By Kim M. Tran
Beth Barrett Bloom will receive the 2016 KCBA President’s Award for her leadership on a number of KCBA committees, including her most recent work on the Referendum and Initiatives Project (“RIP”), a subcommittee of the KCBA Public Policy Committee. The members on the RIP subcommittee include Eric Christensen, Johanna Coolbaugh, John Cary, Rory O’Sullivan, Joe Skocilich, Ed Sterner and Dawn Sydney. KCBA’s Public Policy Committee is led by Neal Black.
Beth found clarity for KCBA on a topic wrought with complexities and political agenda. Any discussion about ballot initiatives can certainly be a polarizing one. In some elections, the subject matter of a ballot measure can sometimes seem almost secondary to the agendas of the people or corporations speaking for or against the measure.
The KCBA RIP subcommittee — led by Beth — focused on improving the political processes and identified reforms that could bring back to the forefront the voice of the voter. In describing the approach taken by the subcommittee, Beth noted: “When we began this endeavor, we believed that a neutral group of attorneys could champion improvements to the process through sustained effort without the concerns and political interests of those individuals advocating for or against any particular ballot proposal.”
Under Beth’s leadership, the subcommittee undertook a focused, exhaustive and, most importantly, unbiased approach into examining and analyzing current processes to find areas in which the ideals of direct representation could prevail over partisan politics.
Let’s break down the work of the RIP subcommittee by the numbers: three years; 40 pages; 12 recommendations.
The subcommittee hosted panel discussions, inviting at least a dozen speakers to present to the subcommittee. Speakers included those with direct procedural experience from the Washington offices of the secretary of state, attorney general and Public Disclosure Commission. Beth sought out expertise from multiple academic panels with professors from the University of Colorado, Penn State University, Western Washington University and the University of Washington.
The subcommittee members examined reports and studies that had addressed this issue. The subcommittee’s work cumulated into a 40-page report with 12 reform recommendations. It was then presented, on multiple occasions, to the broader Public Policy Committee and the Board of Trustees. Beth’s leadership has served not only our legal community, but the broader community well.
Beth’s extraordinary work on the RIP subcommittee showed her tremendous commitment to KCBA. In addition to chairing the subcommittee, Beth also has served as a KCBA trustee (2009–2012), a member of the Leadership Development and Nominations Committee (2013–2016), chair of an ad hoc committee analyzing KCBA’s diversity programs (2010–2011), Future of the Law Institute Task Force (2010–2011) and Pro Bono Services Committee (2009–2010), as well as the Labor and Employment Law Section.
Beth’s commitment to diversity is clear. She is a co-founder and past president of QLaw: The GLBT Bar Association of Washington, and served as a fellow in the inaugural class of the Washington State Bar Leadership Institute. Beth practices employment law and is a partner with Frank Freed Subit and Thomas LLP in Seattle.
In recognition of the time and expertise that Beth has generously shared with KCBA, it is my pleasure to award the 2016 KCBA President’s Award to Beth Barrett Bloom.