50 years. 35 years. 25 years.
Following in the footsteps of legendary longtime bar executive directors can prove daunting, but it can also be an opportunity for new perspectives, say some new EDs who have recently stepped into those sizable shoes.
“I had no preconceived notions of the programs or the traditions or anything that we had been spending money on. It made it easier to be an objective evaluator,” says Joe Skeel, who in 2017 became the Indiana State Bar Association’s third executive director in 50 years. He replaced Tom Pyrz, who retired after 25 years.
That objectivity was also important for Anne Noble, who became executive director of the Bar Association of Erie County (N.Y.) in 2018, succeeding Katherine Strong Bifaro, who held that post for 35 years.
“By being new, I had the good fortune of digging into things that you might not dig into. We were looking with a fresh set of eyes,” Noble says.
June Moynihan succeeded an interim executive director at the San Antonio (Texas) Bar Association, following the 2016 retirement of Jimmy Allison after 50 years. “I walked into a situation that was pretty primed for change,” she recalls. While the bar’s Board of Governors was looking for some new insights, she says, it also helped that it was Allison who had hired her as the director of the bar’s foundation a few years earlier, providing a link of continuity.