Chair's Column - "Our Fantastic Staff"
by Paul R. DeMuro, Latham & Watkins LLP, San Francisco, CA
If you are like me, you may wonder how it is that your name badge is always ready and waiting when you go to an ABA Health Law Section (Section) conference. Well, of course it is our expectation if we registered for the conference, but it is nice to be able to have the expectation. If we have signed up for a teleconference, it is great to know we can actually dial into it, and if we have a question, there is always someone to ask. If they do not know the answer, they will find out, and make us feel good about asking.
... But just who are these people?... They are our very dedicated and fantastic staff upon which our members and certainly your leadership have grown to rely. They are Jill Peña, Sena Leach, Adam Bielawski, and Abigail Palagi.
Section Director Jill Peña is responsible for the overall direction and activities of the Section. She works closely with the Section's Governing Council on strategic planning and on developing the goals of the Section. Jill advises the Council on ABA policy and procedures. She works closely with members in developing comments to government regulations and on Reports and Recommendations to the ABA House of Delegates. Jill works directly with the Editorial Board and writes the Section News column of The Health Lawyer. She oversees the Section staff, working with Sena, Adam and Abbey to accomplish the numerous projects of the Section.
Jill was the first dedicated staff person hired when the Forum became a Section in 1997. She has been with the ABA for over seventeen years. Prior to working with the Section, Jill was on the staffs of the Litigation, Natural Resources, Energy & Environment and the Public Utility, Communication & Transportation Sections. Jill worked for the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Toxicology Research Laboratory prior to her tenure at the ABA.
Assistant Director Sena Leach oversees the Section's continuing legal education (CLE) programming, including all "live" conferences and teleconferences. She is the staff contact for all program planning committees. Additionally, she is responsible for the planning and execution of all aspects of the Section's three conferences and Council meetings. Sena assists with membership marketing initiatives. She works closely with Jill on policy, planning and governance issues. Sena is Jill's main backup.
Sena has been with the Health Law staff since April, 2006 and with the ABA since 2000. She has fifteen years of association management experience, primarily in educational program development, meeting management and government relations.
Adam Bielawski, Communications and Interest Group Manager, is responsible for general publications, including the Section web site. He administers the book program and produces the Section's electronic newsletter, ABA Health eSource, each month. Adam is the primary point person for the membership committee, working with the committee to evaluate member benefit and recruitment efforts. The majority of Adam's time is spent advising leaders and coordinating the work of the Section's eleven Interest Groups.
After serving in the US Navy, Adam earned his degree in computer science and worked as CIO for a marketing firm that specialized in web services and networks.
Our Administrative Assistant Abigail Palagi is the primary contact for members with questions about programs, membership and publications. She is at the center of all of the Section activities, providing assistance as needed to ensure that the Section is successful in meeting its goals. Abbey is responsible for the registration process on site at meetings and assists Sena in the planning of all live programs. Abbey has been with the Section for two years. She is a graduate of Loyola University in Chicago. Her excellent member service skills come after working for several years in the service and hospitality industries.
Although we cannot calculate the true value of our Section staff, there are numerous instances of how these wonderful folks make our lives easier. For example, it seemed that one of the recurring comments about this past year's Washington Summit was praise for Abbey—how helpful she was, her attentiveness, and her friendliness. Adam is always reminding me to pen my Chair Column's for eSource and The Health Lawyer, so I do not hold up the publication. He also keeps all of our technology, including our website performing. Sena led the efforts in meeting all the deadlines for mailing the Emerging Issues Program brochure, which resulted in approximately $10,000 in savings to the Section. Jill has been there at every turn in my Section career from Interest Group Chair, to Council Member, to Budget Officer, to Chair-Elect to Chair. It seems that if there needs to be an ad hoc meeting or dinner, it has been planned before you can mention it. She is a true leader and friend.
I hope that all of you will attend our Emerging Issues Program in Orlando next month, and when you do, please come up and say hello to Abbey, Adam, Sena, and Jill. Oh by the way .... don't forget me!
Thoughts, concerns, observations ... My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
My best regards and thanks for reading.
Next month: Member Comments, Observations, and Consensus About the Health Law Section. Email me and I will try to include as many as I can.
Paul R. DeMuro