VOLS Welcomes New Executive Director

November 30, 2011

VOLS is pleased to introduce as its next Executive Director, Bill Lienhard, an extraordinary individual who will have the challenge of following in the footsteps of Bill Dean.

Bill Lienhard grew up in Hanover, New Hampshire, the son of a Dartmouth Professor of Biochemistry and a classical pianist. He graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College and Boston College Law School. After clerking for a federal district court judge, Bill was awarded a fellowship at the NLG/Sugar Law Center to represent the NAACP and several community groups in NAACP v. Engler, an environmental case brought in Flint, Michigan. He then spent two years as a staff attorney in the Housing Unit at Queens Legal Services before moving to the Urban Justice Center's Mental Health Project in 2000. In 2002, Bill was promoted to Project Director. Over the next seven years, under Bill's innovative leadership, the Mental Health Project more than doubled in size and developed several class actions that have so far resulted in more than a billion dollars in benefits and services for low-income and homeless people with mental illness. For his accomplishments, Bill was selected to serve as a Wasserstein Fellow at Harvard Law School.

We will share with you Bill's own thoughts on taking over the helm at VOLS:

"In my years of experience as a public interest lawyer, I learned that there are four words more powerful than all the decisions, statutes, and regulations since Hammurabi's Code: "Speak to my lawyer." Under Bill Dean's graceful leadership, VOLS' dedicated Board and talented staff have enabled thousands of New York City's most vulnerable residents to say these four magic words. And, when VOLS clients say, "speak to my lawyer," they aren't referring to just anyone with "Esq." after his or her name, but to lawyers from New York City's best law firms, because Bill and the VOLS Board and staff have succeeded in making a robust pro bono practice a criterion of excellence in the legal profession.

I am filled with enthusiasm and gratitude for the opportunity to further VOLS' noble mission. I look forward to working with, learning from, and listening to everyone involved with VOLS in the years to come."

Please join us in giving Bill a hearty welcome as VOLS' new Executive Director, as well as the support that has served VOLS so well through Bill Dean's tenure.