Meet This Year's Nominees: ABA candidates highlight positive experiences, plans for year
Ahead of the 2022 ABA Annual Meeting in August, we asked incoming leadership candidates the same four questions: What positive experiences have you had with the ABA? What would you like to accomplish during your term? What is something not a lot of other ABA members know about you? And why would you encourage other lawyers and judges to join the association? Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Palmer Gene Vance II
House of Delegates Chair-Elect
Member at Stoll Keenon Ogden in Lexington, Kentucky. Member of the House of Delegates, chairing and serving on multiple committees, including Rules and Calendar. Member of the Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fundraising Committee and the Rule of Law Initiative Board. Past chair of the Section of Litigation, Fund for Justice and Education Council and Standing Committee on Meetings and Travel. Past member of the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. Treasurer of the American Bar Endowment. Received JD from the University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law in 1990.
Positive experience with the ABA: “I have been fortunate to have many positive experiences over the years. Two of the most enjoyable and impactful were serving as chair of the ABA Fund for Justice and Education Council from 2012 to 2015 and serving as chair of the ABA Section of Litigation in 2018-19. In each of these roles, I had the opportunity to work on behalf of ABA members and the populations we serve.”
Plans for term: “The ABA remains an essential part of both the practice of law and the justice system. Members of the Board have an obligation to ensure that the ABA continues to thrive and that all members are working toward achieving the common goals of the association. I hope to be part of making necessary decisions that strengthen and grow our association.”
Something most members don’t know: “I am a voracious reader and an inveterate bargain book shopper. When traveling, I like to find used bookstores and usually end up with a much heavier bag heading home.”
Reason to join: “The ABA is a huge part of my professional life—I’ve been a member for more than 30 years. It has provided many opportunities to network and to advance my career and practice while also serving others. The best content for lawyers is found in the ABA. Every lawyer and judge would benefit from membership through programs, publications, building a network and being part of the world’s largest professional organization.”
Partner at Langrock Sperry & Wool in Middlebury, Vermont. Past member of the Board of Governors from 2017-2020, serving on the Finance Committee. Past member of the House of Delegates, serving as chair and vice-chair of the Technology and Communications Committee and vice-chair of the Select Committee. Chair of the Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services. American Bar Foundation Fellows state chair for Vermont. Past member of the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division Council. Received JD from the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law in 1988.
Positive experience with the ABA: “I have had so many positive experiences: annual trips to Washington, D.C., for ABA Day to lobby our delegation on [Legal Services Corp.] funding and other important issues; serving on GPSolo Council; working with and chairing the Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services; becoming aware of and involved in access to justice for people of modest means; and serving in the House and on the Nominating Committee as the Vermont state delegate. The work the ABA does is important and wide reaching.”
Plans for term: “As treasurer-elect nominee, in this next year, I hope to learn from Kevin Shepherd, Bill Phelan, the ABA financial staff and the members of the Board Finance Committee about where we are as an organization and what we can do moving forward. I know we have financial challenges, which have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. I am committed to maintaining the fiscal responsibility the Board has shown in meeting these challenges. I am also committed to continuing and evaluating the value proposition as offering our best hopes to increase membership and to eventually increase dues revenue.”
Something most members don’t know: “A lot of ABA members know of my love for ice hockey and that I continue to play. Not a lot may know that about 10 years ago, I was a member of USA Hockey’s Board of Directors as a representative from New England. Between the ABA and USA Hockey, I was going to over eight meetings a year. At one point, it became too much, and I decided I needed to commit to one or the other. I think (and hope) I made the right choice.”
Reason to join: “Joining the ABA provides the opportunity to engage with other lawyers and judges from all over the country. By joining, lawyers and judges can promote and benefit from the work of the ABA to: provide valuable content for members; to debate and adopt important policy; to speak for and defend the rule of law; to promote diversity within our profession; and in many ways to be the voice of the American lawyer. All of this is vitally important. Equally important is the opportunity to learn from and connect with other members with different backgrounds, different practices and different views.”
