Melissa Pershing, a lawyer and nonprofit manager with more than a decade of experience in legal aid-related work, will join The Florida Bar Foundation staff July 1 as director of legal assistance for the poor/law student assistance grant programs.
“We are thrilled to have someone of Melissa Pershing’s high caliber and extensive legal services and nonprofit management experience to fill this vital position,” said Maria Henderson, the Foundation’s president. “Her familiarity with Florida legal services organizations is also a huge plus.”
Pershing’s role will involve overseeing the distribution of grants to more than 30 Florida legal aid organizations for the provision of free civil legal assistance to low-income individuals and families, as well as formulating grant-making policies to achieve maximum impact and efficiency, assessing the legal needs of the client population, evaluating grantee performance, and reporting results to the Foundation’s board. In addition, Pershing will direct efforts to promote public interest and pro bono activities among law students through the Foundation’s Law Student Assistance Grant Program once the Foundation is able to restore that program’s funding. These grants have been suspended since 2011 due to severely reduced revenue from Florida’s Interest on Trust Accounts (IOTA) Program.
Pershing comes to the Foundation from Indianapolis, where she has served since 2011 as executive director of The Julian Center, Indiana’s largest domestic violence shelter. She has also led Indianapolis organizations serving people with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and HIV/AIDS and done consulting in nonprofit management. Her consulting work included leading peer review teams for the Ohio and Massachusetts Interest on Lawyers Trust Account programs.
Before moving to Indiana, Pershing was executive director of Legal Services Alabama from 2004 to 2007 and Legal Services of North Carolina from 1998 to 2001.
Pershing succeeds Paul Doyle, who is retiring after serving in the position for 22 years.
“I am so excited about the opportunity to join an organization as widely renowned as The Florida Bar Foundation and to follow after one of my professional heroes, Paul Doyle,” Pershing said.