Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin

August, 2004

Leadership Academy Wins National Acclaim
~MSBA's mentoring project honored~
By Janet Stidman Eveleth

MSBA’s Leadership Academy [see also "Tomorrow's Leaders" article], a mentoring program that offers young attorneys leadership skills, recently won national acclaim. Last month, the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) honored MSBA’s Leadership Academy as “an innovative Association skills training project that propels America forward” and elected it to ASAE’s 2004 Associations Advance America Honor Roll. ASAE’s annual Associations Advance America awards program recognizes association activities that have a powerful impact on everyday life yet often go unnoticed by the public.

Through Associations Advance America, ASAE showcases association programs that add real value to society and play a vital role in helping the nation adapt to complex and changing times. MSBA’s Leadership Academy was honored as a perfect example of achieving this goal. This successful mentoring program was created to promote and strengthen diversity within the MSBA’s volunteer leadership and the greater legal community.

“The Leadership Academy is an awesome program,” proclaims MSBA President Neil Helfrich, “and we are only just beginning to see the results of years of hard work by the committee, its chairs, the mentors and especially the class members. On behalf of the Association, I thank the volunteer members for taking the time to do such a great job. We and the profession are all the better for your commitment.” The Leadership Academy Committee’s prominent co-chairs have included Judges Charles Day, Toni Clarke and Marielsa Bernard, the late Edward Shea, Tracey Skinner and current co-chairs Kathleen Chapman and Alison Leonard Leach.

In 1996, MSBA created the Leadership Academy to offer leadership training skills to young attorneys and prepare them as effective future leaders of the legal profession. Through this young attorney mentoring program, a team of prominent volunteer attorneys and judges serve as mentors and guide the young attorneys in leadership training. This comprehensive leadership and professional development effort focuses on everything from communication skills, public speaking, managing an organization and interviewing skills to meeting planning and fiscal management.

To date, 132 Fellows have graduated from MSBA’s Leadership Academy. Interested attorneys undergo a competitive application process and the 15 successful “Fellows” meet regularly with their Committee of “mentors,” who guide them in the leadership learning process. The mentors offer guidance on an individual basis and the group meets monthly to engage in a formal program or general discussion.

Through this 12-month, “team-building” experience, the Fellows attend numerous MSBA events, establish mentoring relationships with volunteer bar leaders and hone their leadership and communication skills. This intensive training program, which has strong ties to the state’s minority bar associations, includes educational sessions, guest appearances by prominent judges and attorneys and interaction with community and MSBA leaders. Every Academy class also plans and implements a public service program geared to help people in a law-related area.

The Leadership Academy was the brainchild of MSBA’s Immediate Past President Harry S. Johnson and was officially introduced in 1996 by then-MSBA President Robert T. Gonzales. The program has been enthusiastically supported by all MSBA presidents since then, as well as MSBA’s staff. “Creating and supporting the Leadership Academy is an affirmative action of the MSBA which goes much farther than just stating that we are an open and inclusive organization,” states Paul V. Carlin, MSBA Executive Director. “This effort has benefited all who have been involved with it.”

Many MSBA Leadership Academy graduates have advanced to key leadership roles in MSBA and in community organizations. They are giving back to the community by volunteering to help people involved in various organizations. Thanks to the Academy, they are now promising leaders of the future, fulfilling ASAE’s goal of propelling the nation forward by advancing American society. Thus, it is fitting that the Leadership Academy now graces ASAE’s esteemed Associations Advance America Honor Roll.



Publications : Bar Bulletin: August, 2004

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