Lopez Lens: Lucy Morillo
Marile Lopez sits down with one of "People En Espanol's" most powerful women
Philanthropy and charity are both wonderful but they’re not the same. While each generous, performing a charitable act involves shorter term support for an immediate demand. Philanthropy is about creating fundamental change, focusing on an entire cause for a long duration in hopes of making a permanent and lasting transformation. Organizations, private donors and foundations – including The Marile & Jorge Luis Lopez, Esq. Family Foundation, which focuses on causes, not organizations — are on the front lines of philanthropic impact. Through innovative fundraising and new funding models, these independent but interconnected entities will empower and effect community and global changes.
In Miami, Chapman Partnership embodies positive transformation. Chapman serves homeless residents by providing empowering services that motivate them to become self-sufficient and build positive futures. One of the organization’s many outstanding support resources it the Social Enterprise Academy, which incorporates comprehensive workforce and job skills training. Chapman Partnership collaborated with FIU to launch – in the vision of Chapman president and CEO Symeria Hudson – the recently completed Chapman Partnership Downtown Miami Center for Social Enterprise Academy Workforce and Trade. It is a 14-week program teaching the construction trades and providing graduates with nationally recognized certificates and support for job placement. Lucy Morillo, Esq., President of LM & Associates provided ongoing consulting when it came to the project’s development.
Morillo is an attorney with 25 years of experience in institutional advancement and nonprofit management who’s led many successful and innovative public and private fundraising initiatives. In 2016 People Magazine -People En Espanol named Morillo as one of the 25 Powerful Women in the US. As a nonprofit consultant, she’s a strong advocate and committed supporter providing her over 20 clients with the essential strategic tools and industry best practices.
I sat down with Morillo and asked her a few questions:
Marile Lopez: How was the Social Enterprise at Chapman originated?? What was the process/collaboration like with Symeria and her team?
Lucy Morillo: As a consultant, nothing is more exciting than supporting social impact projects such as this one. The Social Enterprise Academy is part the new vision taking shape in the last two years, at Chapman Partnership. The organization truly serves as a model for serving homeless individuals and fast-tracking them to self-sufficiency. We supported this concept by creating a sustainable philanthropic business paradigm to encourage individuals, corporations, and foundations to support the effort. The process has been incredibly rewarding, both professionally and personally. Social enterprising is a promising approach to fulfilling unmet needs while at the same time seeking social impact, financial and environmental sustainability. It is a win-win for all.
M.L.: These are uncertain times for nonprofit organizations. How has your fundraising model(s) pivoted to adapt?
L.M.: Many consultants focus on best practices/industry standards and develop a “one size fits all” approach to their clients as a result. Then COVID-19 hit, and all best practices went out the window. Without a clear playbook, LM&A Consulting had to take an individual approach to each one of our clients and assess each one’s own unique challenges and opportunities. Helping each organization lean into their mission and communicate their impact and responsiveness has been pivotal to our clients’ fundraising success during this period of uncertainty.
While we often think of “first responders” during crisis moments, there are many organizations providing vital secondary and tertiary services. Chapman Partnership, for instance, provides vital services to individuals experiencing homelessness due to loss of employment or eviction— that’s an important secondary response to this crisis. Consider the many arts organizations who are creating beauty to inspire us during this challenging time— that’s vital to recovery.
M.L. Your firm has provided essential tools, strategies and guidelines for many organizations in our community -what has been the most challenging yet rewarding?
L.M. In March of this year, LM&A Consulting worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami to provide strategic leadership during a particularly challenging time for their organization, as they faces staff transitions and simultaneously planned for their largest fundraiser of the year. LM&A Consulting was able to help provide an objective, steady hand to support volunteer management, fundraising strategies, while maximizing their events bottom line for the organization. LM&A Consulting helped to turn a challenging situation into a beautiful and lucrative event in four short months. Talk about impactful change!
M.L. You and your firm are highly regarded as leaders in nonprofit consulting-what is one key element of your success and of your clients’ successes?
L.M. We are living in an on-demand, highly individualized culture, so why should any client accept a cookie-cutter approach from their consulting agency? Because LM&A Consulting is a boutique agency, we have the flexibility to change and adapt to client’s needs quickly, and tailor our approach to the unique needs of each client. Furthermore, there is a pervading misconception that smaller, boutique consulting firms like LM&A Consulting lack the resources to adequately support clients. To address this misconception, we have a remarkable team to support almost every aspect of for-profit and non-profit strategy, from financial services, to marketing/communications and beyond. This individualized but expert approach has resulted in high-level client satisfaction and retention.
Nonprofit are also asking government for help. Chapman has a well-known collaboration with MDC-Homeless Trust.
M.L. What would you as an experienced leader and past President & CEO of one of MDC largest children’s hospital like to see government do to further assist nonprofits??
L.M. It is important that lawmakers think beyond the immediate impact of proposed policy and consider the ripple effects of their actions. For instance, the Homeless Trust is funded largely by tax revenues from restaurants and tourism. Regardless of where you stand on re-opening businesses and dining, lawmakers need to consider how to mitigate the impact of this loss of funding and its subsequent effects on the homeless population in Miami-Dade County. Honest, open communication and partnership, along with reasonable guidelines for non-profit accountability, will help to strengthen the relationship between the public and non-profit sectors and effect lasting change.
Marile Lopez is the Chief Financial Officer at Jorge Luis Lopez Law Firm, a governmental affairs firm representing Municipal Governments, Florida 100 and Fortune 500 companies at the federal, state and local levels. As CFO, she manages the financial reporting, income taxes, account receivable, drafting of contracts, and investments for the firm. Prior to joining the firm in 2006, Mrs. Lopez founded and was creative director for Maria Elena Headpieces, a successful million dollar bridal accessory company which designs, manufactures, and sells products to high-end international wedding boutiques.
Mrs. Lopez also dedicates time to serve the community through leadership roles in a number of organizations. She is Chair of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s South Florida Executive Committee, whose initial focus is to host the 2020 Legends for Charity Dinner (NFL Super Bowl LIV). She is also Chair of FIU’s Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs Dean’s Advisory Council, where she is leading her 2nd — multi-million dollar capital campaign as part of “Next Horizon: The Campaign for FIU”. She also serves on the board of Chapman Partnership, Boys and Girls Club of Miami-Dade, FIU President’s Council, and the American Red Cross. She has served as Chair of Miami Children’s Hospital (MCH) Foundation, on the Board of Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and the Miami Children’s Health System Board, as well as on the Board of American Cancer Society’s Miami-Dade Unit.
Marile Lopez and her husband, Jorge Luis Lopez, Esq., are widely known for their philanthropic work in our South Florida community. They have received numerous awards for their exceeding dedication, including the 2017 Power Couple by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami, 2015 American Red Cross Philanthropy Volunteer of the Year Award, the 2014 Charles “Bebe” Rebozo Humanitarian Award from the Boys & Girls Club of Miami-Dade, the 2013 James W. McLamore Volunteer of the Year Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Marile received in 2018 the MDC Parks Foundation in the Company of Women Award, the Take a Walk in her Shoes Award by Chapman Partnership, and the Woman of the Year Award by Miami Women Who Rock. In 2017, she received the Philanthropy Award by Fairchild Botanical Gardens, and in 2016, she was the recipient of Torch Award – Community Leadership Professional Achievement Award by Florida International University, the American Red Cross Spectrum Award, and the Women of Substance & Style Award by Buoniconti Fund. In 2015, Marile received the Woman of Distinction and Caring by Plaza Health Network, and in 2014, the Women of Faith with the Virtue of Charity Award from the Archdiocese of Miami, Mujeres Giving Back Treasure by The Woman’s Fund, Women Who Have Influenced the Community with Outstanding Charitable Causes by Neiman Marcus-Coral Gables, Miracle Maker by Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the Hispanic Leadership Philanthropy Award by the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Marile was also the recipient of the Inner Circle of 12 recognition from the American Cancer Society in 2013, and St. Jude Honors in 2012.
Mrs. Lopez received her Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix, Bachelor’s degree in Health Services Administration from Florida International University, and Associate’s degree from Miami-Dade College.
Marile and Jorge Luis Lopez, Esq., have five children: AR, Carli, Annia, Saramelia and Luis Jorge. They all reside in Coconut Grove, Flo