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The changing of the guard

Posted on Wednesday, July 23, 2014    

Every year et our annual convention,the inevitable change in leadership is a bittersweet üme. Werking in the the ?mevitable change in leadership is a bittersweet üme. Working in the trenches with the. Executive Commitiee during the year brings s closeness and familiarity that is not easy te let go 0f when the President finishes his term. Don Elliott, our newest Immediate Past President, was a great leader in those trenches. Over the years that he served on the Executive Committee, he always brought his A gerne and was not able to be outwerked. He’s implemented wonderful Changes in our program that are helping us te be more integrated in uur communities and therefore, more successful overall

.The sign of a good leader is that when they leave, you never know they left – I oan’t take credit for that quote but I can tell you that the transition in leadership has been as smooth as it has ever been. No waves, ne wake, just smooth sailing ahead. This is a greet tribute to our pest president Don Elliott, and our new president George Wise, and their ability to make a seam-less transition.

In D0n’s time here, we fought and won a very hard battle against those pushing tn_rt reform, and under his presidency we laid the groundwork for the battles to come. And in stepsGeorge Wise as the new president.George has been an integral part ofATLA for the pest 26 years. He’s been serving on the publications committee for 11 years. He knows this organiza-tion inside and out and as he said when he received the gevel, he bleeds ATLA blood. George is smart, methodical,measured and bold e great combination and just what ATLA needs for the 2014-2015 year. George was with us during the 2013 session, in which we fought a very long and hard battle which ultimately preserved the court’s rule-making authority. A different out-come would have had terrible reper-cussions for all Arkansans and would have basically put our system of justice inte the hands 0f lobbyists. We would definitely see the profits over people mentality prevail as We all knew that the more Cash a corporation has, the more money they can spend 0n efforts to lobby the legislature and pay for influence over the law makjng process. In short, George has gained valuable experience '1npreparation for his' year as president.

The roh“J of president-elect is of utmost importance as Well. As pres-ident-elect, Bob Edwards will serveas asounding board, strategist, lobby-ist, ¿and of Course, IMPACT Chairman.He’11 be Woiking very closely withGeorge, absorbing the role of president so that this time next year, we have yet another easy transition. This time next year, We will be preparing for avery big election year which will set the tone for so much of our future. TwoSupreme Court seats will be open and of course, the entire Arkansas legisla-tive body will undergo a huge change that will likely be heavily influenced by the presidential election. Our efforts to make headway in the legislature will be greatly iniluenced by the tone of our leadership, and Bob knows how te reach lawmakers on both sides of the aisle so that we are as effective as pos-sible.

Robin Smith is 'the 2014-2015 Vice-president and is rising up in the leader-ship ranks of ATLA. Robin will be the presiding president during the 2016Legislative Session which, dependent upon the upcoming Session, could be a very ’Lough battle. As Vice-President,Robin will also be the Programs Chair.Overseeíng CLE planning, organizing, and making sure that we have the best' product available will be her focus. Our CLE and other programs are essential to the funding of ATLA, and The greater our programs succes-s, the gTeater our success.

joey MoCutohen ís our new seo-retary-treesurer, which means he’11 be our ATLA President for 2017-2018. ïknow that all of you must know Ioey at this point. He ís an absolutely unstop-pable force. He’s the first man on the scene if you need help getting to know a lawmaker or if you are providing free legal services to disaster Victims. Ioey will be taking minutes at all of ourATLA meetings and will give the finaleCial reports as Well 'as keep track of the budget.

As you can see, the structure of the Executive Committee enables each future president to learn every detail
of the ins and outs of ATLA. Without this knowledge and years of prepara-tion, the changing of the guard would
likely be a much more noticeable event.When our founders wrote our bylaws,though, theit` wisdom shone through in the stTucîuríng of organization.We can be thankÍul for their foresight which has enabled ATLA to continue to grow stronger with each passing year, so that Arkansans’ access tu the ?oourts is protected. I know that 20'14-2015 is going to' be a great year for ATLA, and the more participation from our members, the better. Donate to ÍMPACT, attend ATLA CLES, come t0 the Capitol when there’s e Cell t0 action. This year’s leaders are excellent and we are so fortunate t0 have them, but without you behind them there is nothing for which tu fight. You are all leaders in your Communities and we’ll need you to really embrace that role this year as We work to keep Arkansas a safe place.'