About Public counsel

  • Public Counsel is the largest public interest law firm specializing in the delivery of pro bono services in the country. Founded in 1970, it is dedicated to advancing equal justice under law and addressing economic, racial, and other inequities by delivering free legal and social services to the most vulnerable members of our community. Through a pro bono model that leverages the talents and dedication of thousands of attorney and law student volunteers, Public Counsel assists families, children, immigrants, veterans, and nonprofit organizations, and addresses systemic poverty and civil rights issues through impact litigation and policy advocacy. Public Counsel’s activities are far-ranging and impact a wide spectrum of people who live at or below the poverty level. Public Counsel operates eight legal projects:
  • Children’s Rights
  • Community Development
  • Consumer Rights
  • Homelessness Prevention
  • Immigrants’ Rights
  • Veterans’ Rights
  • The Audrey lrmas Project for Women & Girls’ Rights
  • Public Counsel’s impact litigation project, Opportunity Under Law
  • A staff of 71 attorneys and 50 support staff along with over 5,000 volunteer lawyers, law students and legal professionals assist over 30,000 children, youth, families, and community organizations every year. Public Counsel operates with a $15 million budget and a 79-person board of directors and a 30-person Executive Committee that meets on a monthly basis with delegated authority to act on behalf of the board.  Corporate revenues are generated through contributions, grants, government contracts, attorney fees and investments.

Commitment to Equity and Inclusion

  • In Spring 2017, Public Counsel launched an equity and inclusion initiative to improve policies, practices, and behaviors with the goal of ensuring a welcoming and fair working environment for all staff, and an environment where all staff voices are valued, regardless of economic class, position in the organizational hierarchy, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, nationality, religion, body type, age, or any other characteristic. Public Counsel retained AORTA (Anti-Oppression Resource and Training Alliance) to conduct an equity audit of the organization’s internal practices, provide a daylong, all-staff training, and produce a report. The report included 43 recommendations, a number of which are in various stages of implementation.
  • This ongoing initiative is being implemented by senior management in partnership with the staff Equity and Inclusion Committee (EIC). This ten- to fifteen-member committee is intended to reflect the diversity of the entire staff in terms of projects/departments, position in the organizational hierarchy, and demographic characteristics.
  • For more information on Public Counsel, please visit http://www.publiccounsel.org/.


  • Now in its 48th year of operations, Public Counsel seeks a mission-driven, strategic, and solutions-oriented Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to join its executive team to lead the organization’s financial operations. This is an ideal opportunity for a seasoned, hands-on finance and administrative professional with the drive and enthusiasm to continually enhance, modernize, and measure the finance and accounting environment to ensure that Public Counsel continues to be an exceptionally strong mission-driven, community-focused organization well into the future.
  • Reporting to the CEO and overseeing a $15M operating budget, the CFO will lead the Finance team (currently including a Director of Finance, Staff Accountant, an Accounting Clerk and a Database Coordinator) in planning, budgeting, accounting and reporting on a diversified funding stream, including donations, private grants, government contracts, attorney fees, and investments. A primary function of the role will be to work effectively as a thought partner to the CEO, Board of Directors, and executive team to set goals and direction, manage emerging strategic and operational issues, facilitate cross-department collaboration, and nurture the organization’s culture and values.
  • The CFO will serve as a key resource across constituents and will be highly effective in translating complex financial data into understandable concepts that allows for effective decision making. With impeccable interpersonal skills, the CFO will establish and cultivate excellent working and meaningful relationships with staff, the executive team, board members, external partners, and vendors.

Key responsibilities

  • Promote and ensure a culture of financial transparency, consistent communication, and meaningful collaboration with colleagues.
  • Oversee all accounting and finance activities for the organization, and ensure accounting procedures are in compliance with GAAP and nonprofit best practices.
  • Provide analysis and recommendations to inform program decisions, new initiatives and the allocation of resources.
  • Lead annual budgeting process, regularly review income and expenditures against budget, and work with Project Directors and senior management team to manage budgets and financial results.
  • Conduct regular financial analysis; prepare reports by collecting, analyzing, and summarizing information and trends
  • Participate as a member of the senior management team, staff the Board’s Investment, Finance and Audit Committees, and attend and present at Executive Committee and Board meetings.
  • Monitor expenditures to ensure compliance with all federal, state, and local government requirements as well as public and private grantor and donor requirements.
  • Oversee day-to-day accounting practices, and ensure that month-end close is efficient, timely, and accurate.
  • Generate and regularly update cash flow forecast.
  • Prepare and/or review billings to funding sources.
  • Serve as primary contact for auditors, and oversee the annual audit process, including preparation of supporting documentation, draft audited financial statements and tax returns.
  • Create and oversee a strong control environment for the organization, including planning, updating, and managing internal controls and fraud prevention systems, key policies and procedures, and train staff on the importance of such controls.
  • Collaborate with the Development Department on government and private grant budgets and reporting.

