It was my great pleasure to serve you during the last year as your President. It was a year of tremendous growth for SCMA, both in membership and its geographic boundaries, and I want to thank all of you for your support and encouragement. Leading SCMA has challenged me both personally and professionally and I hope that all of you believe that I met those challenges successfully.
I challenged myself to break new ground for the organization by using my business and entrepreneurial background to transform it into something that will be positioned to serve the community for many years in the future. Much of the organizational decision making had devolved into one-year planning cycles, totally dependent upon the current President, and while perhaps convenient, it deprived SCMA and its members of the benefits of long-term planning and initiatives. I vowed to collaboratively share the decision making and create an organizational structure that would not change with every Presidential term. We brought in budgets and strategic plans, all designed to ensure that membership dollars were spent in places that would have the greatest impact for our membership. We now have organizational charts and missions for each Board Committee, expectations, and responsibilities. Most of the results of this may not be fully realized until years from now, but we went from serving fewer than 500 in our annual programming, including our Annual Conference, to serving close to 1000. We have innovated with webinar programming and created stronger relationships with organizations near and dear to us, including California State University at Dominguez Hills, Pepperdine University Law School, the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, and our Advanced Track sponsors, the American Arbitration Association’s mediation.org.
I took a “sabbatical” in the spring from my teaching activities to devote myself to the tasks at hand, and I worked it as I would work any job—even a volunteer one—but I sure had unbelievable support. First, there were the President whisperers—a group of past SCMA Presidents who were always there for me if I needed help. Jason Harper, Floyd Siegal, Wendy Kramer, Phyllis Pollack, and Barbara Brown all took time to lend me a hand (or an ear) when needed, and I cannot thank them enough. Yes, I had the ability and “know how” to perhaps do some things here that had not been accomplished before, but none of it could have come to fruition without their support.
Your next President, Angela Reddock-Wright, took an amazing step with me last fall in sharing the responsibility for being a change agent, and not only has she been a great help, she will be a wonderful leader for SCMA. Andy Shelbytook on the Membership Committee with enthusiasm, and all year we have been at record levels in membership. Susan Guthrie, traveling between San Diego and Chicago, revitalized our Communications Committee, and Noah Stein (Treasurer) and Leslie Kushner (Secretary) gave strong support to our Executive Committee. Terri Breer took the entrepreneurial reins on a new Family Mediation Institute in Orange County, spreading our geographic wings and sparking our membership there. Mitch Tarighati continued to support and nurture our Mentorship Program, Jim Cameron and Mark Lemke led our efforts to network with bar associations, and Richard Erhard, Dale Ordas, and Ana Sambold all helped us establish a stronger nexus to the mediation community in San Diego. Recently elected new Board members Kelly Morfordand Joseph Jeong will add their skills to our great group and keep us moving forward.
But it takes a lot more than just Board members to help SCMA make a difference in our community. Many volunteers serve on committees and devote enormous amounts of time to SCMA, all to the betterment of our community. We have honored some members with President’s awards at our Annual Conference who have not run for our 2019 SCMA Board, but devote volunteer time because they want to help enrich our lives. But there are countless others…thank you for all your dedication, and I only regret that space limitations prevent me from mentioning everyone.
I hope to follow the example of our past Presidents by continuing to serve SCMA, but also do not want to get in the way of our wonderful new leadership team! Perhaps I will be called upon to be a “President whisperer!” I humbly pledge to do my best to continue to devote time to our community and make it a better place in which all of us choose to work.
Until we see each other again, thank you again for all your support.