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The Procurement Lawyer Summer 2023

News from the Chair

Annejanette Heckman Pickens


  • Discusses three goals of the Section Chair for the previous year: enlighten, engage, and empower Section members
News from the Chair
Phonlamai Photo via Getty Images

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This column is my last as Chair of the Section of Public Contract Law, and I will start by thanking the members of the Section, both for your membership in the Section and for the privilege of serving as your leader this year. The countless hours, thoughtful input, and continuing dedication contributed by our members and volunteer leaders enable this Section to carry out important work that benefits the broader procurement community, whether by drafting informative comments on nuanced legal issues, presenting insightful educational programs examining complex procurement issues, or hosting networking events that connect members of the public and private bars and our affiliated contracting and finance members. These collective efforts by our members have made this Section the premier public contract bar organization. It has been an honor to serve as your leader this year.

In my prior columns, I communicated my three goals for this year—to enlighten, to engage, and to empower Section members. I am delighted to report that we have made strong progress on all three goals, and I am confident that we will advance further on each in the remainder of this ABA year. I have highlighted a few of our recent successes below.

Goal 1: To Enlighten

My first goal is to enlighten the Section, with top-notch educational programs, robust Committee activity, and renewed focus on publications that offer timely insights to our members. One significant, recent achievement in this area was our 29th Annual Federal Procurement Institute (FPI) in Annapolis, Maryland, from March 8-10, 2023. Over 30 insightful speakers presented nine sessions on complex, timely procurement topics. I thank Conference Director Noah Bleicher and our Conference Co-Chairs Alexander Canizares, Kristen Ittig, Beth Newsom, Bryant Snee, and Emily Theriault for bringing this excellent program to fruition.

Attending the lively sessions and networking events, I found it hard to believe that only one year prior the Section was taking its initial steps toward resuming in-person programming at last year’s FPI. This year’s event was an outstanding reminder of two of the benefits of Section membership that many Section members hold most dear: (1) the opportunity to hear from experts on timely, thought-provoking topics; and (2) the opportunity to gather and network with fellow professionals in the complex, nuanced field of public contracts.

Looking ahead to August, this year’s Annual Meeting promises to be another outstanding occasion where we can learn from experts and connect with peers. The Annual Meeting will be in Denver, Colorado, from August 3-5, 2023. Our educational panels will focus on innovation in federal procurement and leading-edge developments, including the evolving space industry and artificial intelligence in government contracting. Conference Director Michelle Coleman and Conference Co-Chairs Teddie Arnold, Amy Hoang, Craig Smith, and Sonia Tabriz are pulling out all the stops to bring us a thought-provoking program. I hope you will join us!

Goal 2: To Engage

My second goal is to engage Section members, with increased in-person events and continued opportunities for meaningful remote participation. Our inaugural Committee Showcase is a recent, resounding success in this area. We held the Showcase on May 16, at the Washington, D.C., office of Hogan Lovells. Four of our Committees (Bid Protests, Acquisition Reform and Emerging Issues, Commercial Products and Services, and Accounting, Costs, and Pricing) presented informative sessions with astute speakers that spotlighted the excellent programming that these Committees offer on a regular basis at their Committee meetings. The programs were followed by a reception that provided a welcome opportunity to catch up with old friends and to make new acquaintances. The Showcase was a complimentary event for members—one more benefit of being a Section member.

The Showcase was the product of the tireless, speedy work of the entire Officer team. The Officers jumped in with both feet to bring the event to fruition in a short three and one-half months from the day that we first discussed the possibility of holding such an event this year. I extend a special note of gratitude to Membership Officer Stacy Hadeka, who took the lead in coordinating the logistics for the Showcase, and to her firm Hogan Lovells, which generously hosted the event and sponsored the reception. Much appreciation also goes to Patty Brennan, our Section Director, and to Sean Dickerson, our Section’s Program Specialist, for working the administrative miracles needed to add an additional event to our already-full Section calendar.

Goal 3: To Empower

My final goal is to empower, with leadership opportunities at every level for Section members who have demonstrated commitment to our Section. This year the other Officers and I have placed a renewed focus on active leadership by our esteemed Council Members. In September, the Council held its first-ever strategic planning meeting to identify additional ways that Council Members can support and lead the Section. This spring we implemented one of the ideas generated by that strategy session—moving the FPI Council Meeting from the conclusion of FPI on Saturday to the start of the program on Wednesday, in order to promote broader attendance at the Council Meeting. Our willingness to experiment with this significant scheduling change to our flagship program reflects the Officers’ collective openness to ideas that will help the Section better serve our members in our evolving post-pandemic world.

Looking toward that future, I thank the Section’s Nominating Committee for its work this year, encouraging and supporting Section members who have raised their hands to be considered for senior leadership roles in the Section. I thank Immediate Past Section Chair Jennifer Dauer, former Section Chair Aaron Silberman, and Section Fellow and former Council Member Jeri Somers for their service on the Committee.

On that note, I ask that each of you, our talented members, consider how you can expand your role in shaping the future of our Section. I encourage you to get involved in the Section by participating in Committee meetings, writing articles for our publications, speaking at our programs or Committee meetings, or considering taking on leadership roles in the Section in the future. The contributions of our Section members make this the outstanding organization that it is—and will be for years to come.

I will close with a few final notes of appreciation. On behalf of the Section, a very sincere thank you to our Section Director Patty Brennan and Program Specialist Sean Dickerson, whose tireless work throughout the year enables the Section to achieve these goals. I also extend my abiding appreciation to my fellow Officers for their support and friendship: Chair-Elect Eric Whytsell; Vice-Chair Jason Workmaster; Secretary Dan Chudd; Budget and Finance Officer Patricia Becker; Membership Officer Stacy Hadeka; Immediate Past Chair Jennifer Dauer; and Past Chair Susan Ebner. I look forward to a strong finish to this ABA year, and to much success for our Section in years to come.