How many lawyers in gorilla suits does it take to tackle poverty? It might sound like joke, but to the 31 Bay Area law firms competing in United Way’s Koko Challenge this year, fighting poverty is something they all take very seriously.
Every year, the legal community comes together to raise money to fight poverty. Competition is fierce, and top winners receive stuffed gorillas as a prize. Law firms have been known to station their gorillas proudly in their lobbies, symbolizing their dedication to the community.
On September 22, we kicked-off the 24th annual Koko Challenge, Last year, 21 participating firms raised $1.5 million. With 10 new firms joining the Challenge this year, we’re excited to see the legal community once again raise the bar for philanthropy in the Bay Area.
The theme of this year’s challenge is “Class action against poverty,” to align with United Way’s community effort to cut in half the number of local families who live in poverty by the year 2020.
Gap, Inc. General Counsel Michelle Banks, chair of this year’s Koko Cabinet, announced this year’s goal to raise $1.8 million, with $700,000 directed to United Way.
The Fremont Group General Counsel Rick Kopf chimed in, urging everyone to increase their gifts by 20% and direct it to United Way programs: SparkPoint, Community Schools, MatchBridge, 211 and Earn It! Keep It! Save It! This collective increase would raise an additional $300,000 for United Way, and enable us to continue to operate and expand our poverty fighting programs.
The spirit and enthusiasm of Shook, Hardy and Bacon LLP Partner Kevin Haroff was hard to match as he had already purchased his own gorilla suit. To help raise spirits – as well as funds – during this year’s Challenge, he offered to wear the gorilla suit to any event hosted by the 10 new participating firms.
Many thanks to Shook, Hardy and Bacon LLP, winner of last year’s Baby Koko award and host of our kick-off event. And, thank you to the Koko Koko Cabinet, a volunteer committee that oversees the Challenge (listed below). The Challenge would not be possible without your support and enthusiasm.
For more information about how you can join the 2010-2011 Koko Challenge please contact Danielle Cohen (415) 808-4322 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
2011 – 2012 Koko Cabinet
- Michelle Banks, EVP, General Counsel, Gap, Inc. – Chair
- Charles S. Custer, Partner, Gordon & Rees LLP
- Nancy Greenan Hamill, Campus Counsel, UC Santa Barbara
- Kevin Haroff, Partner, Shook, Hardy & Bacon, LLP
- David A. Hearth, Partner, Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker
- Michael W. Kelly, Partner, Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP
- Rick Kopf, Managing Director, Operations & General Counsel, The Fremont Group
- R. Hewitt Pate, VP, General Counsel, Chevron Corporation
- James Potter, SVP, General Counsel, Del Monte Foods
- Jay J. Price, Assistant General Counsel, Bank of America
- Bill Sawyers, EVP, CAO & General Counsel, Ernst Gallo Clinic and Research Center
- Jim Strother, EVP, General Counsel, Wells Fargo & Co.
- Vanessa Washington, Senior EVP, General Counsel & Secretary, Bank of the West
View a photo slideshow from the event: