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Meet the Candidates

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We asked all the candidates for leadership positions the same three questions: What is the reason you decided to serve the association as a leader? What plans do you have for your term in office? And finally, what is a positive experience you’ve had as a member of the ABA?

Patricia Lee Refo

Photo of Patricia Lee Refo courtesy of Patricia Lee Refo



Partner with Snell & Wilmer in Phoenix. Chair of the House of Delegates and member of the Executive Committee (2014-2016). Chair of ABA Day in Washington (2016-2018). Chair of the Section of Litigation (2003-2004) and member of its Executive Committee (1994-2010). Chair of the Standing Committee on Membership (2008-2011). Chair of the American Jury Project (2004-2005) and special consultant and member (2005-2014). Member of the American Bar Endowment Board of Directors (2009-2014). Member of the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Evidence of the United States Judicial Conference (2000-2006). Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education. Received JD from University of Michigan School of Law in 1983.

Reason to serve: “I think being engaged in the practice of law for this many years is, frankly, the most important preparation for leading the ABA. Because that’s what we do.”

Kevin L. Shepherd

Photo of Kevin L. Shepherd courtesy of Kevin L. Shepherd



Partner with Venable in Baltimore. Member of the Board of Governors since 2016. Chair of the Finance Committee and member of the Executive Committee. Liaison to the Task Force on Gatekeeper Regulation and the Profession, serving as its 2010-2015 chair. Member of the House of Delegates since 2011. Chair of the Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law (2005-2006). President of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers in 2010. Member of the Anglo-American Real Property Institute. Received JD in 1984 from University of Baltimore School of Law.

Reason to serve: “My financial background. I am the chair of the finance committee at Venable, and I have chaired that committee for the past 20 years. I think I can bring that experience and expertise to bear on the challenges facing the ABA in the financial arena. Plus, in addition to that, I feel very strongly that the ABA needs to maintain its primacy in advocating for an independent judiciary and maintain the rule of law. We need to do that, and to do that, you need to be financially strong. I am rather passionate about that.”

Plans for term: “I want a couple of things. I want to focus on the efforts to make the new membership model a success. We need to grow dues revenue and that’s one vehicle to do that. The other thing, I think we need to be more strategic in our budgeting process and perhaps work toward a multiyear budgeting process. That’s down the road. That’s long term.”

Positive experience with the ABA: “Can I say more than one? One is the ability to work with a group of immensely talented lawyers from around the country, from different geographic areas, different practice disciplines, different backgrounds. It’s so incredibly enriching to work with them on a daily basis. A second thing, I think from a policy perspective, is our efforts to address the gatekeeper-related issues dealing with what is the role of a lawyer in detecting and combatting money laundering. The way we have proactively tried to address that in the U.S. legal profession, both from a regulatory and a legislative standpoint, and also domestically and internationally. It’s been a very enriching experience to deal with a lot of stakeholders in that process—governmental officials, other bar associations around the world—it’s been quite an experience.”

William K. Weisenberg

Photo of William K. Weisenberg courtesy of William K. Weisenberg



Attorney in Columbus, Ohio. Member of the House of Delegates since 2006. Chair of the Standing Committee on Governmental Affairs. Chair of the Standing Committee on Judicial Independence (2008-2011). Retired senior policy adviser and assistant executive director for public affairs, governmental relations and diversity initiatives for the Ohio State Bar Association. Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. Trustee of the Ohio State Bar Foundation. Member of the Supreme Court of Ohio Task Force on Access to Justice. Received JD in 1969 from New York Law School.

Reason to serve: “I think through my experience in working with the ABA and also with the Ohio State Bar Association through my career, I have a pretty good understanding of association work. I have a pretty good understanding of member value and relevance, and how an association can be of value to its members. I think giving back to my profession, participating in enhancing the legal profession and our service to our members and our public.”

Plans for term: “The most important is being a constructive member of the board and enhancing the profession. Not one person can do it all, it’s a team effort. It’s working in collaboration with the board, the committees and sections of the association, working well with the state and local bar associations and understanding there is a collaboration that we need to engage in. Further, how we expand access to justice for the citizens of this country, the people. I think in any way that I can contribute to that as a member of the board based upon my experience hopefully will be of assistance.”

Positive experience with the ABA: “Serving as chair of the Standing Committee on Judicial Independence was a fairly significant matter. I’ve always been very interested in my career in dealing with the courts and dealing with issues affecting the public’s perception of the value and importance of our courts and democracy. Efforts to enhance public understanding of the role of the judiciary is a very important responsibility and function of the organized bar. A number of the projects we engaged in during my time on the committee, as both a member and chair, were devoted to those efforts.”

