Our Nonprofit Legal Expert Continues to Offer Wise AdviceMy last post mentioned our recent Benetech board meeting. This seemed like a great moment to introduce our newest board member, Robert Wexler.
Rob has a deep understanding of what makes nonprofits successful. He’s a principal at Adler & Colvin, San Francisco's top law firm specializing in nonprofit law. His practice focuses on tax and corporate matters for nonprofits and their donors. Rob is also a lecturer at Stanford Law School where he teaches the Law of Nonprofit Organizations.
Rob has helped Benetech navigate important transitions over the years including providing critical legal advice during the sale of the Arkenstone product line in 2000, including expanding our charter from just working on disability issues to a wider range of social issues (now including human rights and the environment). Proceeds from the sale of the Arkenstone reading machine for the blind provided the capital to fund Benetech and launch many new technology projects that serve humanity. As part of the Arkenstone sales, Rob also helped us create a wholly owned for-profit subsidiary to protect our nonprofit status (by having a taxable subsidiary handle unrelated business income, the nonprofit parent was better protected). Rob also helped me with my recent essay in the Spring 2011 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, For Love or Lucre that offers practical guidelines for social entrepreneurs who want to start for-profit or nonprofit companies.
Rob is committed to the success of social enterprises. He has served as a board member and officer on several nonprofit boards and has donated his time for the Volunteer Legal Services Program of the Bar Association of San Francisco. I particularly have appreciated his help with the SF chapter of the Social Enterprise Alliance, a national organization I helped found and am now the immediate past chair. He's also been part of the effort to propose the Flexible Purpose Corporation here in California, an effort I strongly support to allow for-profit corporations to add a social purpose into their basic organizational charter.
We will look to Rob for advice and guidance as Benetech continues to explore new technologies that help empower underserved communities. We are fortunate to have his experience, intellect and deep dedication to innovative social change on Benetech's governing body!