Partner at Valentine Austriaco & Bueschel in Chicago. Member of the House of Delegates, serving on the Credentials and Admissions Committee and the Nominating Committee. Member of the Rule of Law Initiative Board. Past member of the Standing Committee on Bar Activities and Services and Standing Committee on Meetings and Travel. Immediate past president of the National Conference of Bar Presidents. Past president of the Chicago Bar Association and Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois. Member of the Illinois Courts Commission. Received JD from DePaul University College of Law in 1990.
Positive experience with the ABA: “The ABA has been a staple organization for me and my professional life since I graduated from law school 30 years ago. It has given me the ability to grow professionally as a young lawyer at an accelerated rate; it has provided me with great educational resources and the opportunity to develop and speak on CLE programs as well as DEI focused programs; it has provided me with many opportunities to be actively involved in various ABA committees/commissions and projects as a way of giving back to the legal community; and most of all, it has given me the gift of great friendships from lawyers that I’ve served with at the ABA from all over the country.”
Plans for term: “Many bar associations and organizations are experiencing difficulties in their membership retention and recruitment while trying to maintain their financial stability. This has been severely impacted by the pandemic and its resulting economic fallout. While this is just one aspect of organizational governance, I hope to be an active participant in various committee work that will look at increasing membership with various minority groups as well as the millennial and Gen Z lawyers … I have a millennial lawyer daughter and a Gen Z business degree daughter, and there’s a lot that we can learn from the younger generation. They are joiners, they work hard, and they are team players—we just need to figure out how to harness their interest and get them engaged.”
Something most members don’t know: “I grew up in the Philippines and came to the U.S. in 1983, at age 18. My mom was a nurse, my dad was a salesman, and I have seven siblings. My parents understood that they couldn’t afford to send all of us to college if we had stayed in the Philippines, so they decided to come to the U.S. They worked hard, became U.S. citizens and petitioned us one by one. It took 10 years for the whole family to be reunited. I worked during the day and went to undergrad and law school at night. I became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1988, and got sworn in as a lawyer in 1990.”
Reason to join: “The ABA helps set policies that impact the practice of law, protect the rule of law, protect the U.S. Constitution and help preserve our democracy. It also helps set policies, amongst many other policies, that protect the independence of the judiciary. The ABA’s voice is strong, and powerful lawyers and judges alike should join the association so that our collective voices can be heard through the ABA platform so that we can better help serve our clients, our communities and our profession.”
Jo Ann Engelhardt
Managing director of Bessemer Trust in Palm Beach, Florida. Member of the House of Delegates, serving on the Committee on Issues of Concern to the Legal Profession. Member of the Fund for Justice and Education Council and Coordinating Group on Practice Forward. Past member of the Council for Diversity in the Educational Pipeline and Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. American Bar Foundation Fellows state co-chair for Florida. Received JD from New York University School of Law in 1978.
Positive experience with the ABA: “In my almost 45 years at the association, I have been encouraged to witness the ABA’s ever-increasing diversity. I learn so much from colleagues and friends whose experience is different from mine. My service with the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession, on the Pipeline Council and as the SOC liaison to the Diversity Center was truly rewarding. As an ABF fellow, I am enriched by the scholarly and fascinating research that is presented.”
Plans for term: “Because of my experience with several of the diversity entities in the ABA, I hope to help the association keep the pledge of Goal III. Whether it is to ensure all association meetings are accessible or to address the current issue of diversity in CLE, we have constant challenges to overcome. In addition, I feel my experience in wealth management gives me valuable tools to contribute to the ongoing discussion of how best to manage the association’s finances.”
Something most members don’t know: “I began the study of ballet when I was over 50 years old and now take five classes a week.”
Reason to join: “Our state and local bars often have outstanding CLE and other programs that benefit communities at the state and local level. But we are citizens not only of our home communities but of the U.S., but of the world. The ABA brings together individuals from all over the country to join their voices and marshal their power for justice, equality, scholarship and to support all who need help. Whether it is our Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund, House of Delegates resolutions that become national policy, Practice Forward, educational programs that empower a new generation or assistance to immigrants, the ABA gets the work done.”
Judge James S. Hill
Judge with the North Dakota District Court with chambers in Bismarck, since 2014. Former partner at Zuger Kirmis & Smith and assistant U.S. attorney in Bismarck. Past member of the Board of Governors from 2010-2013. Member of the House of Delegates, serving on the Steering Committee of the Nominating Committee and the Nominating Committee. Special advisor to the Standing Committee on Constitution and Bylaws. Past chair of the Commission on Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts. Received JD from the University of North Dakota School of Law in 1974.
Positive experience with the ABA: “It has been my privilege to serve in the ABA House since 1994, both as state bar association delegate and as state delegate from North Dakota. That extended service has afforded me the opportunity to serve on a number of committees and commissions within our association, from the Commission on IOLTA, the Standing Committee on Constitution and Bylaws, to the Nominating Committee of the House. It has brought me into contact with extraordinary people. The interaction I have had with lawyers throughout this county has been rewarding both personally and professionally. And without fail that interaction regenerates the passion I had when I first entered the profession following law school.”
Plans for term: “COVID restrictions have caused our association to change the way we meet the stated goals. But the goals themselves have never been more important. The rule of law concept could not be more important. The voice of leadership of the ABA in the discussion is crucial. Historical perspective is good for any organization, and I believe I can provide some perspective. We have to ‘reengage’ as a profession in the stated purpose of the ABA. We have been away from each other far too long. To be a true deliberative body, we have to see each other and fully and fairly debate the issues of the day. One task of this incoming Board is to reenergize our collective voice and remind the American lawyer how invaluable the legal profession is in a free society.”
Something most members don’t know: “This my second ‘tour’ on the Board of Governors. I like to think I have grown. My first term a decade ago was from the perspective of a practicing lawyer. I now have the perspective of a sitting trial judge, albeit still a ‘recovering trial lawyer.’”
Reason to join: “You improve yourself in every aspect of practice by belonging to the ABA. The opportunities for self-enrichment and legal growth are endless. The law needs a collective voice in society. Membership makes you a meaningful part of a national voice demanding access to justice and preserving the rule of law. I remind myself continually of the mission of the ABA, which is ‘to serve equally our members, our profession and the public by defending liberty and delivering justice as the national representative of the legal profession.’ That should be the mission and obligation of every lawyer.”
M. Joe Crosthwait Jr.
President of the Crosthwait Law Firm in Midwest City, Oklahoma. Member of the House of Delegates, previously serving on the Committee on Scope and Correlation of Work. Past chair of the Standing Committee on Solo and Small Firm Practitioners and past member of the Standing Committee on Law and National Security. Past president of the National Conference of Bar Presidents and Oklahoma Bar Association. Past American Bar Foundation Fellows state co-chair for Oklahoma. Received JD from Oklahoma City University School of Law in 1974.
Positive experience with the ABA: “Right after law school and while establishing my solo practice, I became director of the legal assistant program at Rose State College, starting in 1975. My first active experience with the ABA was in getting that program accredited as one of the first in the nation and then serving on accreditation teams for other paralegal programs, which had made application to the ABA. In 1979, I decided I needed a computer. I took courses and ‘learned’ how to program, ultimately hiring a real programmer. I got involved with what was then called the Section of Legal Economics and set up a booth at the 1979 ABA meeting in Dallas and tried to sell my time, billing and trust accounting software. I didn’t sell anything, but I had a lot of fun! I was also one of the first members of the ABA’s Computer Committee. We met in the Omni in Atlanta in 1980, and that was where the genesis of the annual Techshow and other ABA initiatives began.”
