January 24, 2013

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Member focus

The Power of ALA Connections: Remembering Susan French
By Rita Alli, Julie Brandsness, Char Coulbert and Carol Anne Nitsche, CLM

On January 19, 2013, the ALA community lost former ALA President Susan French to a battle with cancer. "Susan was a tremendous leader for ALA, and her hard work and dedication moved us forward as we transitioned leadership on the heels of tough economic times," said ALA President Steve Wingert, CLM. "Her courage was an inspiration to many, and her sense of humor will always be a memory to make us smile."

And it was that kindness, courage and optimism that brought the ALA community together after Susan was diagnosed with myelofibrosis, a form of leukemia, in February 2012. After months of testing and medical/family/soul consultation, Susan accepted the advice of her doctors to undergo a bone marrow transplant. After identification of the sole bone marrow donor match, Susan was admitted to Baylor Medical Center in Dallas, Texas on September 23, 2012.

Susan has a long history of dedicated service and strong leadership in ALA that has resulted in a large network of ALA colleagues. We suspected that many, like ourselves, would want to find a meaningful way to demonstrate their support to Susan during this long and difficult process. While sitting at a café in Seattle last summer, the idea came to us to put out a call for individual squares of fabric displaying support for Susan. The result: Susan's ALA Caring Quilt.

Susan's Quilt We contacted individuals who served with Susan during her term on the Board of Directors, along with other close ALA colleagues, her local chapter affiliations (Oklahoma City and Tulsa) and her firm, Fellers Snider. The response was overwhelming and heart warming. Everyone we contacted wanted to contribute. In total, they contributed 40 squares. Master quilter Carol Anne Nitsche, CLM took the laboring oar for both design and execution. Over a fall weekend at Julie Brandsness' cabin near Leavenworth, Washington, we each hand-stitched a side of the final quilt and watched it come together.

In early November, a few days after Susan was readmitted to the hospital, the quilt was delivered. Susan expressed her profound delight and appreciation and reported "crying like a baby." As the holidays approached, Julie sent a PowerPoint commemoration of the making of the quilt to Susan and each contributor. The presentation contains a photo of each square, along with a personalized message from each contributor to Susan. Within hours, there were an amazing number of emails expressing how this project touched not only Susan, but all of us. A few sentiments expressed:

John Michalik, former ALA Executive Director: "I would suspect that all of you can remember me saying, 'This is not your ordinary association,' and that is true and remains so because of the connections between people. And this is one of the great examples of that. We've all given something meaningful and tangible to Susan — but I think the shared experience is also great … It is to me."

Mike Palmer, former ALA President: "A lot of love and caring went into all of the squares, words, the finished product and slideshow. I'm sure she'll feel it every time she pulls the quilt around her. … What a great Association!"

Bill Migneron, former ALA President and current Chair of the Foundation of ALA: "I'm reminded of that wonderful line from the last Mary Tyler Moore show when Lou told the crew, "I treasure you people." I'm sure Susan feels that way and it's safe to say we do as well. What a wonderful tribute to the true importance of ALA in all of our lives."

Marshall Fletcher, former ALA President: "This is truly amazing and a tribute to why each of us believes we receive so much more than we could ever contribute in time and talent to our 'very unique' Association."

Paul Morton, former Region 1 Director: "What is truly wonderful about this group is that we inspire each other to be better people, to reach beyond ourselves and to touch others in so many ways."

Karen Griggs, CLM, ALA Past President: "While Susan is the beneficiary of what many of you refer to as our labor of love, it is clear that all of us have been affected by Susan's journey and this extraordinary quilt. We know Susan appreciates the tangible comfort of the quilt and the care of her colleagues, but this quilt represents an intangible comfort for all of us as well."

Patti Groff, CLM, former ALA President: "This group endeavor highlights the precious gift of friendship which ALA inspires."

Wendy Rice-Isaacs, CLM, former ALA President: "What a marvelous collection of love."

Sadly, Susan's long and courageous battle to fight her illness ended on January 19, 2013. In the days prior to her death, Patti spoke to her and relayed the sentiment that would be shared in this article. Susan was deeply touched.

As Susan herself said, "We are always grateful for our Association, but in times like this, it is especially meaningful to have the support of our ALA friends." Now, in our grief, we continue to support each other and reflect on the true gift and power of our ALA connections.

Editor's note: The March 2013 issue of Legal Management magazine will include more information on Susan French. In the meantime, please visit Susan's page for more information about her activities at ALA and our online gallery of photo memories of Susan.

Regional Photos
Thank you, ALA members, for sharing your latest photos of chapter activities and events. Take a few minutes to peruse the photo galleries for recent highlights from each of ALA's six regions.
[View photo galleries]

Welcome, New Members
ALA is proud to welcome 38 new members who joined in the last month of 2012. Click through to view a complete roster of members who joined in December, and be sure to involve them at your next chapter event.
[View the new member list]


Association news

Renew Your ALA Membership
The deadline to renew your 2013 ALA membership is January 31 — one week from today. Renew to continue receiving all of the knowledge, resources and networking associated with ALA membership.
[Renew now]

Save Big with Annual Conference Early Bird Pricing
Don't miss out on savings! Register by February 4 for the 2013 ALA Annual Conference & Exposition to receive the early bird rate (a savings of $200). Make plans to join your colleagues in National Harbor, Maryland this spring.
[Register now]

Volunteers Needed
ALA seeks volunteers for the International Relations Committee (IRC). The IRC advises the Board of Directors and represents ALA's interests in matters related to international initiatives, cooperation and affiliations. The committee meets monthly by conference call, and in person at the Annual Conference.
[Learn more]

Document, Document, Document!
In our February 6 Webinar, learn how proper documentation is just as dangerous as no documentation. The key is not only what is written, but also how and when it is delivered. Participants can also earn two hours of CLM application credit in writing!


Committee corner

Update from the Foundation of ALA
It's an exciting time of year as ALA prepares for the Annual Conference & Exposition, which will be held April 14-17 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. The Foundation of ALA is pleased to sponsor the 2013 David W. Brezina Memorial General Session, which will feature Andrés Tapia, published writer, prominent speaker and author of The Inclusion Paradox.

In his riveting and passionate manner, Tapia will share the framework for high-impact diversity work and offer practical, groundbreaking approaches that business leaders can implement to harness the power of cross cultural competence — the critical ingredient for creating profitable, inclusive workplaces.

Attendees will hear how key trends and strategies can bring global, profitable and sustainable breakthroughs to their businesses, even in today's upside-down world. They will also explore how our global, hyper-competitive business environment requires workplaces to adopt the next generation of diversity practices.

Tapia's experiences in the United States, Canada, China, the UK, Spain, India, Kenya, Korea, throughout Latin America and his native Perú have equipped him with a true global perspective. He has also developed actionable insights into how varying worldviews can impact health, wealth, learning, safety and workplace performance.

President of Diversity Best Practices, a preeminent diversity and inclusion think tank and consultancy, Tapia previously served as the Chief Diversity Officer and Emerging Workforce Consulting Leader at Hewitt Associates. An engaging and prominent speaker, he is the author of The Inclusion Paradox: The Obama Era and the Transformation of Global Diversity.

Please visit the Foundation's website for more information about The Foundation of ALA. Thank you.

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