Laura Bellegie Sharp

Photo of Laura Bellegie Sharp courtesy of Laura Bellegie Sharp



Owner of The Sharp Firm in Austin, Texas. Member of the House of Delegates (2009-2018). Trustee of the National Conference of Bar Foundations (2011-2018). President-elect nominee of the State Bar of Texas in 2017, serving as chair of the Insurance Trust Board (2012-2014) and member of its Board of Directors (2004-2007). President (2003-2004) and member of the Board of Directors (1998-2003) for the Austin Bar Association. Member of the Texas Board of Legal Specialization Board of Directors since 2014. Life fellow of the American Bar Foundation. Received JD in 1986 from Baylor Law School.

Reason to serve: “I was leaving the House of Delegates because I had been serving as a representative of the Austin Bar Association for about nine years. ... But I really was thinking I would like to do something else with the American Bar Association. I was talking to some of the other delegates with the state bar at the [ABA Annual Meeting] last August. They suggested that this position was opening from Texas/Florida and thought it would be a good thing for me to do. I didn’t have a strong sense the entire time that I was in the House that I wanted to be on the Board of Governors. That didn’t really occur to me. But it was an opportunity that opened at a time that I was able to take it. That is the way a lot of things happen in life.”

Plans for term: “Having sat in the House of Delegates for so long ... I am concerned that the American Bar Association maintain its vitality. I absolutely agree with the notion that we represent the lawyers of America, whether or not they choose to be members. The American Bar Association is headed in the right direction, and I’d like to help continue to direct it that way. We need to stabilize our finances and make sure we are offering member benefits that are appreciated by the members, meaning that they understand that they are there and utilize them. I ran for state bar president two years ago, and I literally met 9,000 attorneys during a 2½-month period. It was amazing to me the number of attorneys who were asking for member benefits.”

Positive experience with the ABA: “The thing that is amazing to me about the American Bar Association is the welcoming nature of it. I don’t know that people who don’t go to the meetings can understand that. Along with that, the networking opportunities it has afforded me both for my practice area as well as for leadership.”

Patrick G. Goetzinger

Photo of Patrick G. Goetzinger by Earnie Grafton



Partner with Gunderson, Palmer, Nelson & Ashmore in Rapid City, South Dakota. Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division director and section council member (2001-2004). Past president of the State Bar of South Dakota (2011-2012) and South Dakota Bar Foundation (2016-2017). Member of the South Dakota Bar Foundation Board of Directors and founder of Project Rural Practice in 2011. Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and American College of Real Estate Lawyers. Received JD in 1988 from University of South Dakota Law School.

Reason to serve: “It’s my rural state perspective and bringing the lessons I learned from launching Project Rural Practice, a successful program in a rural area on access to justice. Having that proven experience on access-to-justice issues in rural areas is a good story to tell and to keep in front of our ABA leaders as we talk about the future of the organization and how we serve our members.”

Plans for term: “Effective advocacy on behalf of our district and members of our district. I don’t have a specific program that I want to see passed or a specific issue that I have in my shortlist of things to do, but I want to deal with the issues brought before us and bring a rural state perspective to those issues.”

Positive experience with the ABA: “It is absolutely the interaction with the ABA leadership on Project Rural Practice. I remember it vividly: giving my three-minute report to the Jackrabbit Bar in Red Lodge, Montana, where we talked about launching Project Rural Practice, summarizing what the program is and what we were intending to accomplish. Fortunately, in the audience, I had Linda Klein, James Silkenat and Bob Carlson. They all marched up after my presentation and said, ‘You hit us right in the heart with this deal.’ They said, ‘You need to bring this to the House of Delegates, would you be willing to work with us on a resolution to be brought to the annual meeting in Chicago in the summer of 2012?’ I said absolutely, yes. That gave us a national audience for Project Rural Practice. Having the story to tell up to that point in time about the ABA’s support through their resolution, and it being an important issue to not only South Dakota lawyers but all lawyers, and tying it to access to justice themes that were being developed across the state and across the nation, it created a sense of urgency and additional credibility for why we need this kind of practice.”

