Board Member Interview: Bill Alderman

bill-alderman, TFI board, living on a dollar a day

Bill Alderman has been a litigation and dispute resolution specialist at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP since 1970. He donates a substantial amount of his time to pro-bono legal work, in addition to his long-standing commitment with TFI.

Bill began his work with TFI in 2008 when TFI President Tom Nazario gave a presentation on the work we do at Bill’s law firm. Since then he has been connected both personally and professionally, as Orrick incorporated TFI and obtained tax-exempt status on its behalf.

He is most enthusiastic about the Fellows Program, which sends talented volunteers to work directly with grassroots agencies in the field for a minimum of eight weeks. He explains, “I see it as a win-win. It provides a service to the organizations that the fellows work with and it provides a potentially life-changing experience to the fellows themselves.”

Bill also was highly supportive of the Living on a Dollar a Day book and documentary project. “They turned out beautifully,” he tells us. “The research that went into the book is powerful. There is vast inequality that exists in the world, and the photos in the book really bring it home.” As Bill sees it, the book helps us all to see the true face of the world’s poverty and inequality.

Despite the depth of poverty around the world, Bill has hope. He tells us, “What inspires me is the people who really devote their lives to making this kind of a difference.” While not everyone can dedicate all of their time to working to solve these complex issues, Bill believes we all have something to learn. “It inspires me to be more charitable, to do more pro bono work. And while I don’t have the time to do the work of the Fellows, I can use my legal skills for pro bono work and financially support organizations that do the work.”

In addition to his support of TFI and the TFI Fellowship Program, Bill is also involved with supporting fellowships for Disability Rights Advocates. He serves on the boards of both the DRA and Bay Area Legal Aid. His desire to support others grew while in law school, where his legal aid work in New Haven, Connecticut provided him with his first significant exposure to poverty. He tells us, “That was an early spark for my pro bono work and for selecting the kinds of organizations I would support financially.”

For anyone searching for an organization to support, or wondering if it’s worth it, Bill has some clear advice: “Look for organizations doing the work that you would do if you had the time. Being generous with your own time and money has its own rewards… we all benefit from knowing we’ve done the right thing.”

To learn more about the TFI Fellows Program and learn how you can help support grassroots organization while simultaneously cultivating the careers of future change-makers, visit our Volunteer Abroad page.

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