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VIP in Action Published April 1, 2020

A Changing of the Guard

Dear Philadelphia VIP Community:

First and foremost, we hope that you and your loved ones are safe and well. The current public health crisis, and its far-reaching impacts, has us thinking often of VIP’s community – our volunteers, clients, and supporters – and reflecting on the web of mutuality that links us.

I am writing today to share an important update from VIP, whose team continues to work tirelessly to support our clients and volunteers.

In early March, VIP’s Executive Director, Sophie Bryan, accepted a newly-created, policy-focused role at the Pew Charitable Trust’s Philadelphia Research and Policy Initiative. While we are sorry to see Sophie go, we are grateful for her leadership of VIP since June 2017, and wish her success at Pew working on issues that matter for our client community.

I am pleased to share that VIP’s Board of Directors has selected Rida Haq, VIP’s Director of Volunteer Engagement, to serve as Interim Executive Director effective April 8, 2020.

In her five years at VIP, Rida has been a stand-out team member, serving for the past two years as our Director of Volunteer Engagement and as a member of VIP’s Management Team. Based on her demonstrated leadership skills, deep knowledge of VIP’s program, and strong working relationships with multiple key stakeholders, Rida is exceptionally well positioned to lead VIP over the coming months and we’re deeply grateful to her for taking on this critical role.

Rida will be aided by VIP’s Managing Attorney Kelly Gastley and Director of Operations Karna Laubenstein, and has the enthusiastic support of VIP’s dedicated Board of Directors.

At this moment of transition, with the added complexity of the COVID-19 pandemic, VIP will benefit from the positive momentum generated last year, its strong staff team, and your ongoing support and partnership.

We had a banner year in 2019, placing 1,000-plus cases with volunteer attorneys for the first time in VIP’s history; adding multiple team members; securing new funding sources; strengthening our internal operations; and debuting a revamped website, with new tools and resources for volunteers, clients, and supporters.

Appreciating the significant impact of the ongoing public health crisis – and, amidst it, the imperative of focusing time and attention on matters critical to ongoing operations in service of our clients and volunteers – the Board is assessing the timing of launching the search for the next Executive Director. We will update VIP’s community when the search launches and welcome your suggestions of stellar candidates.

In the meantime, we remain focused on our mission of expanding access to justice and, as ever, are deeply grateful for your partnership in that important effort.


Alex Braden
President, Board of Directors