Another great year is just days away from closing. It is memorable on many levels, but here is my top 10 list:
- #10 – Meeting interesting people. Today I will be picking up Judge Sol Wachtler, former Chief Judge of New York State Court of Appeals, at the airport in preparation for tonight’s Annual Dinner. Judge Wachtler will be sharing his personal story about mental health and the impact on his personal and professional life. I am looking forward to “chauffeuring” the Judge around Rochester over the next 24 hours. I have toured former Chief Judge Judith Kaye through the Telesca Center, as well as current Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, and later this afternoon, I will be touring Judge Wachtler as well.
- #9 — The production of the film documentary about the always amazing Judge Michael Telesca — ” Dedicated to Justice: Hon. Michael Telesca.” To have come to know this incredible man over the last 10 years and then to see his life story unfold in 30 minutes in his own words was pretty special. Even more special was the “world premiere” at the Strong Museum to a sold-out crowd, with the man himself, Judge Telesca, in the house and enjoying every minute of it. Special thanks to the Foundation of the Monroe County Bar as its producer, Judge Jon Feldman and Steve Modica for their idea to develop the film, Matthew Spaull for making the film, and their collective genius to make it happen.
- #8 — The Inaugural Judicial Robing Ceremony was a wonderful event to celebrate the important relationship between the Bench and Bar. Celebrating the Honorable John Owens, our new Surrogate, and our newest City Court Judge, the Honorable Leticia Astacio, made this first time event even more special. We could not have made it happen without the support of our dedicated Administrative Judge Craig Doran, who is always a champion of the MCBA.
- #7 — Last summer, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Rochester Diversity Clerkship Program. This award winning program established in Mike Wolford’s term has brought 8 young and diverse 1L law students to Rochester this summer for 10 weeks to experience first hand, our wonderful legal community. Over the years, we have successfully recruited alum of the program to actually join our community upon their admission to the bar. Now we have to work to retain this wonderful talent through improved efforts around inclusion and retention.
- #6 — Witnessing the love and marriage of two members, Laura Myers (The Wolford Firm) and Curt Johnson (Davidson Fink). They met at Jazz For Justice several years ago in the post party at Abilene’s. I was there the night of the first meeting, and honored to have been in attendance at the moment when they said, “I do!” It was a beautiful day.
- #5 — The 5th Annual Jazz for Justice, chaired by the incomparable Elaine Cole, president-elect of the Foundation of the Monroe County Bar, raised just over $30,000 to benefit the many programs funded through grants from the Foundation. JFJ is an incredible collaboration with the musical phenoms at the Eastman School of Music. It is always a great party.
- #4 — After many years of dialogue, debate and determination, we are finally launching a Health & Well Being Committee to assist attorneys living with stress, work life balance and mental health issues. It is time that we understand, accept and talk about mental health. With the support of Co-Chairs, Bradley Kammholz and Cheryl Heller, we have a committed Task Force, a community partner in place, and a plan to take care of attorneys in need.
- #3 — Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the creation of the Telesca Center for Justice this year at Law Day complete with birthday cakes. It is so hard to believe that a decade has passed since we started this amazing journey. The ride only gets better and better as we continue to experience new opportunities for collaboration.
- #2 — Celebrating the impending retirement of my long time (almost the same decade) Executive Assistant, Ginny LaCour. Though she continues to have a blast, Ginny has decided it is time, and will be wrapping up her time at the MCBA at the end of July. It has been bittersweet to watch Ginny on this “decision making” journey, and no, it has nothing to do with the current president making the year too hard. In Ginny’s own words, “It is time!”
- #1 — The very best part of the 2014-15 bar year was quite simply…Steve Modica, our president. I have known, and worked with Steve, for so many years now, so I thought I knew the kind of president he would be. But in the end, I had no idea what a truly great president he would be. Steve was always accessible, and what I appreciated the most, Steve was open to dialogue. He listened to the opinions of others, including mine, and the staff’s. Steve was dedicated to his term, pushing so hard to make the most of this one year term–and did he ever! Thanks to Steve and Judge Feldman, we have the Telesca film. Thanks to Steve fearless determination and incredible generosity of “seed money”, we are launching the Health & Well Being Program to assist lawyers living with and dealing with mental health issues. Thanks to Steve, we successfully launched the first Robing Ceremony. Thanks to Steve, and his support of Neil Rowe, our president-elect, we are taking a bold step with a new governance structure.
And there it is, my “Top 10” list for this bar year. Special thanks to all of you for making this another great year. Without you there is no MCBA. After 14 years, your commitment to the MCBA continues to leave me in awe. Thank you for checking in… Mary