These bios are meant to accompany the related story about Supervisor Bill Horn’s Basic Faith Foundation.
Victoria B. Bjorklund is Of Counsel at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP where she founded and headed the Firm’s Exempt Organizations Group, which advises public charities, private foundations, boards, and donors.
The 2013 Legal 500 described Victoria as “[t]he highly respected … dean of the practice” in awarding both top-tier and leading lawyer rankings. In 2012, Victoria received the Vanguard Award for Lifetime Achievement and Commitment to Nonprofit Law from the American Bar Association’s Business Law Section, recognizing her distinguished lifetime achievement and role in development of the field of nonprofit law. Victoria chaired the ABA Tax Section Committee on Exempt Organizations from 2000-2002 and has since served as Co-Chair of the Subcommittee on International Philanthropy. She was honored in 2002 as the ABA Tax Section “Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year” in recognition of her 9/11 work and also accepted the “Pro Bono Firm of the Year” award from the NYS Bar Association in recognition of the Firm’s 9/11 work. She was also honored by The Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York City and Lawyers Alliance of New York, Inc. for her leadership after 9/11. In 2003, she received the Commissioner’s Award, the highest honor the Commissioner of Internal Revenue can bestow, for her “timely, creative and nimble response to 9/11’s unprecedented legal challenges.” In 2005, she received the Assistant Commissioner’s Award for her contributions to the IRS Advisory Committee. In 2010, she was named a Power Woman by MOVES Magazine and awarded the Segal-Tweed Founders Award from The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. She was a David Rockefeller Fellow for 1997-1998 as a rising civic leader in New York City.
Victoria serves on NYS Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s Leadership Committee on Nonprofit Revitalization. From 2000 – 2005, Victoria served as one of six exempt-organization members on the IRS’s Tax Exempt/Government Entities Advisory Committee (ACT), and as Chair in 2004-2005. In 2005, she received the IRS Tax Exempt Division Commissioner’s Award for “ground-breaking service” to the ACT.
From 1989 through 2001, Victoria served as a director, secretary and still serves as pro bono legal counsel for Doctors Without Borders, the emergency medical relief organization that was awarded the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize. She is also a director of the Robin Hood Foundation, where she chairs the Robin Hood Sandy Relief Fund. She is a director of the American Friends of the Louvre, the Louvre Endowment, Friends of Fondation de France, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, Princeton University, and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Victoria speaks and writes frequently on exempt-organization subjects, including “Choosing Among Private Foundations, Supporting Organizations, and Donor-Advised Funds.” She is the co-author with Jim Fishman and Dan Kurtz of New York Nonprofit Law and Practice (LexisNexis, 2d Ed. 2007 and annual supplements). She also teaches The Law of Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard Law School.
She earned her J.D. at Columbia University School of Law, a Ph.D. in Medieval Studies from Yale University, and a B.A., magna cum laude, from Princeton University, where she graduated in three years and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Victoria was the Co-Chair of the Firm’s Diversity Committee for nearly a decade and a former Co-Chair of its Pro Bono Committee.
Paul’s practice has a four-part focus. First, Paul represents tax-exempt organizations, principally in the scientific research, educational, and health care sectors. Second, Paul advises for-profit businesses on general corporate matters, including corporate organization, finance, and mergers and acquisitions. Third, Paul advises individuals and businesses in tax controversies, including tax disputes in federal and state courts. Fourth, Paul leads our firm’s effort when we are engaged to conduct internal investigations.
Paul received his law degree from the University of Houston, where he served as Editor of the Houston Law Review and as President of the Scholastic honorary. He earned his LL.M. in Taxation from New York University School of Law where he was named a Lasker Scholar.
Paul’s professional activities include service as Chair of the San Diego County Bar Association Taxation Law Section and of its Customs Law Section. Paul is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the San Diego Tax Practitioners Club, and the State Bar of Texas. He is active in the Business Law Section, and the Taxation Law Section, of The State Bar of California, and of the American Bar Association. In 1988, Paul was named a Fellow, and in 1997 a Life Fellow, of the American Bar Foundation. In 1999, he was elected a Fellow of the American College of Tax Counsel. Paul is a member of the Forum for Corporate Directors, and has authored various “Points to Consider” for directors and management. He is a Fellow of the American Board of Forensic Accounting and is registered as a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Illinois.
Paul maintains a full speaking, writing and continuing education schedule. He has served as an adjunct professor of taxation law for the USD School of Law for over 25 years, and has taught as an instructor in the UCSD Extension Program for ERISA Paralegals. His lecture credits include dozens of business and professional groups. Paul’s articles have appeared in Taxes, The Journal of Taxation, California Tax Lawyer, and The Tax Lawyer, among others. Paul has edited a column in both an industry magazine and in the San Diego Business Journal. Paul is a contributory author to the University of California Press/State Bar of California legal treatise titled “Advising California Nonprofit Corporations” and to the Lexis Nexis Matthew Bender treatise titled, “California Forms of Pleading and Practice.” In 1993 he received a Course Sequence Award in “The Business of Biotechnology” from the UCSD College of Extended Studies.
Frances R. Hill
Frances R. Hill, Professor of Law and Dean’s Distinguished Scholar for the Profession, teaches and writes in the areas of federal income tax, constitutional law, and election law. She served as the Director of the Law School’s Graduate Program in Taxation from 2001-10.
Before joining the University of Miami Law School faculty in 1992, Professor Hill practiced in the Tax Group of Jones Day in the firm’s Washington, D.C., and London offices. While in practice, she represented publicly traded corporations in a wide range of domestic and cross-border matters, as well as a wide range of tax exempt entities on issues involving complex structures and joint ventures with taxable entities.
At the Law School, Professor Hill has taught courses in corporate tax, advanced corporate tax, tax policy, taxation of exempt organizations, bankruptcy tax, and federal income tax as well as courses in bankruptcy and commercial law. Most of her teaching in tax has focused on graduate courses, most of which are open to qualified J.D. students. She also teaches Constitutional Law I, focusing on structural issues relating to balance of powers and federalism. She has taught an advanced structural constitutional law course, Health Care and the Constitution. Professor Hill also teaches a seminar on election law, which often focuses on campaign finance.
Professor Hill’s scholarship has focused on tax exempt organizations. She is the co-author of a widely-used professional treatise on exempt entity taxation, Taxation of Exempt Entities, which includes a cumulative supplement which is updated twice each year. She has written extensively on the roles of exempt entities in campaign finance, which focuses on the intersection of tax law, federal election law, and constitutional law. Professor Hill also writes on structural constitutional law, with a particular focus on issues of representation, participation, and association. Her current scholarship in constitutional law focuses on Spending Clause jurisprudence.
Professor Hill has been actively involved throughout her career in shaping tax policy relating to exempt entities. She has testified several times before the tax-writing committees of the United States Congress and before the Federal Election Commission. She has authored an amicus brief filed with the United States Supreme Court and has joined groups of constitutional law professors in signing two other amicus briefs relating to campaign finance issues. Professor Hill regularly speaks at conferences for professional advisers and leaders of exempt entities.
Professor Hill is actively involved in professional associations. An elected member of the American Law Institute, she is currently participating in the project on Ethics as a member of the Members’ Consultative Committee. She is also active in the American Bar Association Section of Taxation and has spoken frequently at Tax Section meetings on exempt organization topics as well as on working with tax adjuncts in graduate tax programs.
Professor Hill’s current scholarship is centered on a project with the working title, Charities in the Public Square, exploring the exempt entities’ relations with governments and market actors. It challenges the idea that exempt entities constitute an “independent sector” by tracing the patterns of intersection and dependence that shape exempt organizations.
Suzanne Ross McDowell serves as co-chair of Steptoe’s Exempt Organizations Group. Her practice focuses exclusively on tax-exempt organization matters and she has a particular emphasis on tax and corporate governance.
Ms. McDowell’s clients include public charities, private foundations, social welfare organizations, trade associations and professional societies, congressionally chartered organizations, federal and state agencies and instrumentalities. She has represented colleges and universities, environmental and historical conservation organizations, healthcare organizations; medical research organizations; churches and religious organizations; as well as veterans and other membership groups. She also represents corporate and individual donors to charitable organizations.
In her tax practice, Ms. McDowell assists clients with tax planning and represents clients before the IRS, courts, Congress and the Department of Treasury. Her practice covers the full spectrum of issues affecting exempt organizations, including complex organizational structures using taxable subsidiaries, limited liability companies, joint ventures, and other affiliated entities; unrelated business income tax; charitable giving and related recordkeeping, corporate sponsorships, lobbying and political activities; executive compensation; and private foundation rules.
In her corporate governance practice, Ms. McDowell advises nonprofit corporations on a broad array of governance matters including board and committee structures, fiduciary duties, conflicts of interest, potential director liabilities, and protection from liability. Additionally, she conducts confidential internal investigations on behalf of boards of directors.
Ms. McDowell has broad experience with the nonprofit sector. In addition to representation of tax-exempt organizations as a private practitioner, she served at the US Treasury Department where she was responsible for all legislative and regulatory issues affecting exempt organizations; and worked as Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for the National Geographic Society where she developed cost-effective practical solutions for a wide variety of complex legal and business issues.
Mr. Owens has represented a broad range of nonprofit organizations including private foundations, charities, U.S. affiliates of foreign charities, churches and trade associations. The context has ranged from tax planning, the process of formation and application for exemption, through IRS audits including large case or team audits and audits by the IRS Exempt Organizations Financial Investigative Units. Particular projects have involved the emerging rules for foreign grant making and organizations interested in public policy but concerned with legislative and political activities. He also is a frequent lecturer on the complex laws affecting exempt organizations.
Prior to joining Caplin & Drysdale, Mr. Owens was employed by the Exempt Organizations Division of the Internal Revenue Service for his entire professional career and served as the division’s director for the last ten years. In that capacity, he was the chief decision maker regarding design and implementation of federal tax rulings and enforcement programs for exempt organizations, unrelated business income tax, private foundation excise taxes, hospital reorganizations, college and university guidelines, political organizations, and tax-exempt bonds. He also served as the IRS’s primary liaison with other federal agencies, Congress, and state regulators on exempt organizations issues.
Awards & Rankings
- Listed in The Best Lawyers of America in the categories of Nonprofit/Charities Law and Tax Law in 2008-2014
- Recognized by The Legal 500 as a “Leading Lawyer” in Domestic Tax: East Coast in the 2011 edition and a “Leading Lawyer” for Not-for-Profit in 2013
- Listed in Super Lawyers in 2012-2013
- Ranked as a Top Lawyer in the 2009 -2012 editions of Chambers USA: 2011 –Band 3 in Tax – District of Columbia, 2012 –Band 4 in Tax – District of Columbia
- Recipient of the IRS Commissioner’s Award for exemplary service
- Selected by the NonProfit Times as one of the top 50 most influential people in the nonprofit sector in 1998, 1999, and 2001
- AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell