2023 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, potential impact, and replicability and/or scalability of projects and solutions developed by lawyers to advance the fields of social entrepreneurship and impact investing. 

The Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship is made possible through a generous endowment from NYU School of Law graduates Jay Grunin ’67 and Linda Kalmanowitz Grunin ’67, and the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation. Jay and Linda have dedicated their philanthropic endeavors to investing in innovative projects that have measurable impacts creating meaningful, transformative change.


The 2023 Grunin Prize 

The 2023 Grunin Prize will be awarded at a special ceremony on June 6, 2023 in New York City. This ceremony will take place as part of the Annual Conference on Legal Issues in Social Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing—in the US and Beyond, which is co-hosted at NYU School of Law by the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship and the Impact Investing Legal Working Group.

The 2022 Grunin Prize attracted nominations from across the globe, which were representative of the extraordinary legal community of practice that is emerging in this field. Learn more about our 2022 finalists and winner here.

Why apply for the Grunin Prize?

Grunin Prize finalists receive recognition from a global community of lawyers, academics, policymakers, and other impact professionals. Finalists are invited to participate in the annual IILWG/Grunin Center conference to showcase their projects in front of hundreds of conference attendees. Past finalists and winners have also received media exposure.

See submission guidelines below and complete your submissions by Tuesday, January 17, 2023. For any questions or concerns related to the Grunin Prize, please contact the Grunin Center at law.gruninsocent@nyu.edu.



Eligibility Criteria:

The Grunin Prize is open to individual lawyers or legal teams from across the globe. Practitioners, legal educators, policymakers, in-house counsel, and other legal teams that develop an innovative social enterprise or impact investment solution using existing law, legal education, or new legal structures are eligible to apply.

• The Grunin Prize will recognize inputs, such as new uses of old laws or reframing of the conceptual framework surrounding the law, and outputs, such as the development of a new legal structure or organizational design.

• The nominated project must be completed or implemented on or before December 31, 2022. Only projects that have been completed or implemented within the past year will be considered.

• Examples of the types of legal projects that may be submitted for consideration includes: innovative financing, contracting or entity structure, enacted legislation or adopted model laws, or design of new legal courses or tools.

Qualifying projects will be evaluated against the following criteria: innovation, potential impact, and replicability and/or scalability.



To apply for the Grunin Prize or to nominate another party’s project, please complete the Grunin Prize submission form

• Applicants and nominators can submit more than one project for consideration. A separate submission form must be completed for each project.

• Applicants and nominators are welcome to resubmit a previously nominated project that did not receive the Grunin Prize.

• If nominating another party’s project, nominators must coordinate with nominees to ensure all required information is provided in the submission form.

• Supplemental materials will not be accepted. However, as needed, applicants may be asked to provide additional information for consideration by the judging panel.

• Once notified, finalists will be expected to (i) participate in an interview with the judging panel on June 5, 2023 and (ii) liaise with the Grunin Center to coordinate a communications plan and develop a Grunin Prize video.



January 17, 2023: Deadline to complete submission forms.

April 29, 2023: Finalists will be announced.

June 5, 2023: Finalists will meet with the judging panel.

June 6, 2023: The Grunin Prize will be awarded at a special ceremony.


2023 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:

Professor of Clinical Law at NYU Law & Faculty Co-Director of the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship

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 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.


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.


Portrait of Jonathan Ng

Jonathan Ng

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.


2022 Grunin Prize Winner (TNC)

Steve Valdes-Robles

Steve Valdes-Robles is a Senior Attorney responsible for advising The Nature Conservancy, including its NatureVest unit, on impact investments and its Office of Investments on the management of TNC’s endowment. He was the lead attorney on a number of ground breaking transactions, including the Belize Blue Bondthe Cumberland Forest Project and TNC’s Green Bond.

Prior to joining TNC, he was a foreign service legal officer for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where he completed tours in Washington, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Mozambique.  At USAID, he advised on a wide range of matters, including conservation, development finance, agriculture, water and sanitation, health and education. Before USAID, he was a corporate attorney at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP where he spent time in the New York, Hong Kong, Moscow and Frankfurt offices. He also worked as an international visiting attorney at the law firm Barros Letelier y Cia in Santiago, Chile. 

Steve holds a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame, a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and is a member of the New York bar. 


Distinguished Scholar and Senior Fellow at the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship

Maria Santos Valentin 

Maria Santos Valentin is the Distinguished Scholar & Senior Fellow at the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship. Prior to joining NYU Law School, Maria Santos Valentin served as the General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of The Rockefeller Foundation where she managed the Foundation’s legal, grants management and records departments.  During her tenure, she helped effectuate the foundation’s historic $700 million bond offering and created the foundation’s public charity (RF Catalytic Capital) to aggregate capital for foundation-managed projects, including the Pandemic Prevention Institute and The Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet which obtained over $1 billion in funding. 

Prior to that, Maria worked at the Open Society Foundations, most recently serving as Legal Director of the Economic Justice Program and Secretary and General Counsel of the Soros Economic Development Fund.  In this capacity, she structured and negotiated the fund’s more than 40 innovative program-related investments around the world, primarily in Central and Eastern Europe, India, Africa and the Middle East, which totaled over $200 million. The investments focused on increasing financial inclusion and improving the lives of smallholder farmers, refugees and migrants.  Projects included the creation of over 300,000 affordable housing units in South Africa and establishing a wholly-owned holding company (Aspada) to make investments in small businesses in India.   

Prior to her work at private foundations, Maria worked for 10 years as an international corporate securities lawyer, first for New York based law firm Brown & Wood and then UK based Clifford Chance. In that capacity, Maria worked on emerging market capital markets transactions in Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America, many of which were the first such issuances out of the country, including Spain, Romania, Argentina, and China. In addition, she worked for two years as a senior commercial associate with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, where she helped structure a small business lending program.

Maria was also appointed to the Water Board of New York City by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, serving in that role from 2003 to 2008.  Maria is a member of the New York Bar and the American Bar Association and holds a B.A. in Economics from Fordham University and a J.D. from Yale Law School.