President's Message - December 2020/January 2021
by Hon. Lisa Margaret Smith
Dear friends, many years from now we will look back at 2020 and wonder how we survived this unusually challenging year. Somehow we have emerged, and we are now in 2021, looking toward a better year ahead than the one we just lived through. For those of you who have survived illness, or who have lost loved ones, or who have lost jobs and suffered economic challenges, our hearts and prayers are with you all. The year ahead is brighter and more hopeful than we could have expected even just a few months ago, with the approval of multiple vaccines, and the prospect that we might see sufficient use of vaccines to allow something akin to normalcy in June, or July, or August of 2021. As WWBA President I did not anticipate that this year would be spent mostly at my computer, attending Zoom meetings and CLEs or other events virtually, but WWBA has done well thus far, and I have no doubt that we will continue to do well in the coming months. The next time we gather in person, whether for a Board meeting, a CLE, a social event, or an annual dinner (which might be delayed this year, but we expect that it will happen), we will truly celebrate our emergence from isolation, even if the celebrations include elbow bumps rather than hugs and handshakes! Thank you for continuing to support and engage with WWBA. I look forward to seeing each one of you in person at some point in the coming year.
In December 2020, WWBA held five separate events in addition to our Board meeting. As I write this message, we already have four events scheduled for January, as well as the Board meeting. All of the events I have attended this year have been interesting and worthwhile-especially the ones in areas of the law with which I have no familiarity! Our Committee Chairs have continued to find interesting and qualified panelists to keep our members engaged and learning. Our monthly Leading Ladies in the Law lunch series took a break in December, but will continue in January, and I encourage you to attend at least one of these presentations, which celebrate the 45th year of WWBA (WWBA was founded 5 years before WBASNY, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year). For the time being we will continue to conduct our meetings and events remotely. Committee Chairs are invited to be creative about preparing and presenting programs in the coming months. I also hope to come up with some fun events, perhaps a trivia contest or some other get-together.
As of this writing, WWBA’s membership includes only enough voting members to warrant 6 State Directors rather than the 8 we have had this year and last year. For those of you who are not familiar with what that means, let me explain. WWBA is one of 20 chapters which are members of WBASNY. Our parent organization, WBASNY, is governed by an Executive Committee, made up of the WBASNY Officers and the Chapter Presidents. In addition, certain issues are presented to and decided by the WBASNY Board, made up of the Executive Committee plus Directors elected by each individual Chapter to represent the interests of that Chapter. Each Chapter is entitled to one Director for each 50 full voting members of the Chapter; thus, increased membership translates into increased voting power at the WBASNY Board meetings. This year we have 8 State Directors; only two Chapters have more, those are the Brooklyn and New York Chapters. We would like to maintain our 8 State Directors, and therefore we encourage you to talk to friends and colleagues to encourage them to join (or re-join) WWBA, so that we can continue our status with WBASNY, and of course they get the benefits of membership, including fantastic CLEs and non-CLE presentations, social events (virtual this year), considerations for awards through nominations made to WBASNY, and networking. Additionally, our membership chairs, Marian Genio, Sherry Bishko, and Kristen Motel, have been doing a great job-when they reach out to you for help, please follow their directions to encourage non-renewing members to re-up.
As I write this message, I am listening to Christmas carols and looking at my Christmas tree, adorned with ornaments from many stages of my life, including ornaments that my now-adult children made when they were in preschool. My son is now 24, my daughter is 21, and they will both be home to help us celebrate Christmas. Earlier this week, at the encouragement of a Jewish friend, I got the menorah my son made in preschool out of the attic and lit candles for the last three nights of Hanukkah, because we should all celebrate the Festival of Lights, we should all find reasons to bring light into our lives. Despite our 2020 challenges, despite the pandemic, the election, the snowstorm and other natural calamities, despite distance from loved ones, cancelled vacations, virtual celebrations, including our own 2020 induction ceremony, we endure, as an organization, as a people, and as a country. I am filled with hope for the year ahead, and I know that WWBA will continue with joy and creativity to serve our members in ways large and small. Happy New Year to one and all, may 2021 bring you peace, happiness, safety, and good health.