Board of directors installs new leadership, welcomes new members
RALEIGH—Our board of directors installed new leadership and welcomed new members during its virtual meeting June 25. The slate of fresh faces includes big names in North Carolina's corporate, legal and nonprofit communities.
"We are fortunate to enjoy such strong support from so many sectors in our state," said George R. Hausen, Jr., our executive director.
"That we can attract such high-profile leaders from law firms, banks, global technology companies and top-flight nonprofits," he continued, "is testament to the broad importance and high quality of the work we do.
"These directors understand that poverty is a universal issue and that providing access to our civil justice system—a necessary part of the fight against poverty—is not the sole responsibility of the legal community. All of us must chip in to solve a problem that affects us all."
Gonzalo E. Frias, Senior Vice President & Senior Company Counsel in Wells Fargo's legal department, in Charlotte, is our new board chair. Gonzalo joined our board in 2017 and has served as vice-chair since 2019. He takes over as chair from Clayton D. Morgan, associate general counsel of Duke Energy, who left our board today.
“It is a privilege to lead these legal luminaries on the board of an organization with such a noble purpose," Gonzalo said.
"Our board’s passion for justice helps drive Legal Aid of North Carolina’s commitment to client service across our 20 offices throughout the state. I am so excited to be a part of this organization at such a pivotal time.”
Ashley H. Campbell, Director of Campbell Law's Blanchard Community Law Clinic, in Raleigh, is our new vice-chair. Ashley joined our board in 2019 and has served as chair of our Fundraising and Resource Development Committee since 2019. She takes over as vice-chair from Gonzalo Frias, our new chair.
“I began my career at Legal Aid of North Carolina serving the citizens of Gaston, Lincoln and Cleveland counties,” Ashley said.
“It is an honor to continue to serve the organization in this capacity and to continue the quest for equal access to justice for all North Carolinians.”
E.D. "Ed" Gaskins, Jr., Partner in Everett Gaskins Hancock LLP, in Raleigh, is our new treasurer. Ed joined our board in 2017 and has served as secretary since 2019. He takes over as treasurer from Francisco J. Benzoni, assistant attorney general at the N.C. Department of Justice, who left our board today.
Tadra Martin, Supervising Attorney at Disability Rights North Carolina, in Raleigh, is our new secretary. She joined our board in 2020. Before joining Disability Rights NC, Tadra served as one of our staff attorneys. She takes over as secretary from Ed Gaskins, our new treasurer.
Alice Freeman, a licensed cosmetologist, is a resident of Lumberton. Living in a community that was hit hard by two recent hurricanes—Matthew in 2016 and Florence in 2018—she is well acquainted with devastation and misery on a personal level. Natural disasters have forced her to close or relocate her business more than once.
Her role as small-business woman also puts her in touch with the pain of her entire community. "Sometimes I feel like a personal psychiatrist," she said, describing how she listens to her customers talk about the problems and challenges that affect their families. Many of her neighbors are still waiting to be compensated by FEMA.
Not content to merely be a sympathetic ear, Alice is passionate about finding resources to help her neighbors. She has sought connections with other community members and organizations that provide critical services.
"I know what it feels like," she said, referring to the indignities suffered by a poor community in the wake of a natural disaster, "so no one is better than me at finding ways to make it better."
Linda McCall is a proud resident of Durham. She knows the challenges that Legal Aid clients face, because they have been her own challenges. Homelessness, abuse, abandonment—these are not hypothetical or theoretical to her. They have been and continue to be part of her life.
Since she knows what it's like to be treated as if she doesn't exist, she seeks to help and make connections with those whom others might ignore. She sees herself in their faces and hears the longing in their voices. No matter their circumstances, she sees possibilities in everyone she meets.
Her compassion and uncommon empathy have caused her to become a resource for her neighbors in need. She collects informational pamphlets and useful phone numbers to give to those who need help. She talks with young people about making good choices and shares with them that her own choices were not always good ones. She talks with parents, giving them encouragement and listening to their dreams and concerns.
"I can be a fun person," she says, though her tone let's you know that she's serious about the business of helping people.
John Moschandreas joined our board in earlier this year. John is the Deputy General Counsel for Technology, Privacy, and Procurement for Truist, in Charlotte. Before starting his current position in 2019, he served in the legal departments of SunTrust, Procter & Gamble, and Convergys. He earned his J.D. from the Marshall Wythe Law School at William & Mary, in Williamsburg, Va., in 2003.
Jennifer T. Salinas joined our board earlier this year. Jennifer is the Executive Director, General Counsel of the Infrastructure Solutions Group and head of global litigation at Lenovo, in Morrisville. Salinas served as president of the Hispanic National Bar Association from 2018 to 2019, capping off nearly a decade of service in leadership positions with the organization.
“I’m delighted to join Legal Aid of North Carolina’s board,” Jennifer said.
“I have spent most of my 23-year legal career fighting for the rights of the underserved, so I’m excited to continue this work in my new hometown of North Carolina. And of course I look forward to forging longstanding relationships with my fellow board members; a top-notch group of professionals that I’m proud to be associated with.”
John R. Wester joined our board today. John is an attorney with Robinson Bradshaw, in Charlotte. He served as president of the North Carolina Bar Association in 2009-2010. In 2021 he received the Advocate's Award and Citizen Lawyer Award from the NCBA. In 2019 he received the John B. McMillan Distinguished Service Award from the State Bar of North Carolina.
"Early in my time as a lawyer, I had the great good fortune to meet talented lawyers who had chosen Legal Aid for their careers," John said.
"After engaging with them in many courtroom experiences," he continued, "I became their teammate in a federal court class action representing disabled citizens that ran for 18 years (Hyatt v. Shalala).
"Although we in our profession must be wary of elitism, I have learned that there are some tools that only lawyers can wield. To join this board, to be part of this cause, is some honor indeed."
As a grantee of the federal Legal Services Corporation, at least 60% of our board members must be attorneys and at least one-third of our members must be financially eligible to receive our services. The remaining members can be appointed by the board itself without regard to the members' professions or financial circumstances.
# # #
Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity. Learn more at legalaidnc.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Sean Driscoll, Director of Public Relations, 919-856-2132, email@example.com