Erin Brogdon Pleased With Intersection of Legal Work, City Connections

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018 12:00 am   3 min read

Erin S. Brogdon
Partner, Wright Lindsey & Jennings | Executive Director, City Connections Inc., Little Rock (Jason Burt)

Erin Brogdon joined Wright Lindsey & Jennings in Little Rock in 2008 after working as a law clerk and then in-house counsel for Alltel Communications, and her practice has centered on corporate and nonprofit law, local government and real estate. In October she accepted the additional role of executive director of City Connections Inc., a Little Rock nonprofit.

Brogdon earned a B.B.A. in accounting from Harding University at Searcy in 2003 and a law degree from the Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2006.

Brogdon managed her father Dan Kemp’s successful campaign for chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court in 2015-16.

Tell us about City Connections. What does it do, who does it serve, what is its goal?
City Connections provides pathways for all organizations — churches, schools, nonprofits, businesses and government — to join in the belief that uniting our efforts will transform our city.

City Connections is an instant and safe relationship to link you to helpful tools and information. We participate in three distinct ways:

1. City Connections acts as an agent to distribute available strengths and assets. Finding a bed for a single parent, securing a corporate volunteer team to pack meals for the Pack Shack or connecting a church group to mentor a teen, we’re at the center of these interchanges.

2. Through our staffing agency, Operation Restore, we assemble compassionate employers to hire and invest in the men and women referred to us by faith-based drug and alcohol rehab programs. We are always recruiting more businesses to join this effort.

3. We identify areas of common energy and catalyze dialogue, cooperation and leveraging the experiences and best practices between people and organizations with shared goals.

Why did you take on the job of director? How does it mesh with your work as an attorney?
City Connections allows me to blend my passion, experience and talents with my purpose. Our people and culture at Wright Lindsey & Jennings are a major factor allowing me to blend the two roles. Their confidence means the world to me. Providing legal counsel to small businesses and nonprofits around the state offers a unique perspective and wide array of relationships. Almost daily the conversations at City Connections intersect with my law practice.

What is the thorniest problem you think nonprofits in Arkansas face? How can City Connections address that?
Operating with a scarcity mentality. We often see the impact of a cause reduced by overprotectiveness, competitiveness or narrow focus. This is reflected in the quest to chase financial resources, but we also overlook opportunities to pool operational tools. Most small and midsize nonprofits face the same day-to-day issues as small for-profit businesses, including lack of access to affordable operational capabilities, such as accounting, technology, marketing and legal. We have an opportunity in central Arkansas to be generous in organization-to-organization sharing.

What is the most common mistake you’ve seen nonprofits make?
A common mistake is that nonprofit organizations forgo opportunities to earn a profit for the valuable services they provide. Profits are what “nonprofits” need to continue growing and reinvesting in their missions. Too many organizations rely on strictly donor-funded charity. I hope that we will rewrite this narrative and apply what we know works in the for-profit sector. At the same time, I’m encouraged at the rise of impact investing models where equity investors evaluate social returns in addition to capital gains.

Do you have a personal goal for 2018?
Do more of what matters. For my family, that translates into more meals from my kitchen, more games of Monopoly or spades and more time reading and playing together.



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