Our Stories

Rikki Klieman Discusses the Importance of the “Clean Out Give Back” Donation Campaign

Rikki Klieman Discusses the Importance of the “Clean Out Give Back” Donation Campaign

Maybe you’ve seen her on Tru TV as an anchor on the show “In Session,” or maybe on CBS’s Early Show or the “Today Show” as their go-to legal expert, or maybe it was on the E! Network. The fact of the matter is that you probably have seen Rikki Klieman before, either as an actor or bona fide legal expert for a number of major news networks.

As an accomplished attorney and actor, Rikki has made quite a name for herself in both fields. She received her J.D. from Boston University School of Law, and was also a theater major at Northwestern University. As a lawyer, she was named one of the five most outstanding women trial lawyers in the country by TIME magazine, and she is partner of her own law firm, Klieman & Lyons. Simultaneously, Rikki had recurring roles on the TV shows “Las Vegas” and “Shark,” and appeared in the movies “The Fighter” (2010), “Fifteen Minutes” (2001), and “A Civil Action” (1998).

In addition, Rikki and her husband, Bill Bratton, who served as the chief of police of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and as the New York City Police Commissioner, are also staunch advocates for social justice. They filmed a video in support of HRC’s “New Yorkers for Marriage Equality” campaign, and Rikki herself is an avid supporter of Housing Works’, donating countless items to help New Yorkers living with and affected by HIV/AIDS and homelessness.

I recently had the pleasure of talking to Rikki about New York City, HIV/AIDS advocacy, and how to part with a beloved piece of clothing.

-Sunny Bjerk, Housing Works’ Communication Manager

Sunny Bjerk: I understand that you and your husband have lived in both Los Angeles and New York City. What inspires you about each city?

Rikki Klieman: These are very different places. In NYC, you walk everywhere and feel the pulse of the city. Even on the same street, each day is different. NYC celebrates success and rewards hard work. LA has magnificent vistas, beautiful flora and has a more peaceful pace. LA thrives on film; NY thrives on news. I am particularly proud of the transformation from crime and disorder to a climate of safety that my husband, William Bratton, has accomplished in both cities. Nothing is more gratifying than hearing complete strangers come up and say, “Thank you, Commissioner, for what you did!”

SB: Over the years, you have donated many of your own top-quality clothes to Housing Works’ Thrift Shops, which helps New Yorkers who are homeless and affected by HIV/AIDS. How did you first hear about Housing Works?

RK: When I returned to NYC from LA in 2009, I was informed about Housing Works from my dear friend, Richard Emery. His praise of the organization caused me to learn more and when I found out what Housing Works’ mission was, I knew I had come to the right place.

SB: With so many clothing donation options available, why is it important to you that you donate your best goods to Housing Works?

RK: The plight of New Yorkers who are affected by HIV/AIDS has been overlooked in recent years. Somehow, people think that the disease has simply disappeared, but nothing could be further from the truth. Many of us simply consume too much and we could not possibly use all that we have. By donating my best goods to Housing Works, I know that those proceeds will do so much for so many who have so little.

SB: What advice would you give to someone who wants to clean out their closet to donate to Housing Works but doesn’t know quite where or how to begin?

RK: The rule of thumb is that if you have not worn something in a year, give it away. If you are really attached to a piece of clothing but have not worn it in ages, take a picture so you can remember it and then give it up. If you need help, ask a friend to look with you. I have a friend who is relentless with me! Remember this: if you think that you just might wear something in the next year, but it has been hanging in your closet or sitting in your drawer for a considerable length of time, think about the pleasure you could be giving by letting someone else wear it now.

Also, remember to go through your shoes, handbags, and costume jewelry—they can bring joy to many. Finally, if you are moving or redecorating, don’t forget your furnishings and china—your goods can give someone a whole new room!

SB: What upcoming projects or speaking engagements can we look forward to from you?

RK: You can often see me on TV on CBS, CNN or MSNBC speaking about the latest developments in legal cases of significance, and I guarantee there will always be another one. In addition, you can read my thoughts on the law and pop culture on The Daily Beast, and my book, Fairy Tales Can Come True—How A Driven Woman Changed Her Destiny at in print or on Kindle. And this summer, I am also launching a new theme on my website at, where I will continue to advise women at various stages in life on issues from “Magnificent Motivation” to “Achieving a Life of Significance.”

Your donations, like Rikki’s, help Housing Works’ provide life-saving services to New Yorkers living with and affected by HIV/AIDS and homelessness. You can learn more about donating to Housing Works by visiting our website. Become a lifesaver and donate your goods today.

blog comments powered by Disqus