By Lori Thiel
Even though she has been a Partner only since April, taxation and business attorney Harriet Carter is well known among SDSVP thanks to her many years of volunteer service.
Harriet volunteers about 20 hours a month and has served on nonprofit boards for more than 10 years, completing her stint as secretary of the Tariq Khamisa Foundation’s (TKF) board just prior to partnering with SDSVP. Harriet, 67, also currently serves on the Board for The Monroe Institute, the Disabled Businessperson’s Association, the Alternative Healing Network, the Ralphs Prather Ranch Foundation, the Alain Ralphs Benson Foundation, and the Hogar de los Ninos.
“As I get older I realize it’s time for me to change the ratio of work I do for pay versus volunteering,” she explains. “I’ve been given so many gifts in my lifetime and I want to give them all back—and more—before I die in order to make the world a better place than it was when I was born.”
Two creative gifts she nurtures are painting and writing. She has completed about 30 paintings—primarily landscapes and animals—all acrylic on canvas. In 2000, Harriet published her book, “Guided Tour to the Afterlife: the Remarkable First-Hand Account of One Woman's Death and Her Adventures in a New Life After Death” which she co-authored with Susan E. Wells.
What she seems to take the most pride in, though, is her relationships, fostered through work and volunteer activities.
An attorney for 23 years, Harriet runs her law practice out of her home which is a gallery of her own artwork. She spends about an hour and a half with each of her tax clients every year. These sessions often include her homemade cookies and lots of catching up on each other’s lives. “I love my clients, and they love me,” she says of her more than 300 regulars. She attributes these long-term friendships to the nature of her practice. “I see them every year for tax season and sometimes know more about their finances than they do.”
In addition to legal services, Harriet provides her clients with an annual newsletter that includes information on such varied topics as politics, economics, science, social and cultural issues and book reviews. Harriet estimates she reads about 30 to 40 books a year and is currently reading Jonathan Alter’s “The Promise: President Obama, Year One.”
Harriet also takes pride in her seven step-children, 16 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren who all live in Ohio. “People are sometimes surprised to learn I have so many children and grandchildren. But I raised a family while I worked full-time and put myself through college.”
Harriet earned her BSBA in management and her MBA in accounting and finance from Wright State University in Dayton, OH. She earned her JD (Law) degree at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego while she worked as senior financial analyst and treasury services manager for Security Pacific Finance Corp. When she completed her degree she opened her own practice as a tax attorney and began also providing business and estate planning. She is one of the few lawyers in San Diego who have experience setting up and providing legal services to nonprofits.
Harriet is invigorated by the opportunities she sees in SDSVP. Already she has joined the Board Development Resource Team, Discovery Team, Portfolio Working Group, and Investment Working Group. “And I also joined Louarn Sorkin’s knitting and crocheting group, where we are busy making hats and scarves for charity,” she laughs.
Reflecting on her accomplishments and busy schedule, she says, “Sometimes I feel I’ve lived three lifetimes in one.”