Plans for term: “I have long and vocally been concerned about the financial viability of the ABA, going back 20 years. Because of constantly increasing dues and actions, which alienated many would-be members and caused many members to quit the ABA, I felt like we were headed for a train wreck as early as 2003 or 2004. Part of the solution is to expand the breadth of opinions and ideas within the ABA. I think many people perceive, at least in my part of the world and I think in most parts of the country, that the ABA is a left-leaning group frequently advancing political positions not uniquely within the province of lawyers. (I daresay I am probably one of the few members of both the ABA and the Federalist Society.) To achieve its highest potential, the ABA must be fully representative of the profession as a whole. To that end, I would like to see us develop regular podcasts and programs featuring debates and discussions of contemporary issues (exclusive of CLEs), including those to be considered by the House of Delegates.”
Something most members don’t know: “I have played tennis since I was 8 years old. I have had Weimaraners since I was a child. I also got my pilot’s license in 1977, am an avid scuba diver, and I’ve jumped out of a perfectly good airplane.”
Reason to join: “To some large extent, I consider membership a patriotic duty as well as a professional imperative. It is a patriotic duty because there must be a national organization to pursue those things that state and local bars are not fully capable of accomplishing. In other words, if the ABA didn’t exist, there would be no one to do what we do. Some of those things are evaluation of federal judicial nominations, advancement of legislation that impacts the legal profession and accreditation of law schools. Moreover, much of what the ABA provides supplements in an important way those services provided by state and local bars. By joining the ABA ‘patriotically,’ members have helped facilitate and improve the legal profession.”
Managing member and chair of Litigation and Trial Practice at Goldman Antonetti & Cordova in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Past member of the Board of Governors from 2010-2013. Member of the House of Delegates, previously serving as chair of the Minority Caucus, Select, Credentials and Admissions, and Resolution and Impact Review Committees. Member of the Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary. Past chair of the Center for Racial and Ethnic Diversity and Standing Committee on Constitution and Bylaws. Chair of Oficina Legal de la Comunidad Board of Directors. Received JD from Columbia Law School in 1982.
Positive experience with the ABA: “I have made many professional and personal friends and have interacted with consummate professionals who have had very positive influences in my development as a lawyer and as a leader. On the Board of Governors, I worked closely with good friends who became part of my extended family. I have also participated in areas as varied as the House of Delegates Minority Caucus, the Decennial Review Committee, the Standing Committee on Constitution and Bylaws, the Diversity Center and the Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, and other House committees, which have been fulfilling in many different ways.”
Plans for term: “In my next term on the Board of Governors, I hope to learn quickly and better how the ABA has evolved over the last decade and contribute to the discussion of issues that are important to the improvement of our profession and the pursuit of justice at all levels. Internal governance issues that help us serve our members are important. Nonetheless, we can attend to them and still address the broader goals and role of an association like ours in the context of the convoluted world we live in. We have made great strides internally in the composition of our leadership and should continue the pursuit of the elimination of bias and enhancement of diversity.”
Something most members don’t know: “A lot of ABA members do not know that I played baseball in college. It was Division III, and I had no dreams of turning pro, but it was fun, and it developed further in me how to contribute to a collective work.”
Reason to join: “The association is an invaluable resource for students, lawyers and judges to develop their professional skills and to contribute to the advancement of the rule of law and justice.”
Daniel A. Schwartz
Partner at Shipman & Goodwin in Hartford, Connecticut. Member of the House of Delegates, serving as chair of the Technology and Communications Committee and member of the Nominating Committee. Member of the Standing Committee on Continuing Legal Education. Past member of the Standing Committee on Technology and Information Systems. Past chair of the Connecticut Bar Foundation James W. Cooper Fellows. Past member of the Hartford County Bar Association Board of Directors. ABA Journal Legal Rebel in 2009. Received JD from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law in 1995.
