January 2018 Bar Bulletin
January 2008 seems so long ago in many ways. George W. Bush was beginning his last year in office while Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were battling for the Democratic presidential nomination. Leaving not office, but life itself, were “The Ten Commandments” star and National Rifle Association president Charlton Heston, comedian George Carlin, and political journalist Tim Russert. And retiring after 19 years at the helm of KCBA was Executive Director Alice Paine.
That’s where I come into the movie here at KCBA. My first day in the office as executive director was January 2, 2008. And while my 10 years here have passed quickly, I think it’s not too self-indulgent to reclaim a little of that time back so I can reflect a bit on my experiences with fond memories.
Rebuilding our revenues so we could maintain and restore important member services as well as our external pro bono and diversity programs during the 2008–10 Great Recession was a top priority when I began. During the years that followed, we had success identifying new sources of funding, in particular from private entities such as the Seattle Foundation, governmental sources such as local municipal block grants, and most importantly a renewed commitment to personal charitable giving by our members.
Much of this enhanced philanthropy from the bar and bench took root during our celebration of KCBA’s 125th anniversary during 2011. We plunged into our archives for a year of remembrances. From special historical reflections in the Bar Bulletin to interviews with past presidents to recognition from public officials across the state (did you miss the county’s proclamation of KCBA Day in King County?), we had a terrific celebration that honored our proud heritage and looked forward to a promising future. (Most of the quasquicentennial materials are archived online at www.kcba.org/125.) A 125th Anniversary Endowment Campaign chaired by Kate Battuello and Harry Schneider raised more than a million dollars that we have invested to support our pro bono and diversity programs.
Speaking of bar leaders, I have had the privilege of working now with 11 KCBA presidents, from Eileen Concannon in 2008 to Andy Maron in 2017–18. Both of them, and the nine others between them, have been amazing partners to work with in advancing the bar’s mission, and I could not have succeeded without their tireless, passionate and supportive leadership. Thank you to Eileen and Andy, plus Dan Gandara, James Andrus, Mark Fordham, Richard Mitchell, Joe Bringman, Anne Daly, Steve Rovig, Kim Tran and Kate Battuello. Also deserving of my appreciation are the dozens of KCBA trustees and committee chairs who have served during this period.
Before I use up the remainder of my column space, I want to remember a few more of the bar’s accomplishments during this past decade that have meant a lot to me. One of our most important KCBA successes was King County voter approval of a new Children & Family Justice Center. KCBA partnered closely with Superior Court to make the case for this $200-million project, which when eventually built will allow us to provide a state-of-the-art justice center for at-risk children and their families.
Our 2013 move into new office space brought improved staff morale and meeting space that was more inviting to our members. Advocacy work on legal financial obligations, death penalty abolition, and referendum/initiative reform were important accomplishments, as was our work promoting RPC changes following I-502 marijuana legalization. A complete overhaul of our website this past year has been well received by our members. And now I’m out of space — it feels like the orchestra is playing me off the stage at an awards show!
I’ve truly enjoyed my first 10 years at KCBA and hope I’ve been able, with the help of many bar leaders and an amazing staff, to build on the work of my predecessors so we can keep advancing our mission of justice, professionalism and service. The future is bright for the King County Bar Association and I look forward to being a part of it with each of you. ?
Andrew Prazuch is KCBA’s executive director. He can be reached by email (email@example.com) or phone (206-267-7061).