Core competencies

  • The ideal candidate will be strategic and results-driven, with strong leadership skills and a proven record of success in positions of progressively greater responsibility. This leader will have a robust background in finance, accounting, internal controls, financial planning and analysis, forecasting and reporting, cash management, and audit and compliance. This individual will also have strong relationship-building capabilities; impeccable verbal and written communication skills; and a solutions oriented approach to challenges.
  • The successful candidate will bring previous experience as a CFO for a midsized nonprofit, with at least 7 years of management experience in a similar or related finance and administration role. The CFO will have the business savvy, applicable financial and administrative expertise, and sound judgment needed to establish trust and credibility with the Board of Directors, executive team, staff, and external partners. A natural change agent, the CFO will have the opportunity to direct, innovate and improve systems in a proactive and hands-on way. The CFO will be a nimble and strategic doer, and a strong people manager, and will bring thoughtful, well-reasoned perspectives based on industry best practices. It is preferred that candidates are licensed CPA’s; an MBA or other advanced financial or business training is highly desirable.
  • Ideal candidates will have the following core competencies, personal qualities and qualifications:

Strategic Leadership & Management

  • A key member of the executive team, the Chief Financial Officer will have the ability to develop and implement clear, action-oriented, innovative strategies aimed towards elevating the overall financial functions of Public Counsel. Critical to success in this role, the CFO will be flexible in adjusting as priorities emerge and change, and will be a nimble problem-solver, able to prioritize and balance multiple tasks efficiently and effectively. The CFO will have a high level of business acumen and judgment, with the ability to make practical, realistic, data driven, and timely decisions. The CFO will be entrepreneurial and collaborative in analyzing and planning for large-scale change, including with Public Counsel’s financial systems and tools, reporting, and technology systems, working closely with the COO to implement effective solutions.
  • An experienced hands-on manager, the CFO will have a collaborative and inclusive leadership style with a successful track record of creating high performing work environments. This individual will be a strong leader who engenders trust in the staff. The CFO will have demonstrated success in building, nurturing, and retaining a strong team of professionals that is focused on excellence, accountability, and efficiency. A thorough and transparent communicator, the CFO will demonstrate the ability to provide clear expectations and accountability measures for staff deliverables. A true team player, this individual will be willing to roll up their sleeves and work with staff to get the job done.

Expertise in Finance and Accounting

  • The CFO will have had strategic oversight over finance and accounting operations with a measurable track record of success in developing and implementing strategies, policies, and processes. This individual will be knowledgeable of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) for nonprofits and of financial management and accounting, including cost/benefit analysis and financial modeling, legal, audit, compliance, and budgeting. The CFO will proactively identify and implement solutions to improve programmatic and financial results. This executive will understand and provide key financial advice and counsel around strategic and tactical decision-making, along with administering day-to-day financial functions at a high level.
  • The CFO will serve as a thought partner to Public Counsel’s Board, CEO, and executive team, providing reasoned, metrics-based, focused insight on overall organizational strategy as well as various initiatives in a clear, collaborative manner. This executive will bring a successful track record of working closely with development departments to provide budgeting and reporting for government and foundation grants, as well as to accurately track estate, planned, and multi-year campaign gifts. This leader will be technologically savvy with proficiency in computerized accounting packages and the ability to partner with IT staff to develop and implement new processes and systems to increase efficiencies and ensure accuracy. Experience with Financial Edge and Raiser’s Edge is strongly preferred. This leader will be skilled at evaluating, developing, reengineering, and recommending financial policies and procedures and will advocate strongly for financial controls.

Relationship Building, Collaboration, & Communication

  • The CFO will have excellent people skills and will lead by developing strong working and interpersonal relationships across all levels of the organization. With strong facilitation skills and an openness to various communication styles, the CFO will possess the ability to communicate effectively with diverse constituencies who may not have a background in finance, including the Board, executive team, staff, and external partners. Service-oriented, the CFO will effectively share information with the Board and relevant committees, keeping them and others up-to-date on matters related to overall finance and operations priorities or needs. The CFO will be able to synthesize divergent views and coalesce all constituents around a shared plan, and will work to establish regular, structured communication across the organization.

Passion for the Mission

  • The CFO will have a passion and commitment for the mission, history, and work of Public Counsel, and will understand how the role of CFO contributes to the overall mission. This individual will have a sincere commitment to equity and inclusion, and will be dedicated to advancing these organizational priorities. A transparent leader, the CFO will influence the culture and impact of Public Counsel through the modeling and adoption of best practices. This executive will be an individual of unquestioned integrity, ethics, and values, treating others with respect.


    • Public Counsel has engaged Koya Leadership Partners to help in this hire. This search is being led by Michelle Bonoan and Medelene Beasley. Please submit a compelling cover letter and resume here, or email Michelle or Medelene at the following:
  • Michelle R.S. Bonoan
  • Managing Director
  • mbonoan@koyapartners.com
  •   Medelene Beasley
  •   Principal
  •   mbeasley@koyapartners.com
  • Public Counsel is an equal opportunity employer.  All qualified applicants shall receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, ethnic group identification, ancestry, sex, age, marital status, political affiliation, condition of physical or mental disability, gender identity or sexual orientation, in accordance with requirements of Federal and State laws. All qualified applicants with criminal histories will be considered in a manner consistent with the requirements of the Los Angeles Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring.  

about koya leadership partners

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital-consulting firm that works exclusively with nonprofits and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them. For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit www.koyapartners.com.

Chief Financial Officer
Tagged on: