Becca Chappell, vice chair of Venable’s International Tax Group, is an accomplished partner whose skills, leadership, and international experience amplify her ability to lead complex tax-related legal issues while advocating for her clients.
Becca’s leadership efforts extend beyond legal matters to the firm’s affinity group - Women Attorneys at Venable (WAVe), and the Venable Foundation Grants Committee. She is also passionate about giving back to the San Francisco Bay Area community through personal activities outside the firm. In this recent Q&A, Becca shares her experiences and commitment to community service, as well as the benefits of supporting other women lawyers.
Q. How did you become involved with WAVe and the mentorship of junior women attorneys at Venable?
A. When one of my mentors, who was both in charge of WAVe for the San Francisco office and a member of the national Steering Committee left a few years ago, I was given the opportunity to fill both of these roles. Getting to be involved with WAVe and being able to tailor it to the needs of the women attorneys in the San Francisco office has been very rewarding. I get to see our women lawyers develop their practices, advocate for themselves, and get over hurdles, which have been especially challenging over the last couple of years.
Q. Are you referring to the challenges arising from the pandemic?
A. Yes. The first time we came together at an in-person meeting post-COVID, it was emotional, and it really showed how much we lean on each other and rally for each other in this office. I’m extremely fortunate to be able to help build that space and see women flourish because of WAVe. It’s a really supportive group, and having that support helps our members feel understood and like they have a leg up. As I moved through my career and became partner, I really wanted to help ensure the next generation have it easier; that they can achieve their goals; and can help shape the future of Venable.
I also enjoy being on the national steering committee because I get to have meetings with amazing women across the firm who I wouldn’t otherwise get to spend time with. We discuss everything from current events to firm policy and how we can help women in the firm succeed. It’s pretty amazing to see the connections I forge with decision makers across the firm because of my role in WAVe.
Q. Are you involved in other activities within Venable?
A. I joined the Venable Foundation Grants Committee, the firm’s philanthropic arm, about four years ago, and what I find really exciting is the diversity of organizations we are able to support within the community. My role as a grant committee member is to help evaluate grant applications and help decide how best to allocate the money that we have.
We look at the Bay Area holistically to see where we can make the most impact, whether that’s through pro bono legal services or other areas. Since I’ve been involved, we’ve expanded more into education and healthcare, and we’re also looking at more organizations with arts and cultural aspects to fund. We’re really trying to touch on all the different aspects of the Bay Area community that make it unique and special. As the San Francisco office has grown and as we’ve brought in more people, we’ve tried to reflect their interests in the way we give and in how the foundation can make an impact.
Q. What impact do you hope to have on the community through your volunteer activities?
A. I’m hoping to advocate for women and help more women attorneys rise through the ranks at Venable, which is largely why I’m so involved in WAVe. WAVe mentorship has been a huge part of my career development, and I’ve really been able to grow my own practice with mentor guidance. So, it’s been very important for me to be able to pay that forward by helping create a sense of support, community, and togetherness for the women in this office.
More generally through the foundation and my own personal life, I want to help foster that feeling of connectivity between people at Venable and the people within their community.
Q. Has community service always been important to you?
A. Both of my parents are very active community members. My mom is an elementary school teacher in the public school system and my dad is a small business owner. I grew up always thinking that the people around me—my community—was really important, and that I’m a part of that community. My parents have instilled in me the idea that as you ascend in your career and have more resources and a greater ability to make an impact, your philanthropy should grow proportionately. So, it’s always been something that I have done, and I’m excited to be able to do from this vantage point at Venable.
Q. In what other ways do you support local philanthropic organizations and give back to the community of San Francisco, outside of Venable?
A. Animal welfare is certainly where I am dedicating more resources and time in my personal life. I am a big donor to Muttville, which is an organization that I love in the Bay Area. It is a rescue for senior dogs in the city and helps them get adopted. I am also a former adopter from Muttville, so it’s especially near and dear to my heart.
I was also previously involved with the San Francisco Elections Commission, which is a nonpartisan body that oversees the election process in San Francisco to make sure that we have fair, free, and functional elections. I first participated as a member and then served as vice president from 2021 to 2022. It was a really illuminating process to help understand all of the push and pull with local elections, especially in the last few years, as elections have become much more of a key topic in the world. Being a part of the Commission really made me feel that I was helping represent my community and community members’ interests on a more official level, which was very rewarding.