Looking back 17 years and seeing CAALA’s future
In July of 2004 I joined CAALA as Public Relations Manager. Three months later, I wrote my first column for Advocate magazine and since 2005 I have written columns every month, first in my role as PR Manager and later as Executive Director. Let me save you the time and do the math; that’s 17 years and more than 200 columns.
A monthly magazine column is not in the job description for most Executive Directors, but I like writing and hope you have enjoyed reading the columns as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.
In June of this year, I announced that I will be retiring as CAALA’s Executive Director at the end of this year. When I retire, so will the column; so, by my count, I only have two columns remaining.
I’ll leave the emotion and goodbyes for my final column in December, but in this, my penultimate column, I want to share some thoughts with you about CAALA, both past and future.
Steve Glickman was CAALA’s President in 2006 and at the December 15 Board of Governors meeting, he introduced me as CAALA’s next Executive Director.
I remember the night well; the tone was upbeat and CAALA’s standing as a trial lawyer bar association was strong.
The turnout that night was typical of CAALA’s meetings, with 21 Board members in attendance.
I recently looked at the sign-in sheet from that night, and something jumped off the page: 10 of the attendees later served (or will serve) as CAALA’s President. The 10 are familiar names: Mike Alder, Mike Arias, Joe Barrett, Ricardo Echeverria, Elizabeth Hernandez, Lisa Maki, Phil Michels, Christa (Haggai) Ramey, Dave Ring and Geoff Wells. All have been (or will be) great CAALA Presidents and officers. If you look at the whole board, more than 20 are still in leadership and regularly attend CAALA meetings.
None of the attendees that night could have said for certain that they would one day be CAALA’s President, but they cared enough about CAALA to make it possible and volunteered their time to become leaders.
The process of identifying potential CAALA leaders continues and that brings us to the present, so fast-forward from December of 2005 to November of 2021.
CAALA’s Board of Governors has grown to 40 members, and there is more demand now than ever before to be included.
This year, 24 members expressed interest in joining the Board. That is more than the number of Board members that attended my first meeting in 2005. It shows how interest in being a CAALA leader has grown and it’s safe to say that CAALA’s leaders for the next 15 years will come from this new group of Board members.
Looking at the members who expressed interest, you can see that CAALA’s future leaders will be a cross section of racial and gender types and will also reflect diversity within their practice areas. More than a few of the applicants were women attorneys with young children, not something seen fifteen years ago.
The applicants included children of immigrants from Central America, Africa and Europe as well as African American, Arab, Asian and Latino CAALA members. Their birthplaces included Cuba, Russia, South Korea and Nigeria.
There were many whose primary practice area is not personal injury. Their practice areas included employment, appellate and investment/consumer law. Ten of the 24 applicants are women and six are people of color.
This group of future CAALA leaders is not only more diverse than CAALA’s earlier leaders, they also are different in the types of cases they litigate. These include representing victims of sexual abuse, educational fraud, whistleblower retaliation, disability accommodation, financial fraud, legal malpractice and premises liability.
The CAALA Executive Committee selected Holly Boyer, Dan Kramer, Ese Omofoma, Gene Sullivan and Shannon Ward to serve on the Board of Governors in 2022.
Holly Boyer is an experienced plaintiff’s appellate attorney with the firm of Esner, Chang & Boyer. Dan Kramer is the principal trial attorney for Kramer Trial Lawyers APC. Ese Omofoma is a solo personal injury attorney. Gene Sullivan is a 20-year trial lawyer with the firm of Sullivan & Sullivan. Shannon Ward is a partner in the Aarons Law Firm that specializes in employment cases.
I know that many members of the Board of Governors will become CAALA’s leaders in the next fifteen years, just as the ones who were Board members then became leaders in the years to follow.
I also have no doubt that CAALA’s leaders must represent the members of this Association in all ways. That means being more diverse in their practice areas, in their thinking and in their racial and gender types.
If you are interested in joining the CAALA leadership team, visit the website at www.caala.org to see how you can begin the process.
by the author.
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