By Ona Alston Dosunmu
You know it’s late in the year when you begin scheduling things on your calendar for “early in the New Year” or “after the holidays.” I’ve reached the point where I’m counting the few precious days I’ll actually be in the office to work between now and year-end. No matter how hard I try to be selective about the invitations I accept or how many times I commit to continuing to exercise and eat right during the holidays and all the other pre-New Year’s resolutions I make about approaching the season sanely, the period from mid-November to Christmas inevitably passes in a blur of activity. That said, one tradition I cherish is the act of pausing to give thanks. This year, that exercise will be particularly meaningful for me. I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to lead the California Lawyers Association and thankful to our amazing volunteers and awesome professional team, without whom the organization would not exist.
On New Year’s Day of 2019, I boarded a plane for Sacramento and began what has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional life. The extraordinary, wonderful, delightful, smart and interesting people involved with the California Lawyers Association are the main reason my first year at the helm has been so gratifying. Our volunteer leaders have shown an unparalleled passion and dedication to our association. Whether they’re talking through legislative advocacy issues, working with fifth graders on civics or reaching out to affinity bar associations to solicit more diversity for Section Executive Committees, members give so much of their time and talent to CLA.
Our Board Representatives and Board Officers not only spend hours every week advancing the organization but they have been kind and generous to me on a personal level. Whether it’s suggesting bike routes or connecting me with doctors or giving me lists of favorite restaurants and places to visit, these individuals have ensured that in a few short months, California has become home. That, to paraphrase a popular commercial, is priceless. I cannot thank them enough for this generosity.
The professional team in Sacramento has risen to every challenge we’ve given them. We have gone from strength to strength in putting wins on the board in the advocacy space—including filing our first amicus brief. The operations team has supported our sections in continuing to produce top-notch programming, excellent publications and fun networking events. They’ve worked hand-in-glove with volunteer leadership to produced the first Solo and Small Firm Summit under the auspices of CLA and they flawlessly pulled off a bigger and better Annual Meeting. Our marketing and tech colleagues have launched a modern and professional-looking website and branding. Thanks to the efforts of our bar relations and strategic partnership function, we are on the map and major players in the California legal ecosystem. And we have carefully and conservatively managed our finances and are on track to have our first financial audit. I can’t thank the team enough for not only doing excellent work which makes our leaders and the organization look good but for making CLA’s office in Sacramento a pleasant, supportive and fun place to work.
As I count the many things for which I’m grateful this year, the extended CLA community—volunteer and professional—is near the top of the list.