Advisor Profile: A Conversation with Nikki Kerman

February 21, 2023

At CCF, we’re fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with advisors that have a strong personal interest in philanthropy such as Nikki Kerman.

Nikki is counsel in Venable’s Nonprofit Organizations and Transactional Tax groups in Los Angeles. Nikki focuses her practice on advising tax-exempt organizations, such as public charities and private foundations, on a variety of complex tax, regulatory, and governance matters, including the formation of new organizations, the termination of private foundation status, charitable solicitation registration, and the avoidance of excise taxes. She frequently advises for-profit clients and individual donors on matters such as commercial co-venture campaigns and domestic and international grantmaking, and assists high-net-worth individuals with charitable giving and estate and business succession planning. A respected advocate, Nikki is adept at managing a myriad of matters critical to maintaining successful tax-exempt operations and navigating her clients through the most challenging and nuanced issues to position them to tackle large projects with far-reaching impact.

Nikki is also the West Coast Deputy Chair of the Venable Success Network, the firm’s affinity group designed to empower Black attorneys through fostering and promoting strong professional networks and educational initiatives. In addition, she is a member of the Hiring Committee for Venable’s Los Angeles office, as well as a workflow coordinator for Venable’s summer associate program. In these capacities, Nikki takes an active role in recruiting new associates and in the creation and cultivation of inclusive and progressive workplaces for her colleagues. She is involved in the legal professional community as a member of the American Bar Association Section on Taxation and former president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Exempt Organizations Committee. In addition to her professional obligations, Nikki serves on the Board of Trustees of Baltimore Educational Scholarship Trust (B.E.S.T.), a nonprofit organization that provides financial and academic support to low-income, academically ambitious Black students attending independent schools in the Baltimore area, and is an alumni of Teach For America.

We sat down with Nikki to discuss the value of giving and the vision she has for the future of LA.

Q. Why is it important to give back? Why is philanthropy important?

It is important to give back for several reasons. In part, we have a massive wealth disparity in the US so there are large groups of people who are in need, and philanthropy is able to help cover the gaps where government is lacking. Bottom line is people don’t have access to resources that they need, and a lot of times, it’s through no fault of their own. Philanthropy helps those that otherwise may not have access. It has the potential to be a rising tide that lifts all boats.

Q. What issues are you passionate about?

One area I’m most passionate about is children’s issues, especially when it comes to education. Unfortunately, in many low-income communities, children do not have access to a decent public school education, and parents cannot afford the tuition of a private school. I’m a firm believer that what you’re exposed to as a child can really impact your trajectory in life. It’s so important that we find ways to level the playing field for children in the education system and give them as much opportunity as early as possible.

Q. What do you see as one of the biggest challenges facing LA?

We are all well aware that LA has exorbitant housing costs and a very large, unhoused population. It is really disheartening to see the lack of compassion for individuals experiencing homelessness and people treating the issue as something to be hidden out of sight. We need to focus on finding solutions and providing those impacted with the services they desperately need.

Q. What’s your ideal vision for LA’s future?

Giving all children access to a robust public education and finding a reliable safety net for people experiencing homelessness.

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