Q&A with Legal Aid of Marin's East Bay Resident Stephanie Haffner
Legal Aid of Marin turns 60 this year and welcomes a new executive director, East Bay resident Stephanie Haffner.
What led you to join Legal Aid of Marin?
Legal Aid of Marin’s board has given me the opportunity to do what I went to law school to do: engage in community-grounded legal services. In my prior position as litigation director at the Western Center on Law and Poverty I was invited to work with Legal Aid of Marin on a variety of housing issues and frankly fell in love with the work there is to do and the communities organized to do it.
Why is Legal Aid successful?
Legal Aid of Marin doesn’t receive federal legal services funding, so we can assist all of Marin’s low-income residents without regard to immigration status. That is critical. Without federal funding restrictions, we can choose the advocacy tool that’s appropriate to the legal problem. All of that helps position Legal Aid of Marin to fight for an inclusive Marin for people from all walks of life — families, seniors, immigrants and people of all racial and economic backgrounds.
What are the hardest challenges Marin’s underserved communities face?
Although new to the position and still learning, I’d say accessible housing for all and enforcement of legal and human rights for immigrants stand out.
How do you plan to move Legal Aid of Marin’s mission forward?
Funds are our lifeblood. The local bar association historically has been very supportive, and we will be building on its support as well as bringing in new support from area businesses and from lawyers who live in Marin but work elsewhere. We’ll be building on our strengths: our skilled bilingual staff with over 90 years of legal experience combined, the goodwill of all our community partners, and our tenacious, committed board members.
Favorite Marin spot to gain renewal and hope?
Any locally owned coffee shop or bookstore, plus anywhere in the company of the people of goodwill who work daily to make Marin a just and equitable place. Abbotts Lagoon at Point Reyes National Seashore and the Steep Ravine Trail from Stinson Beach are favorites to clear my head.