Virginia Poverty Law Center, Inc.
919 East Main Street, Suite 610
Richmond VA 23219
Mission Statement

The Virginia Poverty Law Center (VPLC) is committed to leading and coordinating efforts to seek justice in civil legal matters for lower-income Virginians.

Web and Social Media
Executive Director Jay Speer speaks on the issue of poverty in Virginia.
CEO/Executive Director James Speer
Board Chair Ms. Joanna Suyes Esq.
Board Chair Company Affiliation Marks & Harrison
Contact Information
Address 919 East Main Street, Suite 610
Richmond, VA 23219
Telephone 804 782-9430
Fax 804 649-0974
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 1979
Financial Summary
Revenue vs Expense Bar Graph - All Years
Expense Breakdown Bar Chart - All Years
Projected Revenue $1,573,807.00
Projected Expenses $1,943,800.00
Additional Documents
VPLC Brochure2010View

The Virginia Poverty Law Center (VPLC) is committed to leading and coordinating efforts to seek justice in civil legal matters for lower-income Virginians.


VPLC develops and hosts the Annual Statewide Legal Aid Conference. This conference provides comprehensive training on poverty law issues to the Legal Aid community and community partners. Since inception in 1980, the conference has been a no cost, three-day conference to ensure Legal Aid attorneys, paralegals, board members and other staff are provided comprehensive training on civil law issues.

VPLC continues to advocate for and provide a voice for Virginians low-income community through its work in the Virginia General Assembly. Highlights from the 2016 session include: leading an effort to stop bills that would have opened up Virginia to unregulated internet lending, increased the budget for Long-Term Care Ombudsmen program, successfully advocated for funding for a program, Fostering Futures, which will help youth aging out of foster care. Additionally, this past session was a huge win for domestic and sexual assault survivors. Individuals under a ‘full’, or two-year, protective order may no longer be able to carry a concealed weapon nor purchase or transport firearms.

VPLC's Hunger Solutions program has been instrumental in supporting elementary schools in their efforts to implement non-traditional breakfast service models, such as Breakfast-After-The Bell.  Virginia climbed from 10th in the nation to 4th in the nation for the percentage of schools participating in the National School Lunch Program who were also participating in the School Breakfast Program. 
VPLC helps to lead activities of the Healthcare for All Virginians coalition, comprised of over 100 Virginia organizations.  This coalition works to close the Medicare Gap and released its "Faces of Virginia's Coverage Gap" in January. 

$100,000 for an experienced Elder Law attorney. By 2020, for the first time in history, the number of older people will outnumber the number of children younger than five years of age. In the next 25 years, the number of people older than 65 will double. There is a growing need for quality legal aid attorneys specialing in elder issues. Many who have dedicated their legal careers to Elder Law are retiring. There will soon be an experience vacuum just as the need for Elder Law services grows.

Pro Bono Attorneys. Specifically, attorneys versed in domestic and sexual violence who could assist with cases resulting result from a clinic VPLC holds quarterly to help immigrant victims of domestic and sexual violence.

VPLC is currently recruiting volunteers to assist planning our 40th Anniversary celebration to be held November 2018 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. We are also seeking sponsorships to help underwrite costs associated with this event.

Seeking individuals who believe everyone, regardless of socio-economic status, deserves quality legal representation in civil legal matters. These individuals would help VPLC educate the community at large of issues affecting low-income Virginian’s and help build a foundation of individual donor support.


Virginia Poverty Law Center Inc. incorporated August 30, 1978, as the Virginia State Legal Aid Society Support Center and, in 1980, changed the name to Virginia Poverty Law Center, Inc. (VPLC).  From the beginning VPLC has been a clearinghouse of information on poverty law, providing expert technical assistance and training to Virginia’s legal aid community, private attorneys and other advocates for low-income people. VPLC’s annual statewide legal aid conference, new lawyer training, regular task force meetings and listservs continue to provide a foundation for the delivery of quality legal services in Virginia.


Throughout its existence, VPLC has been a cornerstone in the legal services community by leading the way in advocacy efforts in the courts, legislature and administrative agencies. Often coordinating and collaborating with other groups and organizations, VPLC continues its work on behalf of Virginia’s low-income residents with as much vigor as when it first opened its doors and took on its first project: to tackle the issue of hunger in the Commonwealth.

VPLC currently as attorney issue experts in the following civil legal areas:
Consumer Law
Domestic & Sexual Assault
Elder Law
Family Law
Foster Care Issues
Health Care
Predatory Lending
Public Benefits

Some of VPLC’s most significant work since then has come through its work in the Virginia General Assembly. VPLC advocates for bills that would benefit low-income residents of the commonwealth and fights those that would be a step backward.

CEO Statement

Dear Justice Advocate,

The Virginia Poverty Law Center, founded in 1978, is a statewide nonprofit, coordinating and leading efforts to seek justice in civil legal matters for low-income Virginians. Our efforts to ensure equal access to justice includes providing leadership and advocacy to protect and improve the laws that affect this often vulnerable population.

VPLC works to preserve and enhance opportunities for low-income Virginians to obtain health care, public assistance and safe and decent affordable housing. We also work to protect their rights to be free from predatory consumer practices and financial exploitation and be safe from domestic and sexual violence. VPLC supports any legislation that strengthens legal protections for low-income people and opposes any that threatens to further harm this population.

Above all, we work to ensure that Virginia’s laws treat low-income people fairly and provide them equal access to our justice system.

Unfortunately, there is much work to be done.

We are grateful for your willingness to explore Virginia Poverty Law Center’s mission and our work and for your belief in a fair and just society for all Virginians. Together we form a united voice for a population whose voice is often times overlooked.

