As I write this, I’m five months into my tenure and am preparing for my first HCBA Annual Meeting. There President Jewelie Grape will pass the gavel to President-Elect Thomas D. Jensen. It will be a bittersweet event for me. In more than 17 years of serving associations, it always is; melancholy about the fact that you will no longer work side-by-side with one great leader, yet excited for the opportunity to do so with the next.
Never is the leadership of one president the same as that of another. Each person who serves in this role brings his or her own leadership style to the position and helps to shape the organization in unique ways. Each also faces unique challenges borne out of the ever-changing landscape of the law, the evolution of the profession, and other factors impacting the Hennepin County community and the inner-workings of the association.
During President Jewelie Grape’s year heading the HCBA, the greatest challenge of her presidency was the recruitment, selection, and on-boarding of a new executive director, prompted by the retirement of Larry Buxbaum after more than a decade of leadership and service to the HCBA. President Grape has done a great deal to support the organization through this transition period, and has been a tremendous resource for me in getting up to speed. She is a quiet leader whose style is focused on bringing people together and ensuring all are heard. She is authentic and takes a real interest in the people she works with: judges, board members, staff, and students. Everyone is important to Jewelie. She is sensitive to the time commitment that HCBA committee and board service entails, and works to make sure that time is well spent. Her legacy will be in many areas beyond shepherding a smooth transition from one executive director to the next. She has broadened efforts to engage members throughout their careers, strengthening the HCBA’s connections to law students before they enter the profession and to our HCBA past presidents whose experience and wisdom should be valued and engaged. The organization and the profession have been well represented and well served by President Grape.
President-Elect Thomas D. Jensen is poised to bring great passion and enthusiasm to his term as president. He is an unabashed cheerleader for the value the HCBA brings to members and to the broader community; and an impassioned advocate for the judiciary, the justice system, and legal services. As we head into a legislative session where funding for the courts will be a critical issue, incoming President Jensen will be a strong voice for a justice system that works for all. His business savvy will also be key to his tenure as president. With a particularly large budget deficit anticipated as we close FY 2011-2012, incoming President Jensen is intent on partnering with staff and the Board of Directors to develop sound strategies for the organization’s programmatic and financial future, growing non-dues revenue possibilities, and ensuring that members of all ages and stages in their careers truly experience value for their dues dollars.
On behalf of the entire HCBA staff, thank you, Jewelie, for your kind and generous leadership, and congratulations, Tom, on being chosen by your colleagues to lead the HCBA in the next bar year. We look forward to continuing to work with both of you in the months to come.