In speaking with our members, the notion that we are an association of many individuals who donate their time, energy and expertise to the various MBA endeavors has rang loud and clear. I am humbled by the commitment of our members.
As we leave 2020 behind and look toward 2021, I would venture to say that many of us are looking forward to the new year. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many changes to our professional and personal lives this past year. We went from going to our offices every day, traveling to and from depositions, attending court hearings and trying cases to closed offices, depositions via Zoom, telephone court conferences and suspension of trials. We went from enjoying a post-work cocktail with colleagues at the local watering hole to Zoom happy hours.
2020 has also brought changes to the MBA. Weeks before “social distancing” became part of our everyday vernacular, our Executive Director of 30 years, Nancy Paul, announced her retirement. Her retirement brought the inevitable committee search for a new Executive Director. Although a daunting task, and one that was completed in compliance with a state-mandated “stay at home” order, Denise Vicario became our new Executive Director. Denise started in her new role just six months ago – but you would never know it. She has assumed her Executive Director responsibilities admirably. She has the experience, knowledge and tools necessary to steer our association through these changing times. She has experience: leading diverse levels of staff; coordinating events; and addressing large groups of attorneys. She has the knowledge of what members want and need because she is also a MBA member. She has financial and executive skills to run a large association. Denise also has the connections to continue and strengthen the association’s relationship with the Montgomery County judges and courthouse staff.
Change is inevitable. What distinguishes you from others and demonstrates your true mettle is how you respond to change. The MBA has distinguished itself this past year by adjusting, adapting, and evolving to seemingly unending change.
The MBA staff, comprised of: Hazel Bergquist, George Cardenas, Jack Costello, Jessica Gambone, Jim Mathias, Sherry Sutton, Pattie Walker, Megan Ware and Sandy Whittington, along with our ED, Denise, have provided support, benefits, and services to our members without interruption. The planning, production, and presentation of dozens of CLE webinars, online courses, and virtual events; the publication of the Montgomery County Law Reporter, Sidebar Magazine, and upcoming editions of the Montgomery County Elder Law Handbook and Legal Directory and Professional Resource Guide; the services provided by our affinity sponsors; and vital member communications and court updates - just to name a few.
Of course, I’d be remiss not to acknowledge the leadership of our 2020 President, Patrick Kurtas. In spite of the challenges in 2020, Patrick has led the association through these uncharted waters. He focused on the provision of timely and informative updates regarding Montgomery County Courthouse Covid-19 Protocols. He governed the MBA by conducting virtual Board of Directors meetings, attending numerous committee and section meetings, and tackling a myriad of unique issues that arose throughout the year. 2020 brought to the forefront the diversity issues that have long been a part of this nation. Patrick, along with our Diversity Committee Co-Chairs, Lauren Hughes and Jimmy Chong, and advisor, Nancy Walsh, met these issues head-on and addressed them in an open and honest manner. A series of thoughtful, timely and heartfelt meetings, forums and presentations were held wherein individuals could share their stories and bridge the gaps in understanding and perceptions of diversity issues.
Looking ahead, the MBA will continue to provide CLEs specific to the members’ areas of practice. We will continue to offer the members cost effective benefits that enable them to manage their offices and lives more efficiently. We will continue to focus on access to justice and promotion of equality. We will strengthen our commitment to Legal Aid of Southeastern PA, the Montgomery Bar Foundation, and the Montgomery Child Advocacy Project (MCAP), to name a few. We will continue to strive to provide our members opportunities to be engaged, empowered and challenged.
Although we can’t meet in person (as of this writing) there are still so many ways to connect with each other through the MBA. In addition to our many committees and sections and their active listserv communities, we continue to strive to bring you innovative opportunities to interact and connect with us and each other. We partnered with a national leader in virtual conference technology to bring you the Live + Virtual Delaware Valley Legal Expo. We hosted a number of fun and unique virtual events, including Bingo, trivia, painting, beer tasting, even a succulent plant workshop! No matter what 2021 brings, the MBA will continue to pivot as necessary to host events that bring our members together. Law Day, the Annual Memorial Service, the Naturalization Ceremony and other events may look different in 2021, but the spirit that is the MBA will remain.
In the past several weeks I have had numerous discussions with members of this association regarding a multitude of subjects, including diversity, the role of committees, volunteer opportunities and what lies ahead in 2021. These conversations have demonstrated the members’ commitment and love of the MBA. In speaking with our members, the notion that we are an association of many individuals who donate their time, energy and expertise to the various MBA endeavors has rang loud and clear. I am humbled by the commitment of our members. We may not know the date on which masks will again only be worn for Halloween, but we know that it will happen. Until such time, the MBA remains committed to its members and to providing them with the opportunities to enhance their practices and strengthen their professional and personal connections during these changing times. As the incoming President, I look forward to working with my fellow Officers, Board of Directors, Committee Chairs, Past Presidents, Executive Director and Staff in continuing the MBA traditions and initiatives. I am honored to lead this association in 2021.