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November 30, 2022

Year End Director's Column

by David Godfrey, Director, ABA Commission on Law and Aging

This issue of Bifocal is very different in format from what we normally do. This is our year end annual report. It is intended to be a very high-level overview of what we have done this year, how we did it, and why we did it.  We will return to our usual format in January. 

For the Commission on Law and Aging 2022 was a year of change. I assumed the role of Director at the end of January with the retirement of Charlie Sabatino, and Erica Costello started as our newest senior attorney a week later. In September we welcomed 5 new Commission Members and several new liaisons to our Commission.  While the Commission builds on a 44-year legacy, we are not limited by the way things have always been done.  In 2022 we have made some changes in organization and budgeting that should put us in a stronger position going forward. As you read this, Elizabeth Moran is beginning her duties as executive director of ARC of Colorado. During her time here, she has helped us explore the common ground between disabilities and aging and moved our thinking on guardianship reform forward by miles and miles. This is an incredible opportunity for her, and we wish her well.  In January we will be introducing you to our newest team member, an attorney with about 20 years of experience in this field, who will start just after the first of the year. 

I will let the program and project reports on the following pages speak for themselves.    

BC and PC

BC (before covid) Commission staff were in the office nearly every day and traveled across the country every year to learn and teach. Covid brought that to a halt, no travel and very limited time in our offices. We see ourselves entering post covid (PC). We have returned to the office on a hybrid work policy that allows face-to-face time, and flexibility to work remotely, the new normal in a PC world. While virtual training will always be a part of our work, it is hard to replace the feedback from an in-person audience. In 2022 we have slowly started to return to in-person conferences in Nevada, Kansas, Scotland, Canada, Massachusetts, and Texas. The numbers are still a fraction of our BC level of activity, but it is growing.  We see this trend continuing into 2023.  It is our hope to return the National Aging and Law Conference to an in-person format in 2023. We are making plans to present at several conferences, and to return to being a present at ABA Mid-Year and Annual Meetings. 

A Year of Generous Support

Support by individual donors reached a new high for the Commission on Law and Aging in 2022.  Five years ago, we refocused on individual donors, though the total is still a modest amount, our support by individual donors has grown by over 400% in five years.  This generates flexible funds for COLA, money we can use where it is needed most.  Most of our budget is limited by the terms of grants and contracts, these all-important flexible funds make a huge difference in our being able to do more than just the core functions.  THANK YOU to all who supported us this year, including the support received as part of ABA Giving Day that pushed us over the top to the best year ever for individual donations.