About My Counsel & Advice


I often get a call from a friend or colleague asking if they can “pick my brain” about a problem or challenge they and/or their organization are dealing with.
The truth is that, while I am usually happy to have the conversation, responding to such requests has not been part of my “day job,” and I have a had a hard time figuring out how much time I can devote to someone’s ask given the other demands of running a mission driven advocacy organization like ICP, and other similar positions over the years. When I decided to step down from ICP as President in 2016, and move to my own consulting practice as of January of this year, I decided that it was time to make “brain picking” part of my day job, and that is one of the things I offer clients. As the insurance company’s ad says, “I know a thing or two, because I’ve seen a thing or two,” and I’m happy to share my knowledge, experience and perspective on a range of issues from managing a mission driven non-profit, developing and working on substantive policy issues from both within and outside government, using litigation as a tool to advance a cause, and strategic planning related to all of those activities. The nature of “brain-picking” is that it is usually a one-time discussion, either in person or by phone/email, asking for advice and counsel on a particular matter, as the person evaluates next steps. It does not involve research or investigation, or any sort of written product, and usually doesn’t involve reading more than perhaps a short summary of the problem or question to focus the conversation. The most important part of the exchange is how the person who calls describes the question/problem, and what the person is looking for: a solution, a direction, a second-opinion, or just a sounding board.


Brain-picking often evolves to a more involved “brainstorming” session, usually after a clear mutual understanding of the question/problem/issue, and the goal of the session.
It will allow some time for at least preliminary review of background materials, maybe some minor research if I need to fill in some blanks for myself, and an agreement about what a successful outcome of the session would be. My role is not to solve the problem, but to help you either solve it, or get some answers that you feel give you a better handle on how to proceed.

Litigation Consulting

As my background shows, I have broad experience both as a lawyer and as an organizational client in civil rights/fair housing/social justice litigation.
Lawsuits brought to address an injustice and/or advance a cause usually require significant strategic planning and evaluation before the case is ever filed. I don’t want to litigate myself anymore, but I am very interested in helping civil rights and poverty lawyers who do think through their case, and develop a litigation strategy and plan for success. Such involvement could be as little as a “brain-picking” or “brainstorming” session, or require more structured participation as you want/need, including pre-filing consultation only, or ongoing involvement with the litigation team throughout the case.

Policy Development and Advocacy

Policy development and advocacy is an essential component of a successful, effective social justice organization.
Government policy at the local, state, and national level impacts the clients you serve, the mission you pursue, and the strategies you employ to either advance the ball or play good defense. I have decades of experience dealing with advocating for, making, implementing, and challenging governmental policies, and I am available to (a) help you design your policy advocacy to achieve your goals and (b) participate in the development of and advocacy for good policies that advance the social justice goals of the governmental entity or the organization.

Program Assessment/Evaluation

Sometimes a non-profit leader would benefit from an independent look at aspects of the organizational programmatic portfolio to determine if it is serving the organizational mission as effectively as it could.
The nature of an organizational structure is that that it tends to be self-perpetuating, which gives it stability and continuity, but can also cause it to become less robust as a time goes on. Inevitably the focus comes to be more on “outputs” rather than “outcomes” in the jargon of the social impact investment world. But critically assessing whether that is happening or is trending can add a challenging role to the already full plate of an executive director or program leadership. Even if it is not, it can be affirming to have someone the leadership respects and trusts to look at the program and the work being done to assess what is working well, and what might be improved or even changed to continue the positive impact that the leadership wants to have. Over the years I often referred to ICP as a “design build” because of the way we started, and how we evolved over time. I have always believed that one of the benefits that the non-profit organization has over a governmental organization is its ability to be flexible and opportunistic in its pursuit of its goals. A small organization probably finds that easier to do than a large one, but in any event, there needs to be an awareness of the benefit of dynamic change under the right circumstances, and a commitment to create space to understand if and how that might be needed.

A consultation that helps organizational leadership assess the work being done aimed at giving the leadership the benefits of a step-back perspective to consider, and ultimately use or not use as they see fit, can be a very cost-effective and non-threatening way to deal with “forest/trees” tension that an organizational leader always faces. A consultation can be structured to fit the circumstances and the budget of the organization, of course, and any initial consultation about the structure of such an engagement would not involve a fee.


I can either help you design a training on a particular topic, help facilitate the training, or, depending, on the topic and the audience, conduct the training for you.

Making Connections

40+ years of work in the field of social justice advocacy, in private legal practice, the non-profit sector, and government have given me the opportunity to know and work with many people whose knowledge and expertise can be invaluable to your work.
I don’t ever pretend to have all the answers you may need, but if I don’t I may very well know someone who does, and be able to connect you to them, as well as help you access who may be the best fit for what you need. And I love putting the right people together – at this stage of life, it may be the most rewarding way to pay it forward.

Terms of Engagement

I charge for my services depending on the nature of those services, but generally offer engagement at either at an hourly rate or on a fixed fee basis for an agreed upon scope of services related to a particular matter.
A “Brain-Picking” session is a flat fee for an up to 90-minute conversation that involves no preparation of follow up. Of course, if preparation for the session is desired, then an hourly rate for pre-session research or reading will apply, and then I’m available for an up to 90-minute conversation to explore the matter as fully as that will allow. Other arrangements that are mutually beneficial can be proposed on a case-by-case basis.