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Boards Are Not Boring

Students learn that serving a nonprofit organization is good for the soul.


Many benefits can accrue to those who serve on nonprofit boards AiVi Nguyen ’09 (above) and John Henry ’91 told students at a daylong Nonprofit Director Bootcamp at BC Law on February 9.

Nguyen, for example, credits her elevation to partner at Bowditch and Dewey at age 31 in large part to the business she generated through community board connections. “I was the youngest person to be named partner in the history of my 104-year-old firm,” she said. And that happened even as she was pursuing interests that were personally meaningful to her. “I do this 50 percent for my soul and 50 percent as a business decision,” said Nguyen.

That is now, but back when she was a second-year associate and was invited to join the board of Quinsigamond Community College, she felt uncertain about what she had to offer. She soon discovered that her legal skills were valued and that she could make a contribution in an area of interest she was passionate about, education. She has continued to serve on boards ever since, and said this allows her to engage in her community, Worcester, in ways that might not be possible otherwise.

Nguyen echoed comments made earlier in the day by Henry, who has served on a number of boards, including the Arts and Business Council of Boston, and who spoke of the many satisfactions of nonprofit service.

Professor Brian Quinn, who directs BC Law’s Center for Experiential Learning and organized the bootcamp, said the purpose was to demonstrate to students that good lawyering goes beyond the office and is about giving back. “I wanted to show that the barriers to participation aren’t as high as students just coming out of law school might think,” he said. “It’s about thinking of lawyering as a whole person.”

Watch a video of Nguyen speaking about her appointment as the incoming chair of the United Way of Central Massachusetts.