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2019 VLSAA Board of Directors Nominees

At large Director Nominee

Jesse Fries JD'14

Jesse Fries JD'14 I’ll attempt to frame my answers via the prompts, but may not address every specific portion—and hope these answers serve as a jumping off point for ongoing conversations regarding the role of the VLS Alumni Association and the future of the school we all love and cherish.

Ideally, in the next five years VLS can continue working towards a stable financial state that both ensures the school’s ongoing viability and affordable access to a legal education for our students. Growing numbers of applications and enrolled students are encouraging developments, but the school should also be making sure students are ready to enter a very competitive legal market.

Personally, I would like to see the school expand academic offerings to include more basic science classes for environmental lawyers, and continue to push our excellent—and ever improving—experiential learning opportunities (SiP, clinics, etc.)

In terms of fundraising, VLS does an excellent job of encouraging and recruiting smaller donations. As a large portion of alumni work in the public sector—either for nonprofits, small firms, or governmental agencies—it can be difficult to locate large, continuing donations. That said, even those of us on a less stable financial footing can feel a sense of pride and ownership by contributing smaller amounts—or as we are able. As the Alumni Association continues to grow and expand into new regions this will be an important thing to grow.

The benefits for expanding into new regional groups do not end there. VLS has graduates throughout the United States (and the world). Even in my small corner of Kentucky I can readily name 3-4 alumni within a 2 hour drive. Fostering these connections for fundraising is important—but it is perhaps more important to have alumni supporting each other, serving as examples, and being more accessible to students.

This leads me to my passion, which is mentoring and helping younger attorneys. Our career can be cutthroat, stressful, and just plain difficult. Oftentimes it can feel like you are expected to forge your own way, or that workplace mentors seem perturbed by your questions. Having regional and nationwide mentorship opportunities for students, new lawyers, and all VLS alumni serves as an important bridge to many of the goals of the VLS Alumni Association, but also allows students to ask the crucial questions they have—which makes them more complete attorneys and people.

At VLS I was a student representative to the Faculty Hiring Committee, a member (and one-year treasurer) of the Fightin’ Swan Rugby team, a member of the Student Bar Association, a Student Ambassador, a member of Alliance, and a clinician at the ENRLC. Since graduation my opportunities to contribute my time have been limited, but I was delighted to serve as an Appellate Advocacy Judge for Prof. Brian Porto—an experience which reignited my passion for VLS, its future, and my own role in giving back.

In my own career and personal life I have been afforded great opportunities to work with various organizations (both for-profit and non-profit). These include: serving as a board member for Master Musicians Festival—a 5000-6000 person music festival in Somerset, KY which enters its 26th year with a national lineup of acts and 3 stages; Watershed Arts Alliance—a local arts board focused on increasing opportunities for youth artists and bringing art to our region that might otherwise not be financially viable; and working with youth through the Boy Scouts of America program.

These opportunities have involved many long nights of meetings, negotiation, brainstorming, and conversation regarding the best path forward. In my time on a local arts council we struggled with increasing opportunities for our youth while also grappling with a budget shortfall. Through hard work we were able to recruit new donors, bring older donors back into the fold, and increase both visibility and opportunities for young artists.

I will bring those same skills, passion, and dedication to any role I should be selected or asked to fulfill. Thank you for your time.

At-Large Director NOMINEES

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Alumni Trustee NOMINEE

VLSAA Board of Directors Election
The 2019 VLSAA Election is now closed. Results will be announced in August.

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