Thank you for your belief that ALL CITIZENS, regardless of economic status, should have equal access to justice.


Jay Speer

Executive Director

Areas of Service
Areas Served
Board Chair
Board Chair Ms. Joanna Suyes Esq.
Company Affiliation Marks & Harrison
Term July 2016 to June 2017
Board CoChair
Board CoChair Mr. Gobind Sethi Esq.
Company Affiliation Hall & Sethi
Term July 2016 to June 2017
Board of Directors
Board Members
Mr. Jeffrey Allison Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Mr. Lenonard Bennett Esq.Consumer Litigation Associates
Mr. Karl Bren Retired
Mrs. Kristi Cahoon Kelly Esq.Kelly & Crandall, PLC
Ms. Lillie A. Estes Community Volunteer
Mr. Tracy Giles Esq.Giles & Lambert
Pastor Rodney Hunter Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church
Mrs. Eunice Joyner Community Volunteer
Ms. Christine Malone Community Volunteer
Ms. Suyong Min Esq.Law Office of Su Yong Min, PLLC
Mr. Scott Oostydk Esq.McGuireWoods
Dr. Diane Pappas University of Virginia
Mr. Gobind Sethi Esq.Hall & Sethi
Prof. A. Benjamin Spencer EsqUVA School of Law
Ms. Joanna Suyes Esq.Marks & Harrison
Mr. Joe Tannery Esq.Dominion Resources
Mrs. Lori Thompson Esq.LeClairRyan
Mr. Derrick Walker Esq.Allen & Allen
Mr. John Whitfield Esq.Blue Ridge Legal Services
Mrs. Sarah Jane Wyatt Community Volunteer
Ms. Vicky Zakaria Community Volunteer
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 5
Asian American/Pacific Islander 2
Caucasian 13
Hispanic/Latino 1
Native American/American Indian 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 10
Female 11
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 2
Board Meeting Attendance % 75
Written Board Selection Criteria? Under Development
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 81
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 80
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 4
Standing Committees
Board Governance
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
Other Boards
The tables below contain information about other groups that advise this nonprofit on operations and projects.
Executive Director
Executive Director James Speer
Former CEOs
Mr. Steve Myers Esq. - May 2006
Senior Staff
Jill Hanken Health Law Attorney
Full Time Staff 9
Retention Rate 95
Organization has a Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has a Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers 5
Date Strategic Plan Adopted July 2011
Management Succession Plan? No
Organization Policy and Procedures Under Development
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
Voices for Virginia's Families
Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME)
Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy
Virginia Organizing
Virginia Partnership to Encourage Responsible Lending
Healthcare for All Virginians
Consumer Alliance of Virginia
Legal Aid Justice Center
Blue Ridge Legal Services
Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia
Legal Services of Northern Virginia
Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society 

VPLC has engaged in statewide legislative and administrative advocacy to ensure accessible health care for low-income children and their families, pregnant women, the elderly and disabled. VPLC’s work has resulted in many improvements to Virginia’s Medicaid, child health insurance and indigent care programs. In addition to working with legal aid staff, VPLC has coordinated and collaborated with dozens of other groups and organizations to address health care issues.  

Population Served Other Economic Level
Budget $55,000.00

Nursing home patient’s rights, the improvement of nursing homes around the commonwealth and an ongoing fight for the well-being of Virginia’s senior citizens have been just some of the issues for which VPLC has advocated over the years.

Population Served Elderly and/or Disabled
Budget $80,000.00

Youth in Virginia, especially those in foster care, are of great importance to VPLC. In the legislature and in the community, VPLC works to bring to light the rights of youth in foster care and hopes to see a time in which more youth are adopted from foster care. VPLC has also filed litigation and supported legislation to ensure sufficient child support for Virginia’s low-income families.

Population Served Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Budget $50,000.00

VPLC has made strides in protecting the rights of victims of domestic and sexual violence, especially when fighting legislation that would be a step backward for victims of abuse. A significant improvement to the way protective orders are entered into the Virginia Criminal Information Network (VCIN) is just one of the many changes that have come about as a result of VPLC’s work on behalf of victims of domestic and sexual violence.

Population Served Adults
Budget $75,000.00

Protecting the rights of consumers in Virginia has been a mainstay of VPLC. Predatory lending has been at the forefront of issues that VPLC has fought. Because of VPLC’s work on predatory lending, more restrictions have been placed on this industry making it harder for these types of lenders to keep Virginians in a vicious cycle of debt.

Population Served Adults
Budget $100,000.00
Fiscal Year
Projected Revenue $1,573,807.00
Projected Expenses $1,943,800.00
Form 990s
IRS Letter of Exemption
Detailed Financials
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201520142013
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$3,356,127$0$0
Individual Contributions$725,895--$1,076,588
Investment Income, Net of Losses$1,469$41,381$30,340
Membership Dues------
Special Events------
Revenue In-Kind------
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201520142013
Program Expense$4,287,019$1,995,300$1,057,386
Administration Expense$157,516$130,348$134,560
Fundraising Expense$4,893$4,999$3,399
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.031.050.96
Program Expense/Total Expenses96%94%88%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue0%0%0%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201520142013
Total Assets$1,005,327$713,258$533,954
Current Assets$1,001,261$706,425$527,233
Long-Term Liabilities$0----
Current Liabilities$477,568$319,829$245,583
Total Net Assets$527,759$393,429$288,371
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities2.102.212.15
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
State Charitable Solicitaions Permit
Solicitations Permit
Solicitations Permit Application Confirmation 6/2016View
Foundation Comments
  • Financial information provided from audited financial statements.
  • Audited financial statements and IRS 990s prepared by Barcalow & Hart, PLLC.
  • Revenue from "Foundations and Corporations" also includes support from individuals and governmental agencies.