2021 Grunin Prize

Lawyers play a critical role in designing, implementing, and advancing models by which economic and social activity are conducted globally.  The Grunin Center administers the award of an annual Grunin Prize for Law and Social Entrepreneurship to recognize lawyers’ participation in the ways in which business is increasingly advancing the goals of sustainability and human development.

The Grunin Prize aims to reward the innovation, replicability and/or scalability, and potential impact of projects and solutions developed by lawyers to advance the fields of social entrepreneurship and impact investing. 

This year, the Grunin Prize attracted nominations from across the globe, which are representative of the extraordinary legal community of practice that is emerging in this field. Meet the 2021 winner and finalists below!


2021 Grunin Prize Winner

Beccar Varela - Trust of the Argentine Network of Municipalities against Climate Change (RAMCC Trust)

Trust of the Argentine Network of Municipalities against Climate Change (RAMCC Trust)

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Nominated legal teamsDaniel Levi, Partner; Carolina Serra, Partner; Dorothea Garff, Senior Associate; Santiago Barbarán, Senior Associate; Constanza Connolly, Counsel; Evangelina Petrizza, Economist, Head of Sustainability Department; Agostina Diana Warszawski, Junior Associate; and Agostina Coniglio, Junior Associate.

The project: The RAMCC Trust is a versatile private contractual vehicle structured by the Argentine Network of Municipalities against Climate Change (RAMCC), for the purpose of financing and investing in projects that may generate a positive environmental, economic and social impact, for the direct benefit of the Municipalities members of the Trust. This vehicle is the first of its kind in the country, enabling for several public Municipalities of different sizes and regions of Argentina the possibility to pursue and finance together significant sustainability projects, in a transparent, scalable and cost-efficient way.


2021 Grunin Prize Finalists

Morgan Lewis - Black Economic Development Fund (BEDF)

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Logo for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation

Nominated legal teams: Bob Cooney, General Counsel, LISC; Theodore Shen, Assistant General Counsel, LISC; Richard Pinner, General Counsel, LISC; Miranda Lindl O’Connell, Partner, Morgan Lewis; Celia Roady, Partner, Morgan Lewis; and Charles Horn, Partner, Morgan Lewis.

The project: Through the deployment of capital through bank deposits, bridge financing, and other financings to Black-led businesses, financial institutions, and anchor institutions, BEDF aims to create opportunities to increase access to capital and address the historical lack of credit opportunities for Black communities.


Rastegar Panchal RPCK - Dual Guarantee Facility to Finance Critical Healthcare Needs at the Front-Lines of COVID-19 in Sub-Saharan Africa

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Nominated legal team: Heather Eisenlord, Partner; Chintan Panchal, Partner; Marie Cita, Associate.

The project: The Dual Guaranty Facility (DGF) is a blended finance credit support structure that allows a diverse consortium of financial backers to coordinate their efforts and rapidly unlock capital, especially in acute situations.  The DGF utilizes and harmonizes the unique advantages that philanthropic, private and governmental/DFI actors bring to intractable challenges like the Global Pandemic. Utilizing the DGF, Malaria No More partnered with The Rockefeller Foundation, the Skoll Foundation, the MCJ Amelior Foundation and the US International Development Finance Corporation to unlock more than $30 million in loans to SME health providers, preventing the closure of an estimated 1600 health facilities throughout sub-Saharan Africa, impacting approximately 5 million patients.


Gundzik Gundzik Heeger - Little Tokyo Community Impact Fund, SPC

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Nominated legal team: Brett Heeger, Partner; Alex Glancy, Associate; and Edward Gelfand, Of Counsel.

The project: Using a combination of a unique entity type, special securities permitting, and a distinctive multi-class governing structure, the legal team at Gundzik Gundzik Heeger LLP helped design and launch a fund for the benefit of and accountable to the community stakeholders of Los Angeles’s Historic Little Tokyo for generations to come.