Positive experience with the ABA: “About 15 years ago, I attended an ABA Young Lawyers Division conference in Montreal. Among the great programs they had was a presentation on something unique at the time—legal blogs. I talked with the speaker afterwards and by the fall, I had developed the Connecticut Employment Law Blog. Now it’s come full circle; the ABA Journal has put the blog in its ‘Hall of Fame’ and through my work, I was named a ‘Legal Rebel’ as well. And that little blog? It’s become a key part of my practice as an employment lawyer.”
Plans for term: “I’d like to be able to contribute in some key areas: 1) Member-driven focus, including electronic delivery of exciting programs and Continuing Legal Education; I’ve served the last two years on the Standing Committee for Continuing Legal Education and would love to see us expand our offerings and the ease in which members can access our programs; 2) Lead in technology; the ABA Techshow is one of the premier events in the legal industry but we need to find a way to expand the reach of programs like this; 3) Focus on the wellbeing of lawyers, with young lawyers in particular. Our YLD has historically been one of the best parts of the ABA, and we need to continue to invest in this area.”
Something most members don’t know: “About eight years ago, I lost complete hearing in one ear and have diminished hearing in another. I’ve had to adapt and be resilient. But I’ve gained a greater appreciation through that and other hurdles that life and my career doesn’t go in a straight line. The fact is that many of our members go through their own challenges—whether it’s the loss of a family member, a severe illness, a change in work or financial hardship. I was reminded of that on a trip to visit a sick family member on a plane; I wondered how many others on that flight weren’t traveling on vacation or for business but for another reason? I’ve started to think about that, too, when I participate in ABA meetings. It’s easy to assume that everything and everyone is fine but many lawyers struggle—with depression, with finances or with taking care of their families. The ABA can and should be a place for those lawyers to turn in times of need.”
Reason to join: “Many of us went to law school to ‘make a difference.’ I didn’t know exactly how I wanted to do that in law school and was fortunate to find something I really enjoyed during a summer with a law firm. But even when I started practicing, I still wanted to do something more with our profession. The ABA was and is the best organization to do that. But organizations as big as the ABA are only as strong as the members who offer to participate … I’m confident that there’s a place for every lawyer—from big and small firms and from across the political landscape. The ABA is a big tent.”
Anita M. Ventrelli
Section of Family Law
Senior partner and Executive Committee member at Schiller, DuCanto & Fleck in Chicago. Member of the House of Delegates, serving on the Nominating Committee. Past chair of the Section of Family Law. Past member of the section’s Council and past chair of its Long-Range Planning, Continuing Legal Education, Marital Property, Ethics and Domestic Violence/Family Abuse Committees. Faculty leader for the ABA Family Law Trial Advocacy Institute. Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Received JD from DePaul University College of Law in 1989.
Positive experience with the ABA: “My positive experiences with the American Bar Association include the opportunity to chair a committee and exercise leadership skills almost immediately on joining the Family Law Section, creating a nationwide network of friends first and foremost but also developing a network for referrals, expert witnesses and colleagues and, last but certainly not least, traveling all over the United States seeing some of the best Continuing Legal Education programs available.”
Plans for term: “During the term I serve on the Board of Governors, I would like the Board to work with the sections, divisions and forums to create an attorney referral directory showcasing our membership and available and searchable by the public. I would also like to see the Board of Governors open the closed universe of ABA social media so that the public at large can get exposure to what our organization does and so that attorneys who are not members can see the quality work our members perform.”
Something most members don’t know: “Most ABA members would not know that I compete at ballroom dancing.”
Reason to join: “Other lawyers and judges should join the American Bar Association to enjoy the association’s publications, networking opportunities and to participate in shaping the future of our profession while also building contacts for themselves.”
Section of Dispute Resolution
Executive director of California LAW Pathways in San Francisco. Past member of the Board of Governors from 2013-2016. Member of the House of Delegates. Member of the Commission on Women in the Profession. Past chair of the Section of Dispute Resolution. Past member of the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession, Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense. Past American Bar Foundation Fellows state chair for Michigan. Received JD from Wayne State University Law School in 1981.
