Charting a new course: Area attorney makes move to the nonprofit world

By Linda Laderman
Legal News
Whether it’s in the corporate suite or working with the nonprofit community, Kim Hudolin’s professional and personal life has been driven by a commitment to social responsibility.
During her nearly 20-year tenure as in-house counsel at General Motors, Hudolin became a key member of the legal team that, in 2009, structured the government loan that would eventually help pull the Detroit automaker out of bankruptcy.

Those who were relying on GM to find a way forward were never far from Hudolin’s mind.

“We were working around the clock, but no one seemed to mind, Hudolin said. “We knew how many jobs were at stake, we knew how important it was for Detroit and the entire country that GM survive.”

In March, Hudolin, who came to GM after a decade at Honigman, Miller, Schwarz and Cohn in Detroit, left the corporate world to become the first deputy director at Cass Community Services (Cass), a Detroit based nonprofit that reaches out to a wide range of people affected by
issues like HIV/AIDs, homelessness, and mental and physical difficulties.

For Hudolin, the career change was less of a venture into unfamiliar territory than it was an extension of her legal experience and years of

“Several years ago while at GM, I was asked by our then-North American general counsel, Chris Johnson, to represent the legal staff on the board of directors of Michigan Community Resources (formerly Community Legal Resources)” Hudolin said.

“Today, I serve as the board chair for MCR.  Among other things, that role exposed me to the complexities of grants and other sources of funding for non-profits, and the knowledge I've gained at MCR helped me hit the ground running at Cass,” said Hudolin.

In addition to her pro bono work with MCR, Hudolin made time to volunteer at Cass after learning about their work through her church.

“I’d heard about Cass and the services they offered, including a rotating shelter program that moved from one place of worship to another,” Hudolin recalled. “I began coming down to serve lunch a couple of times a week because I felt that I had a responsibility to help those who had more of a struggle than I did.”

“I always thought I would like to work with Cass when I retired from GM,” Hudolin said. “I heard about the new position last fall. It came at a nice time in my life. It was several factors coming together at the right time.”

As she takes on the challenge of being the first deputy director at Cass Hudolin said her work at GM has provided her with a valuable backdrop
“Moving from GM to a nonprofit wasn't as dramatic a change as you might expect.  When individuals volunteer with a nonprofit, they often participate in the hands-on tasks of serving food or repairing a home,” Hudolin said. “For those nonprofits to remain viable, they need employees to run the agency like a business.  I'm not practicing law now, but my work at Cass still involves time sitting at a computer and drafting or reviewing some of the documents needed to keep the organization humming.” 

With just three days between her last day at GM and her first day at Cass, Hudolin said she is excited to be part of an organization that, while still dedicated to its original mission, is going further by embracing innovative ways to aid the underserved populations in Detroit.

“Under the leadership of Executive Director Rev. Faith Fowler, Cass has fed and housed thousands of individuals who might otherwise have had nowhere to go,” Hudolin said. “Now, Cass is moving beyond those basic services to provide Green Industries jobs to members of our community. Soon, we plan to begin the construction of 25 Tiny Homes near our campus that will provide the opportunity for residents to become homeowners,”

Looking ahead, Hudolin said “I'm hopeful that my presence here will help us expand our organizational capacity with respect to these and other exciting ventures, so that even more people can find safe, secure homes and move out of poverty.”