Bob Friedman told the story of the first “Butler Koshland Fellowship” during an interview in February, 2012:
I met Lew Butler in 1971. I’d just graduated from college and taken the LSAT, but looked around the room and figured that the world couldn’t really need that many lawyers. I asked my grandfather Dan Koshland what I should do with my life he told me to go see Lew. When I asked him what Lew did, he said he didn’t know, but that “he’s like you—he wants to change the world.” I followed his advice and made an appointment to meet with Lew. He invited me to his home, made me feel comfortable immediately and made several suggestions about other people I could meet and speak with. I went home and mulled it all over, then surprised Lew by returning a few weeks later and announcing, “I know what I want to do—I want to work for you.” To which he replied, “but I don’t have a job for you.” I told him “we’ll just have to figure that out.” And we did. Lew created a special fellowship at the Health Policy Program at UCSF for me and off we went to Washington DC where we flirted with changing health policy for the country. The idea for the Butler Koshland Fellowships was born then, though it wouldn’t become a reality for twenty-five years. Although our project in DC ultimately didn’t work out because all of our funding requests were turned down, (which Lew took as an opportunity to teach me my first fundraising lesson: “No is the prelude to yes”), the mentorship did—it was a life-changing experience for me. From Lew I had gained my first experience in health policy and foundation fundraising, but more importantly I had learned that it was possible to create something new and that working on social change could actually be fun! Without the fellowship, I wouldn’t have had the strength or the sense of freedom to start my own venture, which I eventually did with the Corporation for Enterprise Development an organization I founded in 1979 to create jobs and economic opportunity for folks that are too often constrained to the margins of the economy. That first mentorship experience with Lew also helped instill in me a lifelong habit of seeking out various mentors, a practice that has been invaluable throughout my life.