I am honored to have been your President this past year. I enjoyed every minute of it, and would gladly remain in office for the foreseeable future if our bylaws allowed it. Alas, however, the tiara must be passed, and I am thrilled to pass it to my dear friend, the incredibly accomplished Lonya A. Gilbert.
Last year, I coined the phrase, “WWBA stands for We Will Be Able.” Here’s a sample of what we were we able to do this year:
We started off with our acclaimed Bullying and Cyber-bullying General Membership Meeting in September, which featured experts in the field as well as our District Attorney, Hon. Janet DiFiore. Thanks to the technology of our co-sponsor, Pace Law School, this was the first WWBA program to be webcast. Our parent organization, the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY), has ensured that it will not be the last. In April, our very own Immediate Past President, Deborah A. Scalise, presented the first webcast WBASNY program in her area of concentration, professional ethics. The ability to webcast our programs will enable us to broaden our reach as well as increase our revenue and expand our membership.
Our November general membership meeting traditionally has featured Deb Scalise and a professional ethics CLE program. Deb outdid herself this year by calling upon the wisdom and experience of Ellen Holtzman, Esq., a former member of the Grievance Committee of the Ninth Judicial District, and Hon. Linda Jamieson of the Supreme Court, Rockland County, to present an interactive program on the Code of Judicial Conduct and the Rules of Professional Conduct. This program was co-sponsored by the White Plains Bar Association, of which I am a Director and Deb is the incoming President…now you know what we do in our spare time.
The January General Membership Meeting was organized by the incomparable Mary Beth Morrissey. Entitled “Our Bodies, Ourselves: Inside Focus on Critical Women’s Health Issues of the 21st Century,” it featured a panel of three female health care providers who specialized in different aspects of women’s health. The interactive discussion was lively and informative. We also honored our Past Presidents at this meeting.
Our April General Membership Meeting was all about having fun, but the topic was quite serious: the art of self-defense. We all changed into our gym clothes and learned a few moves. I also learned that night to be afraid - very afraid - of certain of our members, who are a lot tougher, meaner and stronger than they appear.
In between the General Membership Meetings, the WWBA presented or co-sponsored - at the time of this writing - nearly sixty programs on subjects running the gamut from land use to diversity to estate planning. In October, our Matrimonial Committee, with the invaluable assistance of the Hon. Alan Scheinkman and the Hon. Sondra Miller, explained the new divorce laws to a capacity crowd. Just last month, an all-star cast taught us the proper use of the powerful tool of summary judgment motions in state and federal court. Once again, we were able to offer CLE credit for an extremely modest cost, while at the same time promoting our talented members and providing unparalleled networking and learning opportunities.
In an effort to keep you informed, I became the Email Queen. As of May 2, 2011, I sent out an astonishing 782 emails, both to individuals and collectively to the membership …and that includes only those emails sent through the WWBA website; many others were sent from my McCarthy Fingar email. This is a testament not to my diligence, but to the strength and breadth of our members’ desire to be active participants in a wide variety of issues, causes and programs.
One of the goals of my presidency was to increase the involvement of men in the WWBA. Despite the difficult economic climate, our membership was similar to last year’s. In fact, as of this writing, we had over 600 members, and kept our ten delegates to WBASNY. Better yet, nearly 70 members are men . . . more than last year!
I did not do any of this alone. By my side were my officers: Vice Presidents Lonya A. Gilbert, Julie S. Kattan and Beth A. Willensky; Treasurer Susan D. Edwards; Recording Secretary Annette G. Hasapidis; and Corresponding Secretary Lisa M. Bluestein. Lisa in particular deserves kudos for bringing in the newsletter ahead of schedule month after month. They, along with Gail M. Boggio, Lucia Chiocchio, Kathleen Donelli, Donna E. Frosco, Deborah A. Scalise, and the Hon. Lisa Margaret Smith, comprised my Executive Board. I cannot thank these women enough for their wit, wisdom and patience. Nothing at all would have gotten done if it weren’t for our all-volunteer army, the dedicated chairs of our 19 standing and 32 ad hoc committees. My sincere thanks to all of you for a job well done! I reserve special thanks and praise for our tireless, amazingly organized, and truly dedicated Executive Director, Linda Wiley Surace. Thank you, Linda, for making me look good!
The presidency is a tremendous amount of work, but it truly was a labor of love for me. I have done my best to forge relationships that will take the WWBA forward for years to come. I am ready, willing, and, yes, able to continue to assist the future presidents of this dynamic organization for as long as you may need me.
Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to serve as your President.