KCBA Executive Director 1966-1980


Helen M. Geisness was the first executive director of the Seattle-King County Bar Association. She held that position from 1966 until her retirement in 1981.

Born Helen Moulton, Mrs. Geisness was born in Seattle where she grew up in the Alki neighborhood and attended West Seattle High School. She pursued her undergraduate studies at the University of Washington, graduating in 1929 and entering UW's Law School that same year. Pursuing excellence and passion for the law from her earliest studies, she was named to the Order of the Coif upon graduation from the Law School in 1931. She also passed the bar examination that year.

Soon after, she married her college sweetheart and fellow law student, John T. Geisness. They had two children: Thomas, born in 1939, and Anne, born in 1945. Although she worked in the legal profession during and immediately out of law school, Mrs. Geisness did not actively practice law until John, a Seattle attorney, passed away in 1956. At that time, she began practicing as an assistant director of the Seattle-King County Legal Aid Bureau. In 1960 she became the first executive director of the Seattle-King County Lawyer Referral Service, holding that position until 1966 when she became KCBA's first executive director.

Mrs. Geisness felt honored and privileged to be the director of the Seattle-King County Bar Association. Working with the presidents and committees during her tenure was both challenging and exciting; her leadership roles and involvement proved immensely fulfilling to her as she advocated and helped develop a bar association to serve the people of Seattle and King County, and to provide an association for its lawyers to further improve the practice of law for King County.

Mrs. Geisness' family has followed in her footsteps and her passion for the law. Her son, Thomas M. Geisness, was admitted to the bar in 1968 and continues to practice at The Geisness Law Firm in downtown Seattle. Her grandson, Peter T. Geisness, was admitted to the bar in 2001. He returned from school and practice in California and joined The Geisness Law Firm in 2007. Her granddaughter, Jennifer Geisness, returned from Colorado last year and works at The Geisness Law Firm, too. Another grandson, Max Pangborn, is in his third year at Marquette Law School in Milwaukee. One may venture to guess he will soon be licensed to practice law in Washington as well.

Mrs. Geisness' family, those mentioned and unmentioned, are all extremely proud of her professional accomplishments. Her legacy lives on in KCBA's Helen M. Geisness Award, given for exemplary distinguished service on behalf of the King County Bar Association, as well as the Helen M. Geisness Minority Law Student Scholarship Fund scholarship at the University of Washington School of Law. Today, it is known as the King Country Bar Association's Minority Law Student Scholarship Fund.