Morgan Lewis & Morrison Foerster - Small Business COVID Recovery Loan Funds

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Logo for Morgan Foerster

Nominated legal teams: Morgan Lewis Legal Team: Patricia Brennan, Partner, Finance; Daniel Carmody, Partner, Tax; Sarah Nelson, Partner, Tax; Paul St. Lawrence, Partner, Structured Transactions; Shira Helstrom, Associate, Tax – Non Profit; Abby Jacobs, Associate, Structured Transactions; Albert Tsoi, Associate, Finance; Peter Fisher, Paralegal. Morrison & Foerster Legal Team: Suz Mac Cormac, Corporate Partner; David M. Lynn, Partner, Corporate Finance; Mark Wojciechowski, Partner, Finance and Projects; Joseph Gabai, Senior Counsel, Financial Services; Kelley Howes, Of Counsel, Investment Management; Anthony J. Carbone, Partner, Tax; Linda Arnsbarger, of Counsel; Kaela Colwell, Corporate Associate; Jesse Finfrock, Corporate Associate; Maureen Linch, Partner, Tax; Aisulu Masylkanova, Of Counsel, Financial Transactions; Olga Terets, Corporate Associate; Michael Santos, Corporate Associate; John Tawadrous; Associate, Finance and Projects; Jeff Xu, Associate, Financial Transactions.

The project: The economic impact of COVID has been unprecedented.  One of the hardest hit segments of the US economy has been the small business community. Smaller, community-based businesses – many in low-income communities and led by women and people of color – were already suffering from decades of discrimination, lack of access to affordable capital, and an insufficient safety net.  The pandemic has only exacerbated these existing inequalities.  The Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) industry has operated for over 40 years to serve these traditionally underserved communities with capital and advisory services.  The innovative legal teams at Morgan Lewis and MoFo, working together, have built a new off-balance sheet blended finance model which allows CDFIs to grow exponentially and expand their reach to these traditionally underserved communities.  To date, three loan funds have been launched (NY Forward in June 2020, CA Rebuilding Fund I in Nov 2020 and SOAR in April 2021) and two more are in the pipeline (CA Rebuilding Fund II anticipated to launch May 2021 and the WA Small Business Flex Fund is anticipated to launch June 2021).   The NY Forward Loan Fund and the first California Rebuilding Fund have collectively originated more than 1700 loans as of May 2021, 90% of which have been to business with 10 or fewer employees, 88% with gross revenues of less than $1 million and 65% of which have been to businesses owned by a woman and/or black, indigenous or person of color.


Blue Nature Alliance, Conservation International Foundation, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds/International Eco Fund, The Pew Charitable Trusts, National Geographic Society, DLA Piper, Tristan da Cunha Government Attorney-General - Tristan da Cunha Community Fund 

Tristan da Cunha Grunin Prize Logo

Nominated legal teams: Conservation International Foundation: Andrew Schatz, Legal Advisor – Conservation Finance & Wildlife; Lee Gillespie-White, Associate General Counsel. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds/International Eco Fund: Victoria Watts, Legal Advisor.  The Pew Charitable Trusts: Jennifer Dill, Officer, Legal Affairs and Counsel; Chris Thomson, Director, Legal Affairs and Senior Counsel.  National Geographic Society: Jeanne Fink, Vice President & Senior Associate General Counsel. DLA Piper: Mei Mei Wong, Legal Director; Harry Thompson, Associate; Marie Kingston, International Pro Bono Counsel; Ann Lilienthal, Associate; Conrad Proulx, Associate; Gregory Smith, Partner; Bella Chan, Trainee, Deborah Brown, Legal Director; Serena Stangroom, Trainee. Tristan da Cunha Government Attorney-General’s Officer: Aldhelm Garner

The project: Seven donor organizations (Becht Family Charitable Trusts, Don Quixote II Foundation, Kaltroco, National Geographic Pristine Seas, Wyss Foundation, and Conservation International and The Pew Charitable Trusts, acting on behalf of the Blue Nature Alliance), joined together to establish the £4 million ($5.5 million) Tristan da Cunha Community Fund held by the International Eco Fund and administered by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds for the benefit of the UK overseas territory of Tristan da Cunha.  The parties developed a common grant agreement with uniform terms governing among other things, the endowment fund, annual disbursements, local governance, monitoring and evaluation, donor remedies, and - equally importantly - incorporating local Tristanian input and protections into the core operational structure of the fund. The fund’s establishment, economic security, and inclusive governance structure enabled the Tristan government to create the Tristan da Cunha Marine Protection Zone, which at over 687,000 km2 (or the size of Texas), constitutes an astounding 90% of the sovereign territory’s exclusive economic zone, the largest no-take zone in the Atlantic Ocean, and the world’s fourth largest marine reserve. It further serves as a model for other governments and donors to establish similar funds providing long-term economic stability for island nations, while contributing to global efforts to preserve 30 percent of our oceans by 2030.


