WHO WE ARE

Meet the Team

Roberto Randazzo, President

Roberto is the President of esela – The legal network for social impact and a Partner at R&P Legal, an Italian independent law firm.

He has a background in commercial and business law, Roberto’s advises non-profit organisations, philanthropists and social businesses in several respects, including on transactions and the establishment of legal entities in both the domestic and international markets, with a focus on emerging markets. Roberto has recognised expertise in impact investing, as an advisor to impact investors and social venture funds.

Roberto is a professor at TIRESIA Politecnico di Milano (“Technology and Innovation REsearch on Social ImpAct”) and a member of faculty of MIP (Politecnico Graduate School of Business, Milan).

His knowledge of social impact and business and human rights is internationally recognised as a member of the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment’s ‘Special Working Group on the Impact Economy’, the International Bar Association’s ‘Presidential Task Force on the Rise of Impact’, the IBA Business and Human Rights Committee and the impact investment focused ‘Social Impact Agenda for Italy’.

In 2012, Roberto was appointed the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Uganda to Milan and Northern Italy.

Julie Wynne, Vice President

Julie is the Vice President of esela – The legal network for social impact, and a Partner of Froriep SA, is specialised in non-profit organisations and social enterprises. Julie’s work for charities, B Corps and social enterprises includes structuring, fundraising, tax advice and governance. She also advises in particular international charities on cross-border structures.

Julie is admitted to practice in Switzerland since 2007. She is very committed to the promotion of social enterprise and sustainable finance: she is a co-founder and Board member of the Swiss Impact Enterprise Association and member of the Legal Committee of Sustainable Finance Geneva. She is also active in various cultural institutions as well as in not-for-profit organisations.

Sarah Dobson, Executive Director

Sarah is the Executive Director of esela – The legal network for social impact, a global network of lawyers, advisors, academics and business leaders working to create a sustainable economy that promotes positive social impact.

Sarah runs esela from the offices of Bates Wells, the first UK law firm to become a B Corp, where she was Impact Economy Manager from 2018-19. Sarah is a Fellow of On Purpose, the profit with purpose leadership programme, through which she worked at Big Society Capital in 2017-18.

Sarah has a background working for justice charities as Head of Trusts at Support Through Court and Trusts Manager for African Prisons Project. She holds qualifications in Law and English, and has been called to the Bar of England and Wales. Outside work, Sarah is chair of trustees of KDC Theatre, a central London arts charity.

Constanza Connolly, Board Member

Constanza Connolly is senior associate of Beccar Varela, Argentina.

Her practice areas include corporate law and mergers and acquisitions. She has broad expertise in developing businesses seeking positive social and environmental impact and its financial structuring, including social impact bonds.

Constanza founded the firm Impact business and together with a group of professionals provide strategic and legal services at the cutting edge to the rapidly growing impact economy.

She is a member of the Task Force created by Argentina- Uruguay to promote impact investment in Argentina. She is a member of the Latin America Committee that brings together the B Lawyers of the region to promote the B Corporations.

Anne Contreras, Board Member

Anne is Of Counsel with Arendt & Medernach. She dedicates her activities to microfinance and social impact projects, advising specific domestic and international clients on the corporate and regulatory aspects of the creation and running of microfinance and social impact investment schemes.

She is chairing the board of the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP) and is a member of the Policy Committee of the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA). She participates in several other initiatives such as the European Impact Investing Luxembourg (EIIL) and the Responsible Investing Committee of ALFI.

Marleen Denef, Board Member

Marleen is founding partner at the only law firms in Belgium specializing in a full service to social enterprises, international associations and impact projects: impact lawyers/advocaten/avocats.

Marleen combines both an academic appointment (as professor KU Leuven-campus Brussels where she teaches a specific course on associations and foundations) and a practice as a lawyer.

Marleen focuses mainly on advising not-for-profit organisations such as (international) associations, foundations, social purpose companies as well as cooperative companies, active in all types of (inter)national activities from healthcare, education, professional federations, to social economy initiatives, CSIs, NGOs and alike.

Her 20 years of expertise relates to all types of organisational questions such as choice of legal form, optimal set-up of activities and group-structures, (public private) partnerships, mergers, network organisations, governance, D&O liability… as well as to litigation concerning these matters.

She is a frequently invited speaker at workshops and seminars and author of many publications. She participates to many networks and shares her opinions on public fora such as LinkedIn and Twitter (@denefmarleen).

David Dowling, Board Member

David Dowling is an associate in the corporate and private equity group of Ropes & Gray. David has a wide range of experience advising clients on M&A transactions and providing general corporate law advice.

David also maintains an active pro bono practice with a focus on impact investing and social enterprises, as well as social welfare issues, and is a board member of Esela. David lectures on the law of international private equity finance on the LLM at King’s College London.

Luke Fletcher, Board Member

Luke is a Partner at Bates Wells, a leading English law firm in the fields of charity, social enterprise and social impact investing.

As well as advising on the full range of activities carried out by charities and social enterprises, areas of focus include designing innovative legal and constitutional structures and acting for a wide variety of clients with an impact oriented business model or who are making or managing impact investments.

Luke has worked on many of the most significant developments in the growing impact investing market. He has been involved, through his work for the European Commission and the UK Government and through various sector initiatives, in helping to shape policy and practice in areas as diverse as community interest company regulation, social investment tax relief and the impact investing powers of charities.

Alissa Pelatan, Board Member

Alissa Pelatan, founder and Partner at AMP Avocat, is a member of the California, District of Columbia and Paris Bar. After working at two international law firms and as in-house counsel for a public European company based in Paris, Alissa founded a boutique law firm in Paris France specialized in social enterprise law and social entrepreneurship. Alissa also teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on comparative business law, social enterprise law, corporate social responsibility and European International Private Law. Living and working in various countries including the United States, Africa and France, Alissa brings a unique perspective to solving legal issues. She primarily helps social clients with issues relating to setting up a social enterprise, corporate governance, project finance in Africa and CSR ventures.

Melissa Manzo, Board Member

Melissa is General Counsel at AgDevCo, an impact investor focussed on agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa. Melissa sits on AgDevCo’s Executive Committee and chairs the Smallholder Development Unit sub-committee of AgDevCo’s board of directors.

Prior to joining AgDevCo, Melissa worked at Allen & Overy (London and Rome offices), where she founded its microfinance and social investment group and spent time on secondment to the Emerging Markets Desk at Citigroup.

Melissa actively participates in several impact investing networks.

Bates Wells, Secretariat

Bates Wells provides the secretariat of esela – The legal network for social impact

Bates Wells is a leading, City-based, professional services firm, combining a UK Top 100 full services law firm. Renowned for work for both public interest bodies and commercial organisations,  work for NGOs, not-for-profits, socially-focused investors and other impact organisations represents around 65% of work across the whole firm.

  • The first and still the only UK law firm to achieve B Corporation certification
  • Recommended for 15 different areas of law in Chambers UK, 2019

Bates Wells work encompasses many of the major developments in the UK Impact Economy and social investment space, including

  • the design of community interest companies and social investment tax relief,
  • advising the UK Government Inclusive Economy Unit on governance options for inclusive and purpose-driven businesses, and
  • the creation of the statutory social investment power for charities.

Bates Wells is a responsible business and unique in its ethos and values, being the first and only UK law firm to certify as a B Corporation. B Corps are purpose-driven businesses that use business as a force for good, and are required to be independently audited to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.

Impact Economy clients value their approach as commercial lawyers who understand not only their socially-focused motivations but also their need to be commercially successful in order to achieve these aims.

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