Beverly J. Quail

Photo of Beverly J. Quail courtesy of Beverly J. Quail



Retired partner at Ballard Spahr in Denver. Member of the House of Delegates (2002-2018). Chair of the Presidential Appointments Committee (2017-2018), Steering Committee of the Nominating Committee (2012) and Select Committee (2009-2011). Chair of the Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section (1999-2000). Member of the Rule of Law Initiative Council Committee since 2018. Fellow and past Colorado state chair of the American Bar Foundation (2011-2013). Received JD in 1974 from University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

Reason to serve: “I had the chance several times, but I was always working too hard to feel that I could do a good job. I recently retired from my law firm and I thought I finally have the time to do a good job. I wanted to do it because I think the ABA, like all special organizations, faces a lot of challenges and I think I can help guide the ABA because I’ve worked with young lawyers at my law firm. I know what they want. I have a daughter who is a lawyer, and I know what millennials want or don’t want. I hope I can help steer the ABA in the right direction and increase our membership.”

Plans for term: “The biggest thing that I and probably everyone else would like to see is the ABA increase its membership so we represent more lawyers than we currently do. But I would also like to see the ABA increase its support for the Fund for Justice and Education and for ROLI. I think that young lawyers do want to feel that they are making a contribution and that they are making a difference. I don’t think they just want to bill hours. I think those two entities do great things and that young lawyers, if they knew what they were doing and could participate with what they’re doing, they would feel more enthusiastic about the ABA. There are a lot of things those organizations do that no one even knows about.”

Positive experience with the ABA: “Probably the most positive experiences I’ve had are attending the Spirit of Excellence Awards. That’s my favorite thing. Whenever I go there, I feel so proud that I’m part of the ABA. To see one of the young law students get the award that the ABA gives is really wonderful.”

Charles J. Vigil

Photo of Charles J. Vigil by Earnie Grafton



President and managing director of Rodey, Dickason, Sloan, Akin, & Robb in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Member of the House of Delegates since 2006. Chair of the Drafting Policies and Procedures Committee (2018-2019). Member of the Standing Committee on CLE (2016-2019), Rules and Calendar Committee (2014-2016), Standing Committee on Lawyers’ Professional Liability (2005-2008, 2011-2014) and Standing Committee on Client Protection (2008-2011). Past president of the State Bar of New Mexico in 2005. Received JD from University of Michigan Law School in 1989.

Reason to serve: “I have been active in the ABA since around 2005. I was on the Standing Committee on Lawyers’ Professional Liability. Since that time, I have been a state bar delegate, and then for the last six years, I have been a state delegate from New Mexico. I really wanted to be able to contribute to the ABA on the Board of Governors side, as opposed to just the policy-making side, which is what the House of Delegates does. I know personally some of the officers who will be going on the board and was looking forward to working with them. Trish Refo, I served with her, she put me on the Rules and Calendar Committee when she was chair of the House. I felt that I learned a lot about the association and that I could make contributions to the board with regard to the general operation of the association.”

Plans for term: “In terms of accomplishments, I want to work with the rest of the board and the officers to improve the association, both financially and with regard to membership. Those are the two big issues facing the ABA right now. I come from the state bar side. I was a state bar president and have done work with other voluntary bars, and hopefully I can contribute to helping the association with both of those issues. Both financial issues and declining revenue and declining membership.”

Positive experience with the ABA: “It’s all been wonderful. It’s hard to tease out one particular experience, but I would say that serving on the Rules and Calendar Committee. I’m on my second round there, because I am chair of Drafting right now. Having served on Rules and Calendar the first time was just a fabulous experience. It gave me insight into the workings of the House of Delegates and how much work goes into making those meetings go smoothly, so that we have fabulous debate on important issues but also we don’t waste the time of our delegates. It was really one of the more challenging and more fascinating things that I’ve ever done.”

Christine Hayes Hickey

Photo of Christine Hayes Hickey courtesy of Christine Hayes Hickey



Managing partner at Rubin & Levin in Indianapolis. Immediate-past president and life fellow of the National Conference of Bar Presidents, serving on the executive council from 2012 to 2019. Member of the Indianapolis Bar Association Board of Directors, serving as president in 2010. Past president of the National Conference of Bar Foundations (2009-2010) and the Indianapolis Bar Foundation (2006-2008). Appointee to the Indiana Supreme Court Records Management Committee since 2014 and Rules Committee since 2017. Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. Received JD in 1993 from Indiana University McKinney School of Law.

Reason to serve: “I have been down so many different paths on my legal volunteer journey. The American Bar Association is really that umbrella over all of them. I have been going to the joint meetings with the ABA as long as I can remember, back from before I was president of the Indianapolis Bar Foundation, so that was a long time ago. The American Bar Association for me represents that next step for me to both do what I can through bar involvement for our legal profession and to continue to work alongside some amazing people who are doing their work on a national level through the ABA.”

