Co-founders’ Letter: 2021 Edition
Colleagues, Friends, and Stakeholders of Civil Justice,
When we started Bairs Foundation five years ago, the world was, in many ways, very different from the one we live in now. To begin with, COVID-19 was not yet even a conceptualized term in our vernacular. Five years later, though, we’re as optimistic as ever about the power of civil justice as a pillar of our democracy and society. As we were forming the foundation back in 2016 and thinking about how we could make a meaningful and high-impact investment in the civil justice system, we spent a lot of time meeting with trial lawyers and discussing the challenges faced by their clients. What we learned convinced us that the justice system should be doing more to address the needs of its poorest plaintiffs. At the core of our foundation’s work is the idea that every person deserves access to justice and access to resources that will keep them financially stable while they pursue justice for themselves or their loved ones.
Even in a year as challenging as 2020, we remain committed to supporting civil justice, trial lawyers, their associations, and the ideal that people should not be taken advantage of when they are in a situation of financial desperation.
As a non-profit, we are not in this for our own financial gain and, instead, look to advance as little as is necessary to arrest immediate financial hardship. Philanthropic principles apply that we aim to achieve balance between what is best in the moment and what is best for that person in the long run.
When we first started out, we were surprised to learn how many women from low income families were disparately affected in litigation. Over 2/3 of our applicants to-date are women, with a majority of them being single mothers or heads of household. The recent Essure litigation has especially highlighted the effect product design defect can have on a woman’s entire life. We have helped and will continue to support women who have experienced severe adverse health conditions because of the Essure device and who are waiting for their settlements while being unable to get the medications and surgeries they need after having the device implanted.
We thank you for your support throughout 2020 and every year, as it is you – the dedicated civil justice community – who has allowed us to help these women and others, advancing more than $2.5 million to-date to plaintiffs in need.
On a personal note, we’d like to congratulate our newest board member, Rachel Mathews. Rachel has served as our foundation’s executive director for the past three years and is responsible for much of the great work of our foundation to date. We look forward to her continued contributions as a valued member of our board.
And with that, we’d also like to extend a warm welcome to our new executive director, Brooke Kibrick. Brooke comes to us from Olmsted Center for Sight and now VIA, bringing with her more than a decade of experience working in various marketing and non-profit capacities across a myriad of industries. Since joining Bairs Foundation in August, Brooke has jumped in head-first, and we are excited to see the positive impact she has on our foundation and mission in the coming years.
As we look ahead to 2021, we are eager to explore a promising endeavor that we have recently ideated – a new national pooled special needs trust through Bairs Foundation. The national landscape of special needs trusts is complex, and we believe there is opportunity to streamline services and provide a unique and professional trust administration framework that will provide advice, education, and services to people throughout the country. Look for more information regarding these new services in the coming months.
John and Amy Bair
Bairs Foundation co-founders