Bill Sasso, a true giant of Philadelphia’s legal sector, has served as Chairman of Stradley Ronon for the past 25 years. Known for his integrity and pragmatism, he oversees more than 200 attorneys in the firm’s eight offices across five states and Washington D.C.
Having grown up in Philadelphia, Bill has dedicated his career to this city and made remarkable impacts on the region’s legal and business communities, as well as its nonprofit organizations. His contributions to the region have been widely celebrated.
Bill received the William Penn Award, the highest honor bestowed upon a business person in Greater Philadelphia; received lifetime achievement awards from both the Philadelphia Inquirer and The Legal Intelligencer; was twice named to the Philadelphia Business Journal’s “Power 100” list; was awarded the Chairman’s Award from the USO of Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey in honor of his service to the country and his sustained support of the USO mission; and the list goes on.
Bill, an advisory board member of the Satell Institute and chair of the upcoming Satell Institute Private CEO Conference, spoke with us about the evolution of his thinking around Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the impact of CSR at Stradley Ronon.
Do you recall your first introduction to CSR and its impact on your thinking?
I think my first interaction with the idea was doing work for Holy Redeemer Health System where, even after 30-plus years, I still chair the board. They were always interested in providing care to those who needed it most. For example, given the fact that they were based in Huntingdon Valley and there wasn’t a lot of poverty in that area, they decided to open Drueding Center Project Rainbow which provides residential care and training to women and children in need in North Philadelphia. They devoted a lot of their time, energy and resources to making that a success. I was honored to be involved in that whole process.
What changes have you seen in CSR since that time?
I think that perhaps the most dramatic change is the one that has been initiated by the Satell Institute to get business leaders working together to commit their organization in a very meaningful way to CSR. I believe this is the first really concerted effort to unify the business community behind CSR. Prior to this time, everyone did their own thing and there was some effort to bring people together, but nothing as successful as what the Satell Institute has done in a very short period of time.
What role does CSR play at Stradley?
Corporate Social Responsibility has been an essential part of the culture here at Stradley Ronon for decades. I have been Chairman of the firm for roughly 25 years and I succeeded an individual who believed that giving back to the community was essential for every successful business, especially a law firm. As a result of that, I had an excellent foundation on which to build. I find that CSR not only enriches our culture, but it’s also good business.
The younger people in the office truly enjoy giving back to the community and I believe that part of their loyalty to the enterprise is based on the fact that we support their efforts in community involvement. It is one of the major reasons that we have very little attrition among staff, associate lawyers, counsel and partners.
What nonprofits have mattered to you personally?
The areas in which I have a personal interest are those institutions involved in healthcare and education. I find healthcare to be a fascinating field and a number of people in the community have been underserved. The expansion of Medicare and the provision of healthcare services in the inner city are absolutely essential.
On the educational side, there are a lot of communities desperately in need of services. When I was growing up in Philadelphia – I was born in South Philadelphia and raised in North Philadelphia – my parents instilled in me the belief that if you obtained a good education there would be plenty of opportunities awaiting you. We were told we would be able to do far better economically than they were able to do. That was certainly the truth. Whether you went to private school, public school or parochial school in the Philadelphia region, you received a good education and you were able to utilize that to better your position in life.
Unfortunately, we cannot say that today given some of the shortcomings in the educational system. I think those individuals who have benefited in the past, owe it to the kids today to get the educational system back on track. I congratulate Dr. Hite and others that work in the Philadelphia School District, but they need our assistance.
I have found that many of our lawyers – especially those who have been born and raised in the Philadelphia region – are also interested in efforts benefiting the educational community. At Stradley, we give back to a number of organizations that are involved in educating the young people of the greater Philadelphia region. For example, we support the library, inner-city schools, the Settlement Music School and various other organizations that add to the educational process in a meaningful way.
What led you to join the Satell Institute?
I thought the Satell Institute was a terrific concept – bringing business leaders together for the primary purpose of assisting nonprofits because a strong community requires a strong nonprofit community. I felt it filled a gap in CSR that was absolutely essential.
How has membership impacted you and Stradley Ronon?
I think that it really enhances the culture of the firm. That is the primary benefit. Lawyers and staff, people at all levels, feel they are involved in helping those less fortunate and it makes them proud to be part of the enterprise. It makes them proud of our culture. They like seeing our name as part of an organization providing assistance to communities and those less fortunate. I think it is part and parcel of enhancing the culture of the enterprise.
Another benefit is associating with others that either have or are trying to build a similar culture. I think it is that group association that provides the organization with a great deal of strength. A gap in CSR is being filled by the work of the Satell Institute. People want to be with a winner and this is a winner.
Satell Institute Growth Continues!
Membership at SI continues to expand with great companies and private foundations choosing to support Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Our members recognize a collective force can do more for communities than any organization can do on its own.
This week we welcome the following two new members:
Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC
Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney is a national law firm with 450 attorneys and government relations professionals in 16 offices across the country. Serving some of the most innovative and successful companies in the country, Buchanan is known for its depth of expertise, client focus and commitment to the community. The company sees community outreach as core to the firm’s mission.
For more than 65 years, Sandmeyer Steel has been the leading producer of stainless steel plate and nickel alloy plate products in North America. With headquarters in Philadelphia and customers around the globe, Sandmeyer Steel concentrates on providing value to customers through exceptional service, material availability, and advanced processing capabilities. The company is also committed to making significant contributions to strengthen communities and support employee engagement in the communities where they live and work.
The Satell Institute is supported by its own endowment and charges no fees or dues to members or the nonprofits supported.