The DBA Staff: They Make Us Look Good!
by John Baker
The past six months, I’ve dedicated this column to identifying and recognizing Denver Bar Association members who exemplify the "Citizen Lawyer."
DBA’s citizen lawyers serve Bar committees, sections and activities, working selflessly for the common good of the Denver community.
Each citizen lawyer and every past Bar leader I’ve spoken with feel that their civic efforts would be impossible without the somewhat anonymous and selfless work of the DBA staff. They’ve got our backs!
Who Are the "Good Citizens" of the DBA Staff?
Most of the members of the bar association know about the insatiable civic mindedness of Executive Director Chuck Turner and of Deputy Executive Director Greg Martin, because they are often the most visible at Bar functions and meetings. Fewer members know that Chuck and Greg are recognized by their peers for running one of the top bar organizations in the country.
The best evidence of this national reputation comes from Dana Collier Smith, Assistant Executive Director. Dana recently was elected by her peers across the nation to serve as Vice President of the National Association of Bar Executives. This volunteer position is a three-year term, of which the third year is spent as president of NABE.
Over the years Chuck, Greg and Dana have taken "working for the public good" seriously in leading the DBA charge on important civic issues, such as the "Vote No on 40" campaign against judicial term limits and the "Vote Yes on C & D" campaign for state budget reform.
Who are the rest of those selfless DBA staffers, who work shoulder-to-shoulder with us at the association?
The staff makes us look efficient by keeping our DBA committees, the Board of Trustees and Young Lawyers Division running. Most member volunteers come and go over the years. Without the DBA staff assigned to the various committees, boards and divisions, there would be chaos due to a lack of continuity. Melissa Nicoletti, Amy Sreenen, Andrea Mueller, Denise Richardson and Richard Dyrland are the glue of the DBA, who provide the consistency and continuity.
They make us look good online and in the media with Bar publications, publicity, website, etc. Christine McManus and Tara Miller handle media and P.R., coach us on working with the media, write newsletters and promote our image and events. Christine and Tara produce The Docket every month and make contributors like me look semi-literate. Mel Reveles and Catherine McHughs keep staff and the Bar effective "online" as the website managers. Graphic artist Alexa Drago and Beneva Hansen handle our advertizing needs.
They help us connect with the community through Public Legal Education. Carolyn Gravit and Meghan Bush (Seck) manage volunteer opportunities for attorneys in the Public Legal Education arena. Want to be a TV star on Lawline9 and help with pro se legal clinics? Or coach High School Mock Trial? Or teach Our Courts programs? Talk to Carolyn or Meghan. They offer us fantastic volunteer experiences.
They help us make our members happy and promote all our member benefits. Heather Clark, along with Penny ("Ms. Money-Penny") Young and Amber Vanden Hout, help us all with all membership-related questions, including dues and benefits. A bit of a "jack-of-all-trades," Heather works on numerous special volunteer and fundraising projects, such as the DBA’s Community Action Network, Battle of the Attorney Bands and the Wheels of Justice charity event benefitting The Children’s Hospital. In her spare time, Heather directs sponsorships and marketing.
They keep the purse strings tight and help us with our budgets. Janet Bauer works with Greg Martin in making sense out of our committee and activity budgets. Janet also keeps cash flow straight for membership dues.
They make us comfortable with greetings and smiles. The face and voice of the DBA is provided jointly by Jill Kessler and Kate Mills, who among numerous PR tasks, answer our phone calls and greet us as we get off the elevators at the bar offices with a smile and a warm "Hello."
DBA Staffers Carry Civic Spirit into Their Spare Time
Many of the DBA staff members take "working for the common good" seriously in their private lives. Staff members give up their spare time for charities, youth sport teams and a wide variety of civic organizations.
Melissa Nicoletti volunteers at her children’s school, Guardian Angels Catholic School, as a member of the Parent Council, as the Athletic Director, and also as volunteer coach of softball, basketball and volleyball teams.
Carolyn Gravit serves as a founding member of the Young Professional Advisory Council for Make-A-Wish Foundation of Colorado and serves as a member of its board. And with Volunteers of America, she helps annually with adopting and decorating a room at the Brandon Center, a shelter for women and their children who are homeless or seeking refuge from domestic violence.
Tara Miller volunteers her spare time as a Board member of the Young Professionals Advisory Council for Make-A-Wish Foundation of Colorado. Tara was recently re-elected as communications chair for the Advisory Council.
Chuck Turner volunteers at the United Services Organization functions twice per month and has served on the Board of Directors of Rotary Club 31. For Rotary, Chuck is an active member of the World Service Committee, which funds humanitarian projects in third-world countries.
Heather Clark was recognized as the Volunteer of the Month in June 2006 and the Volunteer of the Year in 2006 for her work as a hotline peer counselor at Rape Assistance and Awareness Program (RAAP). Heather also volunteers and participates in numerous running and cycling events including the Courage Classic benefitting The Children’s Hospital.
Christine McManus volunteers much of her free time as a Board member of the Society of Professional Journalists Colorado Chapter. Having served on the board the past three years, she was recently elected as treasurer. Christine finds time to run in charity races on occasion.
Jill Kessler combines her love for all kinds of animals with regular volunteering for Denver Dumb Friends League.
Amber Vanden Hout and her kids spend time around the holidays donating and serving food at the Denver Rescue Mission. In addition, Amber participates in the Make-A-Wish Foundation kickball tournament and in the Walk for a Cure.
The DBA staffers make us look good. They make us proud. Next time you are at a DBA function, get to know these good citizens of the Bar.