By BROOKE WANSER
Gary Housepian, the executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, has announced he will be leaving the organization after 10 years at the helm.
The legal aid firm is Tennessee’s largest nonprofit law firm. It offers free legal advice and representation to individuals living in poverty, the number of which Housepian said is roughly 460,000 people in the state of Tennessee.
After graduating from the University of Detroit Law School, Housepian said he realized he didn’t know much about life.
To remedy this, he enrolled in the Volunteers in Service to America program, and helped migrant workers in Arizona. Prior to his appointment as Middle Tennessee’s legal aid director, Housepian worked as the managing attorney of the Disability Law and Advocacy Center of Tennessee.
The worst part of providing legal relief to the impoverished was whenever Housepian had to say “no,” he explained, but the best was when he was able to say “yes.”
When asked to name his proudest achievement during his tenure, Housepian shone a light on his colleagues’ achievements: “I think staff thinking of clients first, and how we treat clients,” he said. “How do we go outside our own comfort zone? I’m proud of that tradition that began before I arrived, and continues to exist here.”
The organization looks for opportunities to help those in poverty, often victims of domestic violence, climb out, “so their children can grow up and not have the cycle of poverty,” according to Housepian.
Housepian made it clear he is not retiring.
“It’s simply one of those gut feelings,” he said of the decision. “I believe life is about reassessment.”
“I see our firm at a position where it’s poised and ready for new leadership,” he continued, noting that a national search would be conducted for the organization’s next executive director.
Though he doesn’t know what his next move will be yet, he described the aim of his future path: “No matter what I do, it’s going to be devoted to my passion towards helping people have justice.”
The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands serves 48 counties from offices in Clarksville, Columbia, Cookeville, Gallatin, Murfreesboro, Nashville, Oak Ridge and Tullahoma. The Legal Aid Society is funded in part by United Way.