Annual Meeting

Three candidates vie for 2017 ABA treasurer spot

Three candidates have emerged in what has become a contested race to serve a three-year term as ABA treasurer starting in 2017.

The candidates made their first formal presentations to the Nominating Committee on Sunday during the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago.

Michelle A. Behnke, Timothy W. Bouch and Kara I. Smith announced their candidacies only within the past couple of weeks after James Dimos withdrew as the only declared candidate when he accepted an ABA staff position as deputy executive director. Dimos, a past president of the Indiana State Bar Association, will start in his new position on Aug. 31.

While the race for treasurer will be contested, it is not expected to be contentious. Contests for ABA officer positions, when they do occur, are low-key affairs, especially since they are decided primarily by the 68-member Nominating Committee, which places a high value on civility in its deliberations and decisions.

Behnke is principal of Michelle Behnke & Associates in Madison, Wisconsin. She is a past president of the State Bar of Wisconsin and a past member of the ABA Board of Governors. She currently serves in the House of Delegates. As state delegate from Wisconsin, she is a member of the Nominating Committee.

Bouch is managing partner at Leath, Bouch & Seekings in Charleston, South Carolina. He is a member of the Board of Governors and the House of Delegates, and he is a past chair of the ABA Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section.

Smith of Moore, Oklahoma, is an assistant state attorney general. At the ABA, she is a member of the Standing Committee on Technology and Information Systems.

The committee will select one of the candidates in February at the 2016 midyear meeting in San Diego, and the committee’s choice is virtually assured of being formally elected by the House of Delegates in August 2016 at the annual meeting in San Francisco. After election, the nominee will serve for a year as treasurer-elect, then serve a three-year term as treasurer starting at the close of the 2017 annual meeting in New York City.

Dimos, meanwhile, described his move to the ABA staff as “an exciting chance to devote all my energies to the association and its members. The chance to do this full time excited me, and I felt it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

ABA Executive Director Jack L. Rives said Dimos is an important addition to the staff leadership. “He’s coming on board because of his special background, skills and capabilities,” Rives said. Dimos will have direct management responsibility for seven staff departments (including the ABA Journal). Bringing in Dimos made it possible to implement a restructuring of senior management so that the number of people reporting directly to Rives can be reduced from 22 to 11. Dimos will be one of that reduced number of direct reports.

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