Of all of the Chair’s Columns I have written, this one is by far the hardest. I am speechless and words fail when it comes to trying to express my gratitude to the Staff, Officers, Council, Leaders and countless volunteers in the Health Law Section. On the other hand, the words are too numerous to write when it comes to detailing all that the Leaders and volunteers have accomplished this year through the Section. I’ll give it my best shot.
Section Members (over 10,000 strong), you are the reason we exist. Our Section’s mission statement says it all - we are “dedicated to enhancing the practice of health lawyers and improving the understanding and development of health laws.” Thank you for participating in our webinars and live programs, purchasing and reading our publications, participating in our task force on health law reform, and supporting our educational outreach programs and projects in the areas of Breast Cancer Initiatives, Substance Use Disorders and Mental Health issues, and Military and Veteran’s Health issues. I urge you to stay involved, let us know of the materials and conferences you need to better serve your clients, and please, personally invite someone to join you in Section membership. It’s the most collegial professional group I know.
Section Leaders, you have given unselfishly of your time and talents to advance the mission of the Section. You are the heartbeat of the Section. All that we are able to accomplish comes through your able hands. My hat is off to you in gratitude for your commitment to the Section. Thank you for rolling up your sleeves this year. You aren’t afraid to offer new ideas, carry out mundane tasks, speak up if you think we need correction and always offer words of encouragement.
Section Officers, we didn’t know what this year would hold when we took the reins last August. We were facing a presidential election and congressional elections that could and did affect the substantive area of the law that we are charged to help improve through our mission statement. You rose to the challenge and helped the Section navigate the ever-changing landscape. We also didn’t know the challenges we would have to address within the larger ABA. You expended countless hours helping us make the best decisions for the Section and working through the challenges into our Strategic Plan so that we have set the Section on a great trajectory for the foreseeable future. Thank you for your insight, suggestions, hands-on work and encouragement.
Section Delegates, Tony Patterson and Robyn Shapiro – the first word that comes to mind is “WOW.” The work you put in reading reports and resolutions, comments, and draft model legislation, working with your colleagues in the House of Delegates, attending countless meetings and advising the Section on best steps to take is nothing short of amazing. You have always had the Section’s and its members' best interests in mind as you navigated the work of the House of Delegates, even if your personal beliefs differed. You represent us so well. We applaud you for your work. On a personal note, Tony, as you conclude your final year of your final term as the Section’s delegate to the House of Delegates, we all thank you for your undying devotion to the Health Law Section and its mission. You have consistently made us better and pushed us to reach new heights. You have personally overseen the growth of the Section from its infancy as a forum, served as Chair of the Section from 2004-2005, and represented us well in your roles in the larger ABA. We all owe you a debt of gratitude for your personal sacrifice on behalf of the Section and we wish you and Marylou all the best. We aren’t saying good-bye as we know you will continue to lend your ear and your advice to the Section.
Section Staff, I’m not sure how you work with over 10,000 lawyers, associates and law students and still keep smiling. I don’t want to say this too loud (for fear other Sections will catch on and woo you away from us) but we have the best Section staff in the ABA. You put in long hours to make our live programs, training sessions, Council meetings, distance learning sessions, etc. the best they can be. You cover for our shortfalls and remind us when we are scheduled to do something. You make us look good; in fact, you make us better. Thanks for your commitment to the mission of the Section. I personally owe each of you a great debt for your tireless efforts on my behalf as Chair of the Section. Thanks most of all for being a friend.
New Section Chair, Hilary Young, you have been a great co-worker, advisor, counselor and friend this year as Chair-Elect. You will be a fantastic Chair. I look forward to the new heights to which you will take the Section. All the best (and you have my cell number if you need it!)
And finally, to my Family, Daniel, my husband, Dan, Drew and Alyssa, my children, you have been my greatest source of encouragement and strength. Thanks for putting up with the late nights and early mornings and the time away from home. You are the best and I love you very much.
It’s hard to say good-bye so I’ll leave you with a favorite Irish Blessing of mine: “May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your face, the rains fall soft upon your fields, and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”
C. Joyce Hall
P.S. Your last bit of Mississippi trivia: you should all feel safe because at Pascagoula, Mississippi on our gulf coast, the Ingalls Division of Litton Industries uses leading-edge construction techniques to build the United State Navy's most sophisticated ships.