For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see.
After Snowzilla in January and the winter weather that chased us into April, our overdue Spring finally arrived. And in the Spring, of course, a lawyer’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of a new bar year! So, that’s not exactly the familiar line that appears later in Tennyson’s poem, but maybe you see where I’m heading. Each Spring begins a new bar year, for which a new bar president prepares with equal parts anticipation and trepidation. Mine began just a week ago, and will stretch across a year of newsletter columns, Bar Luncheons, Executive and other committee meetings, work sessions and events where I hope to meet and work with many of our 2500 members. Treasurer Ron Canter also began the term for which he trained last year by serving as Assistant Treasurer. Our newly elected Secretary, Bibi Berry, and six new Executive Committee members join us, along with the six members you elected in 2015. This team is both held aloft and firmly grounded by Julie Petersen, our steadfast and well organized Executive Director.
As officers and directors, we do little more than direct the prism through which the ideas and energy of our entire membership passes to produce the full spectrum of programing and events—“all the wonder” the bar year will be. (I can dream!) The basic blueprint is our new Strategic Plan. It identifies new goals beyond those recently attained, which included funding and completing the major renovation of our building, and establishing our own Leadership Academy (now entering its fourth year) and our Community Outreach Committee to cultivate co-sponsor affiliations with Special Olympics and other nonprofits. We will continue to use our versatile C-IT (Creating an Improved Tomorrow) program to address serious new or growing problems in our County, including the heroin/opioid crisis and seemingly endless need for pro bono services that now includes growing numbers of children who arrive here after escaping violence, abuse and neglect in Central America (more on that in future columns). Our leader in updating the Strategic Plan has been Jim Mood—now our President-Elect. The new Strategic Plan should be well underway when I pass the gavel to Jim in 2017. During the coming bar year, Jim will be well situated to fine tune the Plan with his committee, focusing on ways to enhance the features and benefits that make membership indispensable to all of us, while adopting new modes and styles of communication to make our membership more accessible and visible.
Visit the “Leadership” section of the BAMC website (your best source of quick info), and you may still see John Kotter’s quote:
Mr. Kotter is not the teacher and title character in the ‘70’s TV show “Welcome Back Kotter” (Oops, there went half of the readers). He is a teacher, but he also is a visionary who has authored a dozen NY Times bestsellers on change management and leadership. He started teaching at the Harvard Business School in 1975, three years before “Welcome Back Kotter” premiered. The show lasted only four seasons, but four decades later John Kotter is still teaching business leaders to change. That our association is led by an annually changing group of elected leaders doesn’t mean it will make annual changes sufficient to remain relevant to our members and draw in new ones. Our one-year terms may have the opposite effect, tempting us to avoid change. But leaders must “cause change” to meet ever-changing conditions in their world, whatever world that may be. We cannot follow a time-tested roadmap when the roads are constantly under construction (think Northern Virginia). If our roadmap becomes obsolete, the BAMC will face extinction. When we reach our goals, it’s time to set new ones. So, back to my bar year. John Kotter tells us that leaders do not just “establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there,” but “along with everyone else, [they] sacrifice to get there.” This year I won’t just write columns and give kudos or pep talks to “motivate and inspire” you to do the work of our association. I will do the work alongside you to get there. And thanks to our Strategic Planning Committee, I am confident that we will be going in the right direction.