Darren Dragovich’s legal mind is in popular demand, both as vice president and associate general counsel at the Western Union Company and as a volunteer with a plethora of nonprofits. As the lead legal adviser for corporate governance, securities, mergers and acquisitions, treasury, real estate, and procurement matters, Dragovich works long hours yet still finds time to give back because “lawyers have skills, education, and resources to bring to nonprofits,” says the father of four. “We have a duty to share them to help others.”
Dragovich works for the right company, because Western Union—which built its money-moving brand by serving underserved markets—actually encourages and supports him and other employees who donate their time and money. Cumulatively, more than 80 percent of its employees gave to the Western Union Foundation last year, which provides further funding to nonprofits, and the company even has an in-house attorney charged with searching out opportunities for pro bono work. “It’s a good thing to do for the people you are serving,” Dragovich says. “Pro bono work gets company lawyers out to help in the community and builds our goodwill and reputation.”
Dragovich certainly leads by example. Here are just a few of the charitable efforts he has participated in.
A Teachable Moment in India
Dragovich has donated his time and legal talents at home and abroad, including a trip to India in 2014 for a two-week executive-in-residence program for Western Union. There, he gave legal advice to a socially-driven company crafting high-end handbags and wallets from discarded plastic grocery bags. The company was training and employing poor people from the slums and had a nonprofit arm that supported a school. “Working abroad with nonprofits provides insight into the people we serve around the world,” Dragovich says. “Western Union has strong customer bases in India and Mexico, and working with nonprofits in those countries has helped me better see their daily experiences.”
Helping with Houses
Last spring, Dragovich joined other Western Union employees in a Habitat for Humanity project painting a house. “It was a great bonding experience with our general counsel,” he says.
Additionally, each October, Dragovich heads to Juarez, Mexico, for an annual church trip to build houses in an impoverished community. “Through our construction projects, I feel like I get more out of it than the people we help,” he says. “You gain a different perspective when you see how people persevere through some very difficult situations and circumstances.”
The trip comes at a busy time for Dragovich, who is still charged with filing Western Union’s quarterly report on schedule; luckily, the company allows him to work remotely from Mexico.
Shepherding the Sheltered
At home, Dragovich regularly participates in The Denver Rescue Mission Legal Aid Clinic, which gives him a more grounded perspective in his professional life. “I go every six to eight weeks to answer legal questions from people in the shelter,” he says. “We don’t act as their lawyers but consult with them on a wide range of issues such as DUI’s, child support, and Social Security benefits.”
Although Dragovich is a corporate lawyer, he can call on other lawyers with relevant expertise. “A lot of people there are battling substance abuse issues,” he says. “I’m always impressed with how they are trying to deal with their problems and correct past mistakes, even if at times that means facing legal consequences.”
He has also recently served at another nonprofit legal aid clinic, advising Lifespark Cancer Resources on various corporate matters.
Altruism at the Top
Dragovich has taken on leadership roles with other organizations, as well. As a member of the Association of Corporate Counsel, a national group of in-house counsel, Dragovich served as secretary of its Law Department Management Committee in 2015 and 2016.
Additionally, he’s a board member of Soccer Chaplains United, a nonprofit that provides chaplaincy and counseling services to the Colorado Rapids Major League Soccer team and other professional and amateur soccer teams. It also gathers donated and new soccer equipment and gear for those in need both locally and globally.
These and other charitable efforts, Dragovich says, have made him a better lawyer and person. “Although legal work is very demanding, I would encourage lawyers to participate in nonprofit work because the needs are great,” he adds. “When you start giving back, it makes you want to do more. There are things you encounter day to day on the job that you think are big problems, but working with nonprofits and people in need helps you step back and put it into perspective.”