Like many nonprofits, ESEA Network had to change their plans for their annual conference when COVID-19 hit. ESEA Network works to provide equitable educational opportunities to economically disadvantaged children through a variety of methods, including an in-person conference for leaders in education.
COO of ESEA Network, Jason Vallina, was in a bind as he’d already booked a venue for their annual conference and now the event venue wouldn’t let them out of their contract.
“It’s a big gray area,” he said. “They don’t have a good answer. We don’t have a good answer.”
After hearing about Charitable Allies from another nonprofit, Jason decided to reach out.
“You can tell from the first communication that these people care and they want to do right by you. They’re not just out to ask ‘can we bill them a bunch of hours,” Jason said. “Charitable Allies has a rock solid understanding of nonprofits: the challenges we face, the way business is conducted, how the board of directors works, all the things that go into running a nonprofit.”
He was paired with attorney Brenda Freije, who helped him navigate negotiations with the event venue and strategize how to move the organization forward, making adjustments for the conditions of the pandemic.
“Brenda’s been incredible. She’s extremely responsive. Just a pleasure to work with. She strikes a nice balance between being approachable and human, with being professional,” Jason said. “She’s been a great source, not just for legal advice. She’s been a great source of reassurance with things we hadn’t dealt with before.”
ESEA Network will hold a virtual conference in early 2021, with a focus on innovation and technology in education, to help educators continue to provide the best possible education for kids during the pandemic. Now, Jason knows that ESEA Network can move forward confidently in their mission, with the continued guidance from Charitable Allies along the way.
“We rely on partners like Charitable Allies to be a source of whatever grounding we can get right now,” Jason said. “I have no doubt that there are other law firms out there that specialize in nonprofits. But one of the biggest things for me is that everyone I’ve interacted with at Charitable Allies has been tremendously human. I really appreciate having a person I can speak to as a person. It’s not this stoic, impenetrable, stuffy legal wall. Its people.”