LDA CLASS 4: READY FOR THE BATON

The 2015 Leadership Development Academy class convened in its fifth and final session last Thursday, May 14, and Friday, May 15, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and received graduation certificates during a dinner held at the Embassy Theater Friday evening. Like their three predecessor classes, LDA 4 class members immersed themselves in crash courses on leadership, team building, civic leadership, community and economic development, creative problem-solving, diversity and inclusion, and public service through nonprofit organization leadership and pro bono legal services. It is my pleasure to introduce the LDA 4 class members (for those people who have not already met them) so that my fellow ISBA members can share my joy in watching their careers flourish:

JAMES T. ACKLIN JR., Indianapolis; JENNIFER BAYS BEINART, Zionsville; MARK E. BLOOM, Fort Wayne; MELISSA J. BUCKLEY, Indianapolis; CATHERINE A. CLEMENTS, Indianapolis; COLIN E. CONNOR, Indianapolis; TRACI M. COSBY, Indianapolis; SARAH W. CUDAHY, Indianapolis; CHARLES B. DAUGHERTY, Shelbyville; SARAH B. FANDREY, Evansville; RANDY M. FISHER, Fort Wayne; MICHELLE C. GOODMAN, Indianapolis; KATHERINE R. GOULD, Fort Wayne; RHEA M. JONES-PRICE, Vincennes; TRENT A. MCCAIN, Merrillville; SARA MCCLAMMER, Indianapolis; JUSTIN R. OLSON, Indianapolis; ABBIGAIL A. ROHMILLER, Richmond; GREG A. SCHRAGE, Noblesville; ELIZABETH A. SHUSTER, Indianapolis; FREEDOM S. SMITH, Indianapolis; SARAH N. SNOEBERGER, Lafayette; ALA’A WAFA, Indianapolis; SUE E. WHITE, Covington; and JORDAN P. WILLIAMS, Merrillville.

17223595919_0c7f50fc6f_zMy parting comments to the LDA 4 class address three leadership topics that all ISBA members will continue reading or hearing from me before I hand the gavel to Carol Adinamis at French Lick in October: 1. Perceive emerging legal profession problems and respond to them optimally before they become crises; 2. Seek opportunities to collaborate with diverse partners within and outside of the ISBA; and 3. Be vigilant about defining diversity and inclusion to ensure that we exclude no ISBA members from the benefits and responsibilities of active membership.

The emerging legal profession problems topic concerns the accelerating evolution that has been transforming every aspect of society throughout our nation’s history. The rising current of that accelerating evolution is carrying the legal profession through changes that will shape the careers of the new lawyers that will be admitted to practice tomorrow morning  (May 19, 2015) in Indianapolis. Our LDA alumni possess the requisite training and preparation carry the leadership baton through these changes, but we all need to encourage and support them in that pursuit.

17409441111_8c9ee01ea5_zThe rich diversity composing our ISBA membership challenges our leaders to engage all members effectively. It would be easy to round up the “usual suspects” for leadership roles and stick with what is comfortable and familiar. However, if we are serious about improving our profession and the world around us, we need every perspective to enhance our prospects. The transformative solutions to problems that we have not yet seen may emerge from intellectual cross-pollination of seemingly incompatible perspectives if we assemble smart, passionate people with nothing more in common than their ISBA membership.

Diversity and inclusion are moving targets that morph like a sandbar in shifting cultural tides. White, European-originated males still constitute the largest segment of American lawyers, but that demographic segment is a shrinking minority within the American population. Many political and cultural perspectives that influenced our nation fifty years ago seem anachronistic today.

Cultural homogeneity may feel good to the homogenous majority, but intellectual homogeneity spawns myopia, and prevents us from perceiving and resolving problems that require contributions of a truly diverse and integrated population. Biological inbreeding is as destructive to a gene pool as intellectual inbreeding is is destructive to an organization (history buffs may consider, for example, the Cabinet “groupthink” behind President John F. Kennedy’s disastrous 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion against Fidel Castro’s Cuba). Therefore, we must seek our overlooked and underrepresented members vigilantly, seat them at the table, and listen actively to what they have to say, even if we disagree with them or do not understand their perspectives. As we advance, we must recognize that the plurality of voices enriches us even if some voices seem dissonant to our ears. The ISBA is one big tent in which all must be welcome from the largest section to the smallest committee.

17223567859_89b6787e12_zI congratulate the LDA 4 class members and their predecessors for the hard work and dedication that has distinguished them. They know that we are all watching them and that we expect much of them. My time with LDA 4 this spring has convinced me that they can deliver more performance than we expect. They are wearing the latest track shoes and they are reaching for the baton in the leadership relay that began when President Benjamin Harrison accepted the gavel in 1896.

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  1. It’s Graduation Day! | McCain Law Offices - September 15, 2015

    […] his ISBA Prez Blog, President Jeff R. Hawkins wrote, “I congratulate the LDA 4 class members and their predecessors […]

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