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Catching up with Christine Lai

And learning about her local nonprofit, Special Education Legal Fund

GL: What is unique about your business?

CL: Special Education Legal Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing knowledge, resources, and support to families in need with children in the special education system.  We are the only organization of our kind that provides direct support in the form of grants to resource-challenged families struggling with legal and advocacy issues in special education.  

GL: What do you value most in business?

CL: I most value the individuals that I’ve met since founding Special Education Legal Fund.  The attorneys and advocates embraced the idea of Special Education Legal Fund and supported it from the very beginning - we would not be here today, five years later, without their support and friendship. I have met tremendous volunteers and supporters whose dedication to our mission makes the day-to-day possible. And finally, I most value the families who have reached out to us in times of crisis for their children seeking help, support, and understanding.  

GL: What is one piece of advice you would give to someone just starting out in your field?

CL: If you are starting a nonprofit, don’t be afraid to go out on a limb for what you believe in.  I’m not an attorney, an advocate, a legal professional, or an educator of any kind; I’m a mother of a child with autism who had an idea about helping other parents who were stuck in the special education system.  When I started out, I didn’t know anything about starting a nonprofit, raising money, or creating an infrastructure through which to support families who needed help. But now it’s been five years, and we’ve supported hundreds of families in Connecticut, New York, and beyond, and reached thousands more through our other programming. 

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