2021 Annual Report

Letter from the Executive Director


January 1, 2022, marked my one-year anniversary as Executive Director. As you will read in this report, my first year was full of challenges, but none compared to the struggles our clients faced every day through 2021. Working parents struggled to keep their children healthy and learning during the pandemic, in rental units whose poor conditions made both extremely difficult. Others stared down homelessness, unable to work or navigate burdensome rental assistance programs. More isolated and with less resources, survivors of intimate partner abuse found it even more difficult to break free. It is easy to keep the difficulties of running a growing and dynamic organization like AVLF in perspective when you have daily reminders of what our neighbors endure every day.

Our clients, like our staff, are strong and resilient. They have to be. So as they stood tall to weather these challenges, we knew we had to find a way to continue to stand with them. We knew we had to pivot – even grow in a challenging fundraising year – in order to increase our impact in the community. As they always do, our funders, donors, board members and amazing team of professionals all rose to the occasion. In a year when we could have played it safe, we took risks, we stretched, we innovated, and again saw unprecedented growth, all in hopes of making 2021 more bearable for our neighbors.

I am proud that, as you will read in this report, we found a way to do just that. Several hundred families were saved from eviction, through both our legal representation and our pivot to provide emergency rental assistance that lifted up tenants, landlords, and our local economy. Hundreds more had help asserting their rights, through our expanded courthouse-based tenant advice office, our lawyer-staffed weekend clinics that pivoted to be 100% virtual, and our nationally recognized neighborhood-based legal teams. Survivors of intimate partner abuse were reached — and helped — by one of the country’s most innovative and holistic programs, meeting them in the community, helping them access justice remotely, and providing them emergency financial assistance on debit cards that could be reloaded when a fleeing survivor needed it most.

We were again unable to thank our supporters in-person in 2021, but make no mistake – we are extremely grateful. When we were pushed to our limits, our supporters stepped in to give us the boost we needed. And with their support, we faced challenges, we pivoted, and we did figure out how to innovate yet again to have even greater impact in our community. You can read about all of that in this annual report. I could not be more proud of this nimble yet powerful team with which I have the honor of working. I think you will be pretty impressed with them too.

With Gratitude,
Michael Lucas
Executive Director

Michael’s First-Year Highlights

2021 marked Michael’s first year as Executive Director, and needless to say, it was quite eventful – full of quick adjustments in an effort to support low-income Atlantans during the pandemic and meet them where they were. While we are not able to come together to celebrate in person yet, we did not want to miss an opportunity to share some milestones AVLF achieved during last year.

Hosted First All-Star Awards

The inaugural award celebration recognized our 2020 community partners and volunteers along with presenting the Martin Louis Ellin Lifetime Achievement Award.

Launched AVLF Cup Competition

In its first year, our friendly fundraising competition among Atlanta’s law firms and corporations inspired new donors who contributed more than $150,000.

Raised $1.4 Million for Annual Campaign

The campaign exceeded all goals, making this our strongest fundraising year in our over 40-year history.

Expanded and Diversified our Team

Strengthened our administrative staff by adding a Director of Operations and HR Manager along with adding new positions to support a more community-focused Safe and Stable Families Project team.

Awarded over $5 Million in Grants

Many long time supporters and some new supporters made a commitment to ensure that our clients are safe and stable. For the first time in AVLF history, we received direct federal grant support from Department of Justice’s Offices on Violence Against Women and Housing and Urban Development.

Welcomed New Board Members

With a focus on diversifying, strengthening, and expanding the Board of Directors, AVLF welcomed new members: Brandy Alexander (The Alexander Firm LLC), Kamal Ghali (Bondurant Mixson & Elmore LLP), Ashley Heintz (Jones Day), Petrina McDaniel (Squire Patton Boggs, LLC), Sterling Spainhour (Georgia Power), and Rachel Fox Weitz (Delta Air Lines).