At the Pels Law Firm, we strongly believe in giving back to our community, whether that be through volunteering our time or through financial giving.  These are just a few examples of causes we support.

Andy Talley Bone Marrow Foundation

Pels Law is a proud donor to the Andy Talley Bone Marrow Foundation. Jon Pels played Football at Villanova for Coach Talley in the late 1980s. Andy Talley started this foundation upon learning that bone marrow matches for transplants were very difficult to obtain and asked his football players to volunteer. What started as a match project at Villanova has spread across the country to many collegiate programs and has helped save many lives.


Yellow Ribbon Fund Events

Jon Pels has been involved over the past years in helping to raise thousands of dollars at local Yellow Ribbon Fund Events. The Yellow Ribbon Funds serves our injured service members as they return home from battlefields by, among other things, helping to keep the family together during the critical recuperation phase.


Youth Leadership Foundation

Jon Pels has helped raise money for the Youth Leadership Foundation at the Johnny Holiday Classic Golf Tournament. The Youth Leadership Foundation builds character among youth of our Nation’s Capital by serving 350 students annually with its quality mentoring programs in seven school partners across the city.


More Ways We Give Back

There is a culture of giving back to our community at The Pels Law Firm. Our founder, Jon Pels, goes above and beyond to support charitable causes outside the office. He’s a force of energy, dedicating his personal resources and time to give back to the community and extend a caring hand to those in need. He volunteers for national and local causes, including through Catholic charities and other initiatives to support a variety of programs to support the underserved, and his band, The SHED BAND, frequently plays at area fundraisers. Since 2016, the band has supported events that have generated more than $800,000 in donations associated with a number of giving organizations. The Yellow Ribbon Fund, Wounded Warriors, and the Lilabean Foundation (pediatric brain cancer research) are just some of the charitable initiatives, not to mention galas for Gonzaga Lacrosse athletics, the Gonzaga Gala, Visitation Fall and Spring Festivals, and Georgetown Prep sports functions. Jon even sponsors students to intern at our law firm, fostering future talent, and he recently sponsored a student from Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School.

Pels Law attorney, Maria Leonard Olsen, has done much pro bono legal work for indigent individuals and organizations. She counsels women in recovery from alcohol and drug abuse and has been a foster mother to babies awaiting adoption, as well as to dogs awaiting permanent homes. Maria serves on the board of the Nepal Youth Fund and the advisory committee for GirlsUp. She served as a board member for Children’s National Medical Center BOV, the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Washington, the parish council for Blessed Sacrament Church, and the largest recovery organization in the D.C. area. She participates in volunteer efforts during her travels abroad as well, most recently at a school in Medellin, Columbia, and speaks at fundraisers for nonprofit organizations, including, which provides support to victims of childhood sexual abuse. Maria served as a political appointee in the Clinton Justice Department and was the first manager of the DOJ’s pro bono program. She also worked at the Migrant Head Start Program and the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project. As the pro bono coordinator for one of the largest law firms in D.C., Maria received the Pro Bono Coordinator of the Year award from the D.C. Bar. She is continually looking for ways to give back to her community and to the world at large.

Attorney Paula Pels has served as Co-President of the Georgetown Visitation Parents Association, and during the same period, her spouse Jon held the position of President of the Fathers Club. Together, they were honored with the Archdiocese of Washington Volunteers of the Year Award. Currently, Paula volunteers her time at the McKenna Center, located at Gonzaga College High School, where they serve meals and collect supplies for homeless men. Paula has also participated in programs to support low-income women through the Gonzaga Mothers Club. Her involvement in these endeavors allows her to assist the less fortunate while working alongside her children. The Pels family has also participated in and been in charge of a territory for the Greg Gannon Food Drive for about the past 20 years. This annual canned food drive, which occurs on the first weekend of December, benefits numerous local charities. Paula finds it especially rewarding to give time to helping others during the busy holiday season. Additionally, she actively engages in volunteer activities at her church, contributing to initiatives such as preparing food for the homeless and collecting warm clothing during the winter.

Alvaro Llosa, another Pels Law attorney, has volunteered primarily at workshops for the PBRC Foreclosure Prevention Program to provide legal representation to low-income homeowners in order to protect their rights. Additionally, Alvaro has volunteered for MD-SBA Wills for Heroes, a national non-profit organization that provides free wills, advance directives, and powers of attorney to first responders, such as police officers, paramedics, and firefighters.

Pels Law attorney, Jesus Zalaya, is a member of the Boston University School of Law Young Alumni Counsel (YAC) and is on the Young Alumni Counsel Membership Committee, which helps recruit new members to the YAC. The YAC’s mission is to enhance young alumni’s involvement with the BU School of Law community. The organization facilitates networking opportunities, promotes volunteerism and philanthropic support, and provides guidance to advance the interests of young alumni. He joined these organizations to strengthen his connection with alumni across diverse legal domains and gain insights into the various career paths available to attorneys. Additionally, Jesus Zalaya wanted to help expand the alumni network in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia areas.

Lawyer, Nina Basu, currently holds the position of President and CEO at the Inner Arbor Trust, Inc. Prior to this role, she served as the Trust’s General Counsel and has been an enthusiastic volunteer since the organization’s establishment. In addition to her work at the Inner Arbor Trust, Nina has made significant contributions to her community. She has served on the Howard County Human Rights Commission, the Diversity & Inclusion Committee of the Maryland State Bar Association, and acted as the Chair of the Long Reach Community Association. She has also been a member of the Visit Howard County Board of Directors and the Maryland Comptroller’s Business Workgroup. Furthermore, Nina has dedicated her time and expertise as a volunteer attorney for the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers’ Service, Free State Legal, and Catholic Charities of Baltimore. Her involvement extends to her previous roles as a Board of Directors and Trustee for the ACLU of Maryland, an Alumni Board Member for the University of Maryland School of Law, an Alumni Executive Council member for the McDonogh School, the Chair of the Howard County Commission for Women, and the Chair of the Zoning and Inspections Transition Team for the Howard County Executive.

Pels Law attorney, Sheri Fanaroff, served for 20 years as General Counsel for the Columbia Association, Inc., the non-profit community services corporation and homeowners association for Columbia, Maryland. She was also a long-standing member of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) and was invited to be a panelist speaker at five ACC annual meetings, addressing a number of topics, including litigation and insurance. She also served in the leadership of the Small Law Departments Network (SLD) in a variety of roles from 2015 to 2021, such as the E-Groups Chair, the Program Chair, the Secretary, the Vice Chair, and a member of the ACC’s Network Leadership Council. In 2018, she received the SLD Member of the Year award.

Nancy Pollack, a Pels Law attorney who focuses on criminal cases for the firm, is a member of the Potomac Fiber Arts Gallery, a cooperative gallery located in the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, Virginia. While this is not a strictly voluntary position because she sells her artwork through the Gallery, she has taken on additional responsibilities by chairing committees and currently managing the Gallery’s publicity. The Pels Law Firm has performed pro bono work for the Gallery, which she facilitated. Nancy Pollack’s previous volunteer activities have been centered in the arts. She has been a member of the Baltimore Symphony Chorus, the Handel Choir of Baltimore, and the Columbia Pro Cantare. Prior to joining Pels Law, Nancy clerked in the Juvenile, Felony Trial and Appellate Divisions of the Baltimore Public Defender’s Office. Following her clerkship, she put her experience to good use as an Assistant Public Defender representing juveniles and adults in delinquency and criminal court proceedings. Later, as a Baltimore Assistant State’s Attorney, Nancy served as first chair prosecutor in more than 50 jury trials in cases from auto theft to homicide, with a special assignment to felony narcotics prosecution. At the same time, interest in public service has led Nancy her to use her skills to assist pro se parties at legal help lines run by the Women’s Law Center where she supported litigants in family law cases and assisted victims of domestic violence.

Attorney, Manuel Cordovez, has worked with many nonprofits to counsel on worldwide intellectual property portfolio strategies and litigates to enforce IP rights. Manuel has been recognized by the Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts (WALA) for his pro bono work on behalf of the local arts community. WALA is an organization that provides legal services/guidance to artists in the area. While Manuel’s background/experience is in the hard IP areas of the law, working with WALA allows him to work on softer type of IP cases, while helping the artistic community in DC. WALA lists Manuel as one of their featured members for his work with them.

Maureen Higgins, the Pels Law Office Manager, has volunteered in many capacities to support local school activities. She has received an Outstanding Leadership Award from the Montgomery County Department of Recreation for running an after-school activities program at an MCPS middle school for six years. Maureen Higgins is also a member of the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) and the National Education Association (NEA).

All of these volunteer efforts play a vital role in creating stronger and more compassionate communities. The selfless dedication of our lawyers and staff at Pels Law serves as a powerful reminder of the positive impact each person can make. From supporting educational institutions to assisting charities, our staff contributes their time and resources to uplift those in need. These efforts help foster a sense of unity, empathy, and social responsibility, which is one of our goals here at Pels Law. We hope to inspire others to join a cause to create positive changes in people’s lives.