2021 Judging Panel

The screening panel is composed of an internal prize committee that selects the finalists. 

The final judging panel is composed of NYU Law representatives and industry experts who select the Grunin Prize winner based on the submission materials, references, and a final interview.

Meet the Judging Panel below:

Portrait of Navjeet Bal

Navjeet K. Bal

As Managing Director and General Counsel at Social Finance, Navjeet works with deal teams to develop and execute innovative financings intended to scale evidence-based social interventions. She is also leading the firm’s efforts to bring an outcomes focus to financings for environmental and infrastructure projects that result in measurable public improvements. Navjeet has over 25 years of experience as an infrastructure finance attorney and a public official. As bond counsel to governments and public authorities in New England, Navjeet structured innovative bond financings to address critical infrastructure needs, including the first issue of municipal, tax-exempt Green Bonds in the country. She also represented Massachusetts in negotiating and documenting its ground-breaking Social Impact Bonds addressing juvenile justice and chronic homelessness.

Navjeet served as the Commissioner of Revenue in Governor Deval Patrick’s administration from 2008 through 2011, where she was responsible for a 2000-person agency with three lines of business: Tax Administration, Child Support Enforcement and the Division of Local Services.

Navjeet has held many leadership positions in legal, community and professional organizations, including the Boston Bar Association, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s Access to Justice Commission, the Boston Public Market and the Williams College Gaudino Fund. Navjeet graduated from Williams College and Northeastern University School of Law.

Portrait of David Goldstein

David A. Goldstein

David Goldstein concentrates his practice in affordable housing development, real estate and community development, nonprofit formation and governance, and corporate formation and governance.

As lead counsel with deep experience in structuring and advising joint ventures and complex affordable housing transactions involving numerous federal, state, and city housing and finance programs, David played a key role in the formation and early success of the award-winning Joint Ownership Entity (JOE NYC) program. He continues providing legal expertise as JOE NYC pursues additional affordable housing projects throughout the city. He is also among the members of the New York Advisory Board for the Corporation for Supportive Housing.

David has represented limited equity cooperatives, HDFC co-ops, and tenant associations in litigation and general corporate issues.

Beyond his active law practice, David regularly conducts workshops on numerous legal topics, including: affordable housing finance and development, negotiating and structuring joint ventures, Year 15 legal issues for low-income housing tax credit projects, and cooperative law. He has lectured and led workshops for numerous organizations, including the Enterprise Foundation, the Supportive Housing Network of New York (SHNNY), the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD), New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH), the New York City Bar Association, LORMAN Education Services, a continuing legal education provider, and Urban Homesteaders Assistance Board (UHAB).

Prior to entering private practice, David worked at Southern Tier Legal Services in Bath, New York and Queens Legal Services as a litigator representing tenants in eviction proceedings. While at Southern Tier Legal Services, David led the first independent study of the homeless population in Steuben County, NY.

David earned his J.D. from Syracuse University College of Law and an undergraduate degree from The George Washington University.

Deborah Burand

Deborah K. Burand

Deborah Burand is a Professor of Clinical Law at NYU Law, where she directs the International Transactions Clinic and is Faculty Co-Director of the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship. She writes and lectures on issues related to international finance, microfinance and microfranchise, impact investing, and social finance innovations such as social impact bonds, social entrepreneurship, and developing sustainable businesses at the base of the economic pyramid.

During 2010-2011, Burand served as general counsel to the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the development finance institution of the United States. Earlier in her career, she worked in the environmental sector (Conservation International), microfinance sector (FINCA International and Grameen Foundation), and US government (Federal Reserve Board and Department of the Treasury). She also has worked in private practice at a global law firm, where, among other things, she supported, on a pro bono basis, the development of the world’s first debt-for-nature swap.

Burand is a member of the board and Investment Committee of the MicroBuild Fund, an impact investment fund sponsored by Habitat for Humanity International. She is an advisor to the Linked Foundation and Social Sector Franchise Initiative. She co-founded the Impact Investing Legal Working Group (IILWG) and Women Advancing Microfinance (WAM) International.

Burand received her BA from DePauw University cum laude, and a joint degree, JD/MSFS with honors, from Georgetown University.

