Meet Ivy!

Meet Ivy, Open Door Legal’s new Engagement Associate. Ivy learned about Open Door Legal through a family friend while she was living in Chattanooga, TN. When her friend mentioned the innovative work that Open Door Legal was doing, she jumped on our website and stayed there for two hours. “It was love at first sight.” While she had studied economic development in school and had worked in education, microfinance and community organizing before, the concept of legal aid as a long-term tool for economic and social mobility was new for her. “I was mesmerized. The stories I read about Claudia, Monica, and Alveana turned my paradigm for partnering with vulnerable people upside down and I couldn’t turn back.” From there, Ivy began a long conversation with our Executive Director, Adrian Tirtanadi, about how to be involved. The rest is history.

I truly believe that we can build a more kind community and a more just society if we take the time to listen to those who historically have not been given a voice.

As an Engagement Associate, Ivy works to draw people from outside of the organization into the mission and vision of Open Door Legal. This includes everyone from potential clients to donors. “I love my job as an Engagement Associate, because I get to bridge our clients and our partners through storytelling. I truly believe that we can build a more kind community and a more just society if we take the time to listen to those who historically have not been given a voice. This rings true each time I talk with a client or reflect with a new volunteer who, like me, have been changed by what they’ve seen.”

Our team is both gritty and empathic.

This isn’t a job; it’s a calling.

Ivy is enjoying working with volunteers, managing social media, and helping our partners engage with our mission. She is inspired by the passion she sees in each of her coworkers as they stand in the gap for their clients. “Our team is both gritty and empathic. This isn’t a job; it’s a calling. I love learning alongside them.”

Ivy comes to Open Door Legal from Covenant College, where she worked as an Admissions Counselor. When not at the office or getting coffee with donors, you can find Ivy hiking with her husband, running on the Embarcadero, or pouring way too much hot sauce onto just about everything.

Ever since childhood, our co-founder Adrian has been dedicated to reducing poverty.

He studied systemic poverty in college and went to work in the field for a few years. Eventually, he had a thesis that legal aid was the most cost-effective way to address poverty in America. He wrote up a business plan and used it to apply to law school. 

The idea was to create the country’s first system of universal access to civil legal representation that ensures everyone can obtain timely, competent legal help for any legal issue, regardless of ability to pay. That had never been done before in the history of the United States.

In law school, he met Virginia, our Programs Director. Together, they co-founded the organization, two weeks after Adrian passed the bar.

When we opened we put a sign in the window, and with just that marketing and almost no other outreach we were overwhelmed with requests for help from people with good cases who had been turned away everywhere else.

Our first year we had revenue of $35,000. We would hand shred documents because a shredder was too expensive. Despite the financial challenges, we were able to work on over 280 cases in everything from housing law to family law to consumer law in the first year alone.

The hours were extreme, the pay was low, and the learning curve was steep. Still, we persisted. We knew that almost everyone we helped was not able to receive services anywhere else. Eventually, we attracted the interest of funders. We tripled our revenue for several years in a row. In 2015, we won the Bay Area Google Impact Challenge, which enabled us to expand even more. In 2019, we secured additional funding from the city that allowed us to open two new centers in the Excelsior and Western Addition.

As of 2020, our staff has grown to 27 full-time employees. We’ve shown that universal access is possible. Now, we plan to scale city-wide, make San Francisco the first city in the country’s history to have universal access to legal help, and become a model for national replication.