Plans for term: “When you jump into a position, whether it’s on the board or it’s the leader with the hat of president, you take it as it comes and do the best that you can do. I hope to be a great board member and to make contributions to the board and to the ABA and to all of the attorneys who are members of the ABA and those that are future members, including my two children who are going to go to law school. My son will be starting this fall. My daughter is a junior at Purdue and is taking the LSAT in June. It makes me pretty proud. I’m very excited for them to enter our profession. They are our future.”

Positive experience with the ABA: “I look at the ABA as the entity that represents lawyers throughout the country in very important issues that one lawyer alone can’t tackle—truthfully, one local or state bar alone can’t tackle. It’s that collective voice. When attorneys run to the aid [of people], and I know we talk about the separation at the border ... when they have the ABA standing behind them, people listen. There is a force and there is a voice. It gives power to the things that lawyers do throughout the country for the good of the people. Since I came out of law school, I’ve been a member of the ABA. It was something you do as a lawyer, and that’s the reason why in my mind. It’s that collective voice of lawyers throughout the country that have focused efforts and make a difference.”

Bonnie E. Fought

Photo of Bonnie E. Fought by Earnie Grafton



Attorney in Hillsborough, California. Founder and past chief operating officer, chief financial officer and general counsel of Connectix Corp. Member of the House of Delegates since 2007. Chair of the Section of Science & Technology Law (2000-2001). Member of the Section Officers Conference Executive Committee (2016-2018). Member of the Standing Committee on Continuing Legal Education (2014-2017), Standing Committee on Publishing Oversight (2011–2014) and Standing Committee on Technology and Information Systems (1999-2002). Received JD from University of California at Berkeley School of Law in 1990.

Reason to serve: “I think it’s an important time for the ABA in terms of the new membership initiative and I hope that because of my background and my experience with the ABA, I will be able to add value and perspective there that will be helpful as we navigate our way through this time of change.”

Plans for term: “I view the role more not that individual trustees have specific goals or objectives, but that your goals and objectives are the advancement of the organization. I don’t have any individual goals other than to advance the work of the American Bar Association and the entities that make that up. There is a lot of great work that’s being done, so my role is to ensure that the work can continue to happen and happen in a better way.”

Positive experience with the ABA: “I worked as an intern at the ABA when I was in college. Before I was in law school, I was an undergrad at the University of Michigan, and they had this summer program in D.C. I went and worked with the American Bar Association for two summers. It helped me understand the association but also fueled my interest in law. That was probably the most formative experience I had with the ABA.”

James M. Durant

Photo of James M. Durant III by Earnie Grafton



Senior Executive Service member serving as chief counsel for the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Chicago. Retired U.S. Air Force JAG colonel, served 22 years. Member of the House of Delegates since 2011. Chair of the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division (2009-2010) and Standing Committee on Armed Forces Law (2002-2004). Fellow and past director of the Young Lawyers Division (2000-2002). Member of the Standing Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness. Member of the U.S. Senior Executives Association Board of Directors. Received JD in 1990 from Howard University School of Law.

Reason to serve: “I’m in my third term in the House. It’s time to step it up and to provide a wealth of experience, background and hopefully make a difference. I’m ready to step up my game. From a diversity standpoint, I sat on the Center on Racial and Ethnic Diversity. It was one of my presidential appointments. We led the rewrite of the ABA diversity plan, making sure that we continued to emphasize diversity and inclusion. That was fulfilling. ... One of the things I enjoy about the ABA is its ability to make the law better, make access to justice truly a goal set. Our motto, ‘Defending liberty, pursuing justice,’ that motto itself is what keeps me in it. I know firsthand about access to justice.”

Plans for term: “The main thing is to keep the ABA running, growing and achieving its goals. Ensuring entities can flourish and do the tasks that they have set for themselves, to move the law forward. In terms of our goal set, to sustain us with a high operation tempo. That’s what I hope to accomplish, so when it’s all said and done, I can say we grew. We have smarter operations. We’re not wasting time or money. We’ve increased our membership across the board—sustained and increased our membership.”

Positive experience with the ABA: “The Young Lawyers Division affiliate outreach programs, where the ABA goes out in the community and makes a difference. For example, teaching young high school students about our judiciary and how it works. Access to justice issues. Going into a juvenile delinquent facility and meeting and talking to the children and building a bookcase for them. Those were times we went out and actually made a difference in the local community where we had our meetings.”

Michael W. Drumke

Photo of Michael W. Drumke by Earnie Grafton



Partner with Swanson, Martin & Bell in Chicago. Member of the House of Delegates since 2015. Chair of the Section Officers Conference (2015-2017). Chair of the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (2014-2015) and TIPS revenue officer (2006-2009). Member of the TIPS Council (2005-2019) and chair of its Continuing Legal Education Board (2004-2006) and Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Committee (2001-2002). Member of the Standing Committee on Silver Gavel Awards (2008-2011). Received JD from University of Wisconsin Law School in 1991.

Reason to serve: “I am a longtime ABA member who has been active in the sections, or my section at least, since 1995. I think at this point in time, it’s important that the sections be understood, that people with experience in the sections have a voice on the board so that the board can make informed decisions.”

Plans for term: “It’s a challenging time for the ABA right now, and what I would like to see is the ABA figure out a model where it can accomplish its mission, which includes member service, more effectively. And in my view, member service starts with the sections. It branches out from there.”

Positive experience with the ABA: “There are a lot of positive experiences, but the most positive experiences was the opportunity to chair the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section and the other was chairing the Section Officers Conference. Being chair of TIPS was a tremendous experience because we had to a chance to work on and build the TIPS Section Conference, which is going into its fourth year. ... It’s a very broad and diverse section encompassing a lot of different areas of practice, so I had an opportunity to meet people in the section and work with them on projects that I otherwise would not have.”

Jim Holmes

Photo of James J.S. (Jim) Holmes by Earnie Grafton



Senior equity partner at Clyde & Co in Los Angeles. Chair (2012-2015), commissioner (2009-2012) and liaison to the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (2008-2009) for the Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. Member of the TIPS Section Council and Standing Committee on Governmental Affairs since 2017. Member of the 2015-2016 Diversity & Inclusion 360 Commission. Sustaining life fellow of the American Bar Foundation. Member of the LGBT Bar Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors. Received JD in 1986 from Arizona State University College of Law.

Reason to serve: “[Roberta] ‘Bobbie’ Liebenberg chaired the Governance Commission, and one of the things we pressed for was to add a seat to the Board of Governors. It would be a split seat, three years for disability, three years for LGBTQ, and the rationale for it was ‘if you’re not in the room, you’re on the menu.’ ... There have been LGBTQ members of the board before, but here is one where it is making a specific point that you need to remember.”

Plans for term: “First and foremost is to keep up that which makes the American Bar Association the premier bar association that it is. We are leading the profession and society on the law and commenting on the issues. People have always respected the ABA, because we have reasoned thought for the things we advocate and we’re there to advocate. That’s the strongest thing about the ABA. Obviously, continuing and maintaining our incredible record with regard to education, leadership opportunities and advancement of the profession and society. And increasing our membership.”

Positive experience with the ABA: “In my last year as chair of the SOGI Commission, the commission had a resolution that was passed by the House of Delegates where the ABA opposed conversion therapy for minors. ... I was very fortunate in my life. One would have never thought, coming from traditional demographics—my parents were both former Marines, staunch Catholics, conservative Republicans and they never missed a beat when I told them I was a gay. That’s incredible from 30-plus years ago. You hear all of the horror stories of what kids go through, being locked out of their houses and abandoned by their family. ... No one missed a beat in the House. When you sit back and hear that, and feel that from the association, that’s a good place.”

Lynn M. Allingham

Photo of Lynn M. Allingham by Mitch Higgins/ABA Media Relations



Owner of Allingham Law Offices in Anchorage, Alaska. Member of the House of Delegates (1990-2000, 2002-2004, 2008-present). Director of the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division since 2018 and Alaska state captain of the ABA Day Committee since 2016. Member of the GPSolo Executive Council (1999-2003) and chair of its Book Publications Board (2015-2018) and IP Committee (1996-2004). Member of the ABA Commission on IOLTA (1995-1998). Life fellow of the American Bar Foundation, serving as Alaska state co-chair. President of the Anchorage Bar Association in 1990 and 2016, and member of its Board of Directors. Received JD from University of Washington School of Law in 1981.

Reason to serve: “I have been active in the ABA since law school. I’ve always felt that I wanted to give back to the profession for everything that I’ve been able to benefit from. I really believe in the mission of the ABA, and I want to help in any way I can for the organization to fulfill that mission. I feel that in my service on the Board of Governors, I will be able to help contribute to that mission.”

Plans for term: “I want to help the American Bar Association as it faces some of its challenges in the next few years with regard to membership and in providing services to our members.”

Positive experience with the ABA: “Networking with other attorneys, finding out how they solve issues, what they are confronted with in their practices and also other bar leaders, finding out how they are meeting some of the challenges bar associations are facing right now.”

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