Portrait of Jay Grunin

Jay Grunin

Jay Grunin is Co-Founder and Chairman, Jay & Linda Grunin Foundation. Jay graduated from Brooklyn College (with honors) in 1964, and from NYU School of Law in 1967, where he was an Editor of the Law Review and where he met his future wife and business partner. After a brief exposure to academia –as Research Assistant to an NYU Law professor teaching a seminar on legislative history–, as well as a brief stint in Big Law in New York, followed by a one year Appellate Division clerkship in New Jersey, Jay, who would never have to rue about the road not taken, opted to then take the advice of his lawyer-wife who implored him to “go south young man, go south”.  And so Jay and Linda “hitched on to the second wagon train” and landed in a then small town on the Central Jersey Shore called Toms River.

After a few years, Jay and Linda decided to open up their own small “mom and pop” law firm. In the 1970s, as Ocean County became one of the fastest growing counties in the entire United States, Jay and Linda’s law practice flourished. At the same time, Jay and Linda expanded their business interests to include real estate and other investments.

In the 1990s, the Grunins dissolved their law practice so as to concentrate full time on their greatest passions, business investments and philanthropy. In 2013 their philanthropic endeavors were formalized with the creation of the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation.

Trevor Morrison

Trevor Morrison

Trevor Morrison is currently the Dean and Eric M. and Laurie B. Roth Professor of Law at New York University School of Law. He was previously the Liviu Librescu Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, where he was also faculty co-director of the Center for Constitutional Governance and faculty co-chair of the Hertog Program on Law and National Security. Before that, he was on the faculty of Cornell Law School.

Dean Morrison spent 2009 in the White House, where he served as associate counsel to President Barack Obama. Drawing on both his scholarship and work experience, he has developed particular renown for his expertise in constitutional law as practiced in the executive branch.

Before entering academia, he was a law clerk to Judge Betty B. Fletcher of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (1998-99) and to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the US Supreme Court (2002-03). Between those clerkships, he was a Bristow Fellow in the US Justice Department's Office of the Solicitor General (1999-2000), an attorney-advisor in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (2000-01), and an associate at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering (now WilmerHale) (2001-02).

Dean Morrison received a BA (hons.) in history from the University of British Columbia in 1994, and a JD from Columbia Law School in 1998. He was also a Richard Hofstadter Fellow in History at Columbia University. Dean Morrison is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Law Institute and the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2016, President Obama appointed him as chairperson of the Public Interest Declassification Board.

Portrait of Jonathan Ng

Jonathan Ng, Attorney Advisor, USAID

Jonathan has experience working in the government, NGO, private and academic sectors. He currently serves as an Attorney Advisor within the USAID Office of the General Counsel covering the Office of Private Capital and Microenterprise (PCM) and the Education Office, both within the Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and Environment (E3). Through the PCM office, Mr. Ng provides overall legal and policy guidance for Agency initiatives related to the Agency’s recent launch of its new private sector engagement (PSE) policy. He also serves on USAID’s Credit Review Board, the Agency’s internal risk review committee for all loan guarantees issued through the USAID Development Credit Authority. Prior to joining USAID, Mr. Ng was the first general counsel of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, an international NGO known for starting the modern social entrepreneurship movement. Mr. Ng began his legal career in New York at White & Case LLP in its energy, infrastructure and project finance group. In addition to his work at USAID, Mr. Ng is currently an adjunct faculty member at Georgetown University Law Center, where he co-teaches a course on law and social entrepreneurship.

Helen Scott

Helen Scott

Helen Scott is Professor of Law and the founder and co-director of the Mitchell Jacobson Leadership Program in Law and Business at New York University School of Law, as well as Faculty Co-Director of the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship. In that capacity, she has participated in the development of innovative Law and Business courses, including Investing in Microfinance, Law & Business of Corporate Governance, and Professional Responsibility in Law and Business. Scott oversees the competitive Leadership Scholars program, and runs the capstone seminar for the program, Law and Business Projects. She has been a member of the NYU School of Law faculty since 1982 and teaches a wide variety of business law courses, including the basic Contracts and Corporations courses.

Scott currently serves on the Board of Directors of IEX LLC, the newly launched stock exchange. From 1999 to 2004, Scott co-chaired the Listing and Hearing Review Council of the NASDAQ Stock Market, an independent advisory committee to the board of directors, with primary responsibility for formulating and recommending corporate governance and quantitative listing standards for that market.

In 1997, Scott received the Legal Advocate of the Year award from the US Small Business Administration in recognition of her participation in the development of the Angel Capital Electronic Network (ACE-Net) project to increase financing available to early-stage entrepreneurial enterprises. Before joining the Law School faculty, Scott practiced law in Washington, DC, and New York.