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New president aims to keep OCBF 'growing and evolving'

By Linda Laderman
Legal News

For Kaveh Kashef, president of the Oakland County Bar Foundation, living and working in New York was a chance to make seminal life decisions decisions that ultimately brought him back to Michigan.

After earning an undergraduate degree in English and psychology, from the University of Michigan in 1995, Kashef, who also is a member of Clark Hill's litigation practice group, moved to New York for two years before applying to Tulane University School of Law, from which he graduated in 2001.

Describing his time in New York as his "two-year graduate degree program in life," Kashef found living and working in Manhattan to be a perfect opportunity to help him decide what dreams he wanted to chase and what profession would help him to do that.

"Living in New York was my first opportunity to survive on my own, make decisions on my own, and have to live with the consequences of the decisions I made," Kashef, a native of Grosse Pointe, said. "It was during that time that I decided to go to law school under my own terms and through my own decision-making process, and I think that had a large impact on my success in law school and whatever successes I have achieved in my career."

Thinking he would take up a career as an agent, Kashef worked in New York's film industry, with plans to return to Manhattan after he earned his J.D. at Tulane. But while he was in law school, and later, as a law clerk to Magistrate Judge William A. Web, for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Kashef found himself extolling the virtues of Michigan to friends and associates.

"As I heard myself talking about Michigan I became more and more interested in coming back," Kashef said. "I missed Michigan football and the four seasons. Ultimately I was lucky enough to get an internship with Judge Gerald Rosen, in the U.S. District Court."

Notwithstanding, that he didn't have access to campus recruiters from Michigan law firms at Tulane, Kashef seized every opportunity that came his way to become involved in Detroit's legal community, first as an active member of the OCBA and then the OCBF.

"I hadn't gone to law school with anyone from Michigan but my involvement in the Oakland County Bar Association, where I am also a member of the board of directors, formed my circle of friends," Kashef said.

Kashef segued from his internship with Judge Rosen to working with the late Mike Novak, a highly regarded Detroit entertainment lawyer, at Giarmarco, Mullins & Horton to Clark Hill's litigation group in 2007, where he finds the interactions with his clients to be one of the most satisfying aspects of his work.

"Outside of litigation building relationships with other attorneys and clients is what I love the most," Kashef said. "It brings a fullness to my practice."

Despite a busy practice and a family that includes a toddler and a baby on the way, Kashef said he is happy to make time to get the Foundation's agenda forward in front of the many community stakeholders that benefit from the Foundation's work.

"The time commitment is very rewarding," Kashef said. "And I did not want to miss the opportunity to work with a great board of trustees in the continued growth and development of the Foundation."

After becoming president of the OCBF in July, Kashef is working to broaden the scope of the group's relationships with a strategy that includes plans for an increased social media and web presence, increased OCBF's presence to other non-legal communities, and an expanded fund-raising cycle.

"When it comes to raising money for the Foundation, we are trying to become new and innovative," Kashef said. "Up until now we have raised money almost exclusively during the four-month window leading up to the Signature Event. Now we are looking at a 12-month cycle, something that is out of the box for us."

The Signature Event remains the Foundation's largest single fund-raising effort, bringing in $300,000 in 2016, Kashef said. The 2017 event is scheduled for Friday, April 28 at Oakland Hills Country Club.

Additional opportunities to give include the OCBF's Fellows Program and the Legacy plan, the latter which gives members an opportunity to include the Foundation in their estate planning, Kashef noted.

An OCBF "Fellow" is designated by a pledge of $1,000, while a Charter Fellow is designated by a pledge of $5,000 with all proceeds earmarked for the populations the Oakland Bar Foundation supports.

Money raised by the Foundation funds "a broad range of programs including legal aid clinics, constitution and law-related educational programs, including numerous programs through the Oakland County Bar Association," Kashef said.

"While the Signature Event has been a successful model for us, my mission is to make giving a year round occurrence, with people giving just for the sake of giving," Kashef said. "We want to reach people outside of the legal community, friends and families, who believe in our mission."

To that end, the Foundation is participating in the online challenge, "Give Detroit Challenge," sponsored by HOUR Magazine on Crowdrise, a fund-raising website.

"We were selected, along with some other great area nonprofits to be part of this challenge," Kashef said. "Every dollar we raise we keep and the top three fund-raisers will get a cash prize."

Going forward, Kashef said, "our goals include increasing our annual grant totals and the diversity of the programs and organizations we support, and to continue to develop and implement a brand and identity that aids us in conveying our mission and competing for donor dollars in Southeast Michigan."

Kashef said he is most excited to see the Foundation "growing and evolving in terms of achieving higher fund-raising levels, funding grant requests made by new and varied organizations and watching the new generation of the Foundation's leadership create new and exciting ideas for the future."

Published: Tue, Oct 25, 2016

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