Positive experience with the ABA: “I have had the opportunity and privilege to participate in ABA work through several different sections, committees and commissions as well as the House of Delegates and Board of Governors. I have enjoyed my volunteer work immensely and have also met countless interesting and inspiring attorneys and ABA staff members. I often tell other attorneys in my law firm and community that I always come away from meetings reminded of why I became a lawyer in the first place. As a big firm practitioner for many years, that reminder is always welcome!”
Plans for term: “The ABA continues to face very difficult challenges. The practice of law is evolving, and the interests of lawyers in organized bar activities have changed. The ABA must meet those challenges and provide current and potential members with benefits that are important to them, whether they relate to the practice of law, Continuing Legal Education, volunteering to do meaningful work or other benefits that are significant enough to convince attorneys to pay dues and become actively involved with this association. The work the ABA does in bolstering the rule of law in America and around the world is crucial, and the Board of Governors must continue to support that work and the other significant work done by entities within the ABA.”
Something most members don’t know: “Not a lot of ABA members know that my first career was that of professional musician. I am trained in classical music and have two degrees in Oboe Performance from the University of Michigan School of Music. I supported myself from quite a young age through law school and beyond performing with symphonies, chamber music ensembles and as a soloist.”
Reason to join: “I believe the work of the American Bar Association in the United States and around the world is impactful and important. By joining the ABA, attorneys have the opportunity to be actively involved in this meaningful work. ABA members have the opportunity to meet and form friendships with other smart and committed attorneys, network with attorneys around the country and beyond, continue their legal education and make a real contribution to the legal system.”
Michael W. Mutek
Section of Public Contract Law
General counsel, Defense, at Aerojet Rocketdyne in Huntsville, Alabama. Member of the House of Delegates. Past chair and current fellow of the Section of Public Contract Law. Past chair of the section’s Services Contracting Best Practices Task Force. Author of Contractor Team Arrangements - Competitive Solution or Legal Liability: The Deskbook for Drafting Teaming Agreements. Faculty for the Public Contracting Institute. Chair of the University of Dayton School of Law Advisory Council. Received JD from the University of Dayton School of Law in 1979.
Positive experience with the ABA: “During 40-plus years of membership, my ABA involvement expanded from participation in order to be a better lawyer to engagement in order to continue relationships and friendships. The journey involved participation on committees and task forces, service as a section chair and a seat in the House of Delegates. Active ABA participation has been a defining aspect of my legal career.”
Plans for term: “When I was a law student, I assumed all lawyers were ABA members. That is not the case. I would like to work on attracting more lawyers to the ABA … We really need to get people early. That’s one thing I’d like to look at. How can we attract more law students, just before they enter the formal practice of law by showing them what we can provide? I was mentored, and I had leaders who were active in the association. That was incredible. Maybe that’s something we also need to look at—how we get people to sponsor mentees?”
Something most members don’t know: “I actually do live on a mountain.”
Reason to join: “ABA members exhibit a particularly strong and nuanced understanding of the law and evolving rules. The ABA’s section structure includes specialized committees that truly have a finger on the pulse of an area of the law.”
Goal III Woman Member-at-Large
Associate general counsel, Competition and Regulatory, at Meta Platforms in Menlo Park, California. Past member of the Commission on Women in the Profession. Past co-chair of the commission’s Grit Project, Men in the Mix and Margaret Brent Awards Committee. Past member of the Presidential Task Force on Gender Equity. Member of the First District Appellate Project Executive Committee. Founder and co-chair of the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession Social Impact Incubator. Past president of Ms. JD. Received JD from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law in 2011.
Positive experience with the ABA: “The ABA has the opportunity to make a truly positive impact on the profession. In my career, much of that impact has been through various women’s organizations within the ABA. As just a few examples, I am so proud of: the positive impact that the Commission on Women in the Profession’s Grit Project has had in helping lawyers reframe the way they see moments of perceived failure; how the commission and the antitrust section’s Women.Connected worked together to expand the Grit Project with ‘21 Days of Grit and Growth Mindset,’ which brought the concept to lawyers in small, bite-sized pieces when COVID prevented gathering and lawyers faced ever-more acute constraints on their time; and how the Commission on Women in the Profession, SOGI and the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity have come together for over 10 years to mentor future women leaders through the Ms. JD fellows program.”
Plans for term: “As the woman-at-large member, one thing I plan to accomplish is spending time with each of the women’s organizations within the ABA. I also want to add to the Board and the ABA’s approach toward young lawyers. I hear far too often that young lawyers aren’t ‘joiners’ and that simply has not been my experience. Like any other cohort, I think the question is whether we are showing them a good return on their investment of money and time.”
Something most members don’t know: “I’m a pretty open person, so I’m not sure there is much that others don’t know. But here’s some facts: I grew up in Montana. I am a proud #LawMom who is married to a Kiwi. I am a lifelong Denver Broncos fan, Lewis Hamilton is the GOAT, we are a Washington Capitals family, and I am an avid Peloton rider.”
Reason to join: “The pandemic further accelerated changes in the profession. Being part of the ABA gives you a way to keep up on developments (both substantive and practical), find people who will support your practice and make the profession a lot more fun and give back while developing your own leadership, persuasion and negotiation skills outside of your daily practice.”
GOAL III Disability Member-at-Large
Assistant public defender in the Law Office of Cook County Public Defender in Chicago from 1987-2017. Goal III Disability member-at-large of the House of Delegates, serving on the Nominating Committee and Resolution and Impact Review Committee. Chair of the Commission on Disability Rights. Member of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion. Immediate past president and first vice president of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois and member of the National Federation of the Blind Board of Directors. Received JD from the University of Missouri School of Law in 1983.
Positive experience with the ABA: “I came to the ABA in about 2012, and since that time I have met a lot of great lawyers and had an opportunity to participate fully in some of the ABA entities like the Commission on Disability Rights. I have been able to influence, I hope, the programs and policies of the ABA as it relates to helping lawyers and law students with disability gain access to the legal profession. We at the commission spend a lot of our time talking about accessibility because we know whether it’s a meeting space or whether it’s a website or whether it’s a publication, if you as an attorney with a mobility impairment or sight impairment don’t have access, then you don’t really feel like you are a part of the legal profession. I have really been happy to be part of the Goal III initiatives.”
Plans for term: “I want other ABA entities to know there is a Diversity Center. If some of the other sections, divisions and forums interact with the Diversity Center sooner, we can work together to minimize some of the challenges. So, for example, if an entity is planning on doing a CLE or webinar and reaches out to the Diversity Center, you may be able to find diverse speakers there that you never would have considered. Or let’s say you are planning a meeting, we have tools that help you make sure that your meeting environment, whether you are doing it on the web or whether you are doing it in person, is fully accessible.”
Something most members don’t know: “I took up skiing when I was a teenager and continued to do it until I tore some knee ligaments. So, I stopped downhill skiing and started to do cross-country skiing. The only reason why I haven’t done it as much in recent years is because of my activities with the ABA and the National Federation of the Blind.”
Reason to join: “I really don’t want to underestimate the power of networking and mentoring. I know that lawyers and judges are members of their local bar associations but you really in the ABA get a chance to meet lawyers nationwide and make that connection to lawyers nationwide. I have gone places in the ABA where I probably never would’ve traveled to and met lawyers who practice in other jurisdictions and practice all kinds of areas of law.”
This story was originally published in the June/July 2022 issue of the ABA Journal under the headline: “Meet This Year’s Nominees: ABA candidates highlight positive experiences, plans for year.”