Brian Beckon, Managing Partner (he/him)
Brian is an attorney with comprehensive experience working for nonprofits, start-ups, and publicly-traded companies. As a principal of Cutting Edge Counsel, Brian’s work is now focused on direct public offerings, entity structuring, and community capital strategies that help build a more equitable economy. Brian previously served as General Counsel for RSF Social Finance and Clean Power Finance; and before that as Corporate Counsel for Sybase and Catellus Development Corporation. He earned his J.D. from the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law and started his legal career with the North Bay law firm of Gaw Van Male. Brian is a member of the California Bar and serves on the boards of the National Coalition for Community Capital, Neto Community Network, and his local HOA.
Kim Arnone, Managing Partner (she/her)
Kim specializes in developing community capital raising strategies for impact funds, social enterprises, cooperatives and nonprofits. She works primarily on investment offerings that can be publicly offered and that are open broadly to her client’s community members and supporters. Kim has assisted a wide range of enterprises in successfully raising capital including offerings from professional sports teams, worker- and consumer-owned businesses, farms and food producers, impact investment funds and nonprofit loan funds, among others. Kim has served on the advisory boards of a variety of enterprises including a renewable energy financing company, a local business development coalition and a socially responsible ecommerce marketplace. She has served on various nonprofit boards including as chair of AIDS Legal Referral Panel of San Francisco and as a member of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce. She earned her Juris Doctorate from Hastings College of Law, where she was editor-in-chief of the Women’s Law Journal. Kim lives, works and plays in Oakland, and is committed to helping her community be vibrant, socially responsible, and inclusive.
Jennifer Duenke, Operations Manager (she/her)
Upon graduating with her Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management, Jennifer provides freelance services in the nonprofit sector in grant writing, copywriting, strategic planning and development. She is also owner/operator for her own photography business where she continues to capture family and newborn photography.
Growing up, Jennifer was heavily involved in the Marching Arts and Drum Corps International as a member of the Phantom Regiment Drum & Bugle Corps and continues that passion today as a member of their Board of Directors.
Jennifer is originally from Northern California but has called St. Louis, Missouri home for much of her life. She is married with a young son and daughter.
Erinn Brooks, Marketing and Communications Associate (she/her)
Erinn is a highly experience strategic storyteller with extensive experience in the communications and marketing field, spanning an array of industries including fashion and education. Erinn has a special admiration and passion for organizations with a mission for implementing positive change and strives to align herself professionally and personally to these types of changemakers. As a Bay Area native, Erinn aims to support and uplift local entrepreneurs and small business owners from diverse socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds while utilizing her professional background as a communicator and educator.
She is a proud alumna of San Francisco State University, where she earned her Master of Arts degree in Broadcast & Electronic Communication. In her free time, Erinn enjoys working her way through cookbooks, playing tennis, traveling and spending quality time with her family.
Sarah Kaplan, Attorney (she/her)
Sarah is an attorney with widespread knowledge and experience serving cooperatives, including worker, consumer, agricultural, and platform co-ops. Sarah also focuses on securities law, helping clients raise capital from their private networks, their stakeholders, or the public. Sarah also regularly handles legal structuring issues for businesses, general small business matters, and trademarks. Sarah previously served as an Assistant Illinois Attorney General, handling hundreds of complaints from citizens seeking to hold their governments accountable under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act.
Sarah graduated magna cum laude from Chicago Kent College of Law. Sarah has her A.B. from Princeton University and completed her degree in Bungee Science while bike commuting year-round for 13 years in Chicago. After living in Chicago for 12 years and the Bay Area for three years, Sarah moved with her spouse and two kids to the St. Louis, Missouri area, where she is renovating a home, growing a garden, and getting involved in local solidarity economy efforts. She is licensed to practice law in Illinois and California.
Nicole Motter, Attorney
Nicole Motter is one of the country’s leading experts on program-related investments (PRIs), innovative finance for foundations, and capital raising strategies for social enterprises. A lifelong change maker, Nicole spent over a decade working directly with underserved youth and communities before going to law school to pursue social impact on a larger scale. She has since cultivated a career that combines her wide-ranging knowledge and expertise in ground level program development and implementation, research and education, and corporate and impact investing law.
With an eye toward scalable, sustainable change, Nicole loves nothing more than helping foundations design exciting new ways to use their grant money. She specializes in working with private foundations to mobilize PRI capital, providing all legal and integrative services to make the process as easy and accessible as possible. She has worked with a number of foundations to facilitate PRI transactions, design PRI funds, create internal PRI policies and procedures, and assist boards and staff in integrating PRIs and other innovative financial vehicles into their existing framework. She also works with social enterprises on business model design, entity choice and formation, and funding strategy.
Randy Nye, Of Counsel (he/him)
Randy’s law practice is focused on matters relating to executive compensation and employee benefits with a special emphasis on alternative asset investing within self-directed retirement accounts and (k) plans. Randy originally cultivated this expertise while practicing at a large Cleveland, Ohio based law firm with a national reputation for its executive compensation and ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) practice group. Subsequent to this large law firm practice experience, Randy was a principal in his family’s financial services business where he engineered new concepts and created the compliant financial infrastructure to distribute them. Also during this time Randy maintained a boutique law practice focusing on “private client” issues. In addition to his “of counsel” relationship with Cutting Edge Counsel, Randy is shifting more of his professional attention to the highly complementary (to his role at Cutting Edge Counsel) consumer and producer focused cooperative design center he founded. The center seeks to promote cooperative entrepreneurship via co-op enterprises affiliated with a new platform/network Randy is designing of cooperative common bond (i.e., community) foundations.
Randy lives in the Cleveland, Ohio area with his wife, Karen, who is a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. Randy assists Karen with the business aspects of her independent anesthesia practice focusing on ophthalmic anesthesia. Randy and Karen have four adult sons who are spread between California, Ohio and Germany. They are doting grandparents to their first grandchild, Luke, who lives in the gateway to the Black Forest, Freiburg ii Bresigau, Germany.
Fatimeh Pahlavan, Of Counsel
Fatimeh is a workplace democracy and cooperatives practitioner. She sees her work through an empirical lens given her background and training as a biochemist. In her legal practice, Fatimeh provides counsel in the areas of governance, fundraising, and intellectual property. She helps organizations secure investment and build systems to support promising practices.
Fatimeh is especially committed to helping organizations capture and leverage intellectual property in a way that supports economic viability while promoting greater cooperative activity in the market.
Steven Virgil, Of Counsel (he/him)
Steven Virgil is licensed to practice in North Carolina, Nebraska, and Ohio. His practice is dedicated to representing social enterprises, cooperatives (including worker, consumer, and agricultural coops), and business entities at all stages. He has practiced law serving clients from community-based organizations to publicly traded companies since 1994. Steven maintains an active pro bono practice representing clients in asylum and special immigrant proceedings.
Steven is a tenured faculty member at Wake Forest University School of Law, in North Carolina, and is founding Director of the Law School’s Community Law Clinic, which serves community-based development needs. Prior to teaching, Steve practiced law in Cleveland, Ohio and Omaha, NE. He clerked for the Honorable George W. White, Chief Judge, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, is a former legal aid lawyer. Born in Trenton, N.J., he retains a misplaced love for the Garden State.
Julian Hill, Of Counsel (they/them/he/him)
Julian Hill is a bilingual lawyer who regularly advises for-profit, nonprofit and informal formations, including cooperatives, social enterprises, and publicly traded companies. His expertise spans across governance, contracts, securities, (limited) labor, (limited) tax, regulatory, and corporate law.
Julian holds a JD from Harvard Law School and an LL.M from Georgetown University Law Center, where they were a Clinical Teaching Fellow and Supervising Attorney with the Social Enterprise and Nonprofit Law Clinic. Julian previously supervised the worker cooperative efforts at TakeRoot Justice and advised Latin American companies as an associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. They are licensed to practice law in Georgia, New York and Washington, D.C.
René Morency, Of Counsel (he/him)
René Morency serves as corporate, estate planning, and tax counselor and trusted advisor. He counsels business owners throughout all phases of the business lifecycle, especially mergers and acquisitions. He keenly understands the intersection of closely-held business and estate planning.
Mr. Morency earned an M.B.A. with a Finance concentration, LL.M. in Taxation, and J.D from Washington University. He has learned from the legal teams of several Fortune 500 corporations, across multiple vertical industries. Prior to law school, Mr. Morency was consultant to private foundations, charitable trusts, large corporations, and private equity.
He brings to bear his enthusiasm for and competence in law, tax, finance, and strategy, in service of his clients, from his St. Louis office. Rene understands that our clients’ successes are the measure of our success. Rene recognizes that revenues follow relationships.
Mr. Morency routinely speaks on substantive CLE panels nationally, state-wide, and locally. His authorship spans Section 336(e) elections, valuation, bias, lawyer well-being, and more. Mr. Morency calls himself an “unapologetic law geek who also loves math AND people.” And he holds special gratitude for family, the arts, and the outdoors.