OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Verleana Green has her hands full, as her three-year-old daughter Victoria keeps the busy mom on her toes. On a recent sunny afternoon, Green watched Victoria bounce around her miniature trampoline.
“This little one is smart,” said Green of her precocious little girl as she watched her play. ” She is going to go very far in life!”
And Green has gone far in life, too. She started her own law practice when she was just 27 years old.
” I started [it] because I wanted to make a difference in my community,” said Green.
It’s a community this Oakland native has dreamed of helping since she was just a teen. Back then, Green saw her own family struggle financially. At times they had no food in the house.
“We would have to wait until school started the next day and go to school and get food there,” said Green at the time.
But through it all, Green thrived. At McClymonds High School, she was captain of the school’s cheerleading team and valedictorian of her class in 1998. Then she was off to college, followed by law school. Her law work is mostly virtual now but it’s her past days in probate court that showed Green a new way she could help her community.
One day, in court she and a fellow African American lawyer made an astute observation: most of the individuals in court with probate concerns were Black.
“I looked around and saw [this],” recalled Green. “And I joked about [it], but my colleague, he said ‘ Verleana, do you notice something? We’re the only black people in the room who are professionals.'”
Green soon discovered that many African Americans don’t have estate plans, and when they pass away the assets they do have are often tied up in probate court.
“They didn’t understand it’s because maybe their parents, maybe their grandparents didn’t plan appropriately and you end up in probate court,” explained Green. “So it was important to me to make sure that people have the information, and that I was giving something for back for free.”
So in 2014, she founded Estate and Retirement Planning Specialists, a non-profit that focuses on generational wealth-building for African Americans. Pre COVID-19, Green held yearly informational summits, and she spoke frequently at schools, community events, and churches.
“Traditionally for African Americans, that is where we get our information,” said Green of her speaking engagements at local churches. “So it was important that I made that connection.”
Now with the pandemic ongoing, Green plans on holding future events virtually. She and her husband, Lebnir, are now awaiting baby number two – also a girl – who no doubt will have her mom’s can-do attitude.
“You can take any situation and turn it around,” advised Green. “That’s what I did with my own life.”