Ball is a former broadcast journalist with NPR News in Washington, D.C. She has had numerous academic honors, including a fellowship at Harvard University. Joseph P. Benincasa is the President and CEO of The Actors’ Fund, the national human service organization that supports entertainment and the performing arts. He serves on numerous boards, including Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Career Transition for Dancers, and Times Square Alliance, and is a past Chair of the New York Society of Association Executives.

Victoria Bjorklund is a Partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, where she heads the firm’s Exempt Organizations Group. She is a director of and pro bono counsel for the Robin Hood Foundation, and a director of the American Friends of the Louvre, the Louvre Endowment, Friends of Fondation de France, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. In 2001, she was appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury to serve as one of six exempt-organization members on the IRS’s Tax Exempt/Government Entities Advisory Committee.

Cali Brooks has served since 2001 as the President and Executive Director of the Adirondack Community Trust in Lake Placid, the community foundation serving the Adirondack region. Brooks currently serves on the Membership Committee for the Council on Foundations and has worked with dozens of organizations throughout the United States, Southeast Asia and Central America to strengthen civil society.

Ronna Brown is the President of Philanthropy New York, a position she has held since August 2007. Ms. Brown served for nine years as the President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan New York. Ms. Brown was the Deputy Bureau Chief of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s Office and is also a past chair of the Committee on Consumer Affairs and member of the NonProfit Committee at the New York City Bar Association.

Richard R. Buery, Jr. is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The Children’s Aid Society. Mr. Buery previously co-founded and served as Executive Director of Groundwork, Inc., a nonprofit organization serving the children and families of Brooklyn public housing developments. He co-founded and served as executive director of iMentor, a technology education and mentoring program.

Michael Clark has served since 2005 as the President and Executive Director of the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York. Mr. Clark served for 19 years as President of the Citizens Committee for NYC, where he established the organization’s Neighborhood Anti-Crime Center: Project One City. He also created the Neighborhood Leadership Institute to train neighborhood volunteers to improve the quality of life throughout the city’s five boroughs. He has more than 30 years of professional training and background in urban issues, public health and nonprofit management.

Cecilia Clarke is the Founder and Executive Director of the Sadie Nash Leadership Project, which was award- ed the New York Times Nonprofit Gold Prize Award for Overall Management Excellence in 2010 Ms. Clarke has served as Manager of Government Grants at The Brooklyn Museum of Art and Director of Development and Associate Director at The Drawing Center. From 2003 through 2010, she served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy.

Michael Cooney is a Partner at Nixon, Peabody in Rochester. Mr. Cooney’s practice includes clients such as private colleges and universities, hospitals and health care systems, social clubs, trade associations, private foundations, and religious organizations. His work on investing and administering donorrestricted or donor-advised funds is nationally known. He has worked on issues such as tax-exemption and private foundation status, joint ventures both between exempt entities and with for-profit partners, and unrelated business income tax.

Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker is President and CEO of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, and previously served as the executive director of the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women. She led an initiative to establish the Family Justice Center of Erie County for victims of domestic violence and the Western New York Women’s Fund, and founded the Literacy Funders Network. She was appointed to the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation, served as U.S. Committee Co-Chair of the United Nations International Year of the Volunteer and President of the Association of Junior Leagues International.

Alisa Robbins Doctoroff was appointed chair of the board of UJA-Federation on July 1, 2010, having served as chair of the Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal. Ms. Doctoroff served as president of the Abraham Joshua Heschel School and was instrumental in founding its high school division in 2001. She is active on the boards of Moving Traditions, MechonHadar, and the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she chairs the Governance Committee. She is also past president of Congregation Or Zarua, co-founder of the Jewish Lens, and a board member of the Jewish Funders Network.

Peter Dunn is President of Central NY Community Foundation and formerly served as Vice President of Philanthropic Services for the California Community Foundation. Prior to 1996, Dunn was Program Coordinator for Community Foundation Services with the Council on Foundations, the national association of philanthropic foundations, based in Washington, D.C. He started his nonprofit career as a fundraiser for the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County in 1993.

Fatima Goldman is the Executive Director and CEO of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Inc. In 2005, she was appointed by the Commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) as co-chair of the taskforce on minority governed, community-based child welfare agencies. She also currently serves on the Senior Advisory Council of the New York City Department for the Aging, Office of Financial Empowerment Advisory Council, New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Advisory Council, Advisory Board for the Public Advocate’s Office, and recently joined the Steering Committee of One New York City – One Nation in the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. Dr. Robert Greenspan has served as the CEO of the New York Hotel Trades Council and the Hotel Association of New York City, Inc. Employee Benefit Funds and Executive Director of Health Center Inc, since May 2009. For the previous 11 years, Dr. Greenspan served as its Chief Medical Officer.

Susan Hager is the President and CEO at United Way of New York State, which serves 42 local United Ways. Prior to that, she served as Director of the Speaker’s Regional Offices in the New York State Assembly. Ms. Hager was a governor-appointee to the original Not for Profit Contracting Advisory Committee in 1991, and a newly reconstituted Not for Profit Contracting Advisory Committee. She is a past Chair of the State Set-Aside Committee for the federally funded Emergency Good and Shelter Program.

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