Bar Bulletin

August, 2004

MSBA Program Grooms Tomorrow's Leaders
~Leadership Academy hones the skills of those who will one day inherit the mantle~

By Tom Breihan

The Maryland State Bar Association’s Leadership Academy, a 12-month program designed to develop the leadership abilities of a diverse and promising group of Association members, has begun another session. The program’s 15 fellows will attend a number of leadership-enhancing programs. They will also benefit from the experience of the Leadership Academy Committee, each member of which will be assigned to mentor one of the Academy’s fellows. At the end of the program, the fellows will complete a public service project.

“We look for a variety of things [in potential fellows]: geographic diversity, gender diversity, ethnic diversity, what they had done in the general community and the legal community up to this point, years as a member of the Maryland Bar,” says the Honorable Toni Clarke, who has both chaired and co-chaired the Leadership Academy twice. “We try to get people who are new to the bar in Maryland. We look at trying to get a diverse group who has demonstrated some level of commitment to the community.”

The fellows who were selected for the program met one another at an opening reception on July 15, and they will attend Gennessee Valley Outdoor Adventure Center, a team-building program in Baltimore County. “[Gennessee Valley] is a great way to break the ice,” says Kathleen Chapman, the program’s current co-chair along with Alison Leonard Leach. “You’re bringing 15 individuals who probably have never met one another. We’re bringing these 15 diverse individuals from all areas of the state, all areas of practice, and bringing them together.”

In future months, the fellows will attend programs on public speaking, stress management, negotiations and many other subjects. They will also attend the Bar Presidents’ Conference and meet with Chief Judge Robert M. Bell, Court of Appeals of Maryland.

The Leadership Academy was started in 1996 by then-MSBA President Robert Gonzales. “[Gonzales’s] idea was that [the program] would draw from a diverse field of young, bright individuals who really are leaders in their own right,” explains Chapman. “They have established themselves, either in their legal communities or their home communities, but they were not involved in the Maryland State Bar Association. It was to tap into this wealth of leadership skills that are out there but for whatever reason, these young, bright minds weren’t stepping up to the plate, in large part because they didn’t know they could do that.”

Both Chapman and Leach are graduates of the Leadership Academy. “This is the very first time that the Leadership Academy is being chaired by two former fellows,” says Chapman. “I think what we can bring to the program is that wealth of knowledge, having already gone through the program. We know what expectations we had walking into the program. We know what expectations were met while we were in the program as fellows. And we know at the end of the program just how pleased we were that we were chosen for such a fine program.”

After graduating the Leadership Academy, Chapman went on to serve as president of the Frederick County Bar Association. Graduates of the Institute have gone on to occupy such prominent positions in the state as president of the Prince George’s County Bar Association, co-chair of the MSBA Public Awareness Committee and chair of the MSBA Solo and Small Firms section. Also, four graduates, including Chapman, have been awarded The Daily Record’s Spotlight on Leadership.

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: August, 2004

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