Austin Lawyer Andy White Drawn to the Non-Profit Sector by his Clients’ Passion

For Andy White, it’s the best of both worlds – doing what he loves and making a difference in the lives of others.

So when the opportunity came recently for White, an Austin attorney, to embrace another non-profit, Critical Mass: the Young Adult Cancer Alliance (http://criticalmass.org/), the decision was an easy one. Critical Mass had incubated at the Livestrong Foundation, where White has been a central figure in establishing the Foundation’s governance, and he had witnessed the passion of Critical Mass’ founder, Heidi Adams, first-hand.

We sought out White to understand more about his support of Critical Mass and his commitment to this area of law.

Question: Describe your job?

Answer: I represent organizations seeking to qualify for and maintain exemptions from federal and state income taxes. That includes counseling clients on non-profit and exempt organization formation and governance; grant making strategies and procedures; policies to advance best practices in corporate governance and ethical leadership; appropriate boundaries for lobbying activities and advocacy initiatives; and a wide array of other issues unique to tax exempt organizations operating in the U.S. and overseas. I also spend part of my professional time engaged directly in private foundation and grant management.

Q: What do you like most about it?

A: In the course of my work clients are sharing deeply held passions and personal commitments with me. In the non-profit sector these passions and commitments are directed in service to a wide array of important community causes and community members, many of whom are disadvantaged and underserved. It is quite extraordinary and inspiring to see the effects of these efforts up close. To be entrusted with a role in helping facilitate solutions to the legal and operational issues these organizations face in realizing the promise of their passions and commitments is a real privilege.

Q: How did you get involved in Critical Mass?

A: I’ve been engaged with the Livestrong Foundation since its inception in a variety of different roles – legal counsel, board member, audit committee, grant review – and have worked with Heidi in most of those criticalcapacities dating back to her founding of Planet Cancer many years ago. Livestrong’s incubation of programming and supports for young adult cancer survivors and Heidi’s prominence as a national leader and deep expertise in this space are coming together in a very exciting way for Critical Mass.

Q: What role do you play in the organization?

A: I’ve had a small role to date in counseling board and staff in a variety of “start up” issues related to exempt organization formation and governance.

Q: Who had the most influence on you becoming a lawyer and why?

A: I’d originally planned on a business career and worked in banking for three years after college. In getting to know bank customers who were attorneys I was intrigued with the range of activities and businesses they were engaged with. In interacting with lawyers who were bank trust department employees, I was impressed with the difference lawyers could make for individual clients. And I was drawn to the role outside counsel played in working with my colleagues at the bank in support of their responsibilities. Eventually I considered that a law degree might offer a good career pathway for me – which happily has turned out to be the case!


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