From the President (Spring 2014)

by Jill Goski

NASJE President Jill Goski
NASJE President Jill Goski

Recently, while hanging a plaque with a paraphrased Margaret Mead quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful people can make a difference, in fact, it is the only thing that ever has,” I reflected on how central this concept has been in building NASJE as a professional organization. I’ve always been amazed at how much NASJE as a small professional organization accomplishes. However, until I joined the Board, much of the work and contributions were invisible and I didn’t realize what it takes to sustain NASJE and keep it flourishing into the future. My hope is that through a periodic update from the President, the work of the Board and efforts of NASJE members will be more visible. This update provides only a sample of the tremendous contributions over the past few months.

To support the goal of increased communication across our membership, I have been working with Joseph Sawyer, Website and Technology Committee Chair, John Newell, Newsletter Committee Chair, and Board Committee Liaisons, Kelly Tait and Mary Kennedy, to reconfigure and update the NASJE Website for easier access and expanded resources. Although it is a work in progress, Joseph and John have done wonders so please take a look around the site! Earlier this year, the Board created a central repository for NASJE documents and resources, which will provide better organization, continuity and accessibility of NASJE records, reports and related materials. Additionally, at the April meeting, the NASJE Board approved launching a NASJE LinkedIn Group as another opportunity for NASJE members to connect, network and share information and resources. Jeff Schrade, NASJE Treasurer-Elect, was instrumental in keeping us current by providing the research and foundation for both the central document repository and creation of the Linked In Group. All NASJE members should have received an invitation from Jeff to join the group or you may do so by clicking here.

In November, the International Organization for Judicial Training (IOJT) held their conference in the U.S. for the first time. Approximately fifteen NASJE members attended the conference in Washington, D.C. and Caroline Kirkpatrick led the group in hosting a NASJE Information Table at the IOJT Knowledge Fair. This provided an excellent opportunity to meet and network with many international colleagues. There was great interest in our organization and resources resulting in 12 new international NASJE members. Our model curricula on topics essential to judicial educators were of particular interest. Hats off to the Curriculum Committee for their fabulous work on these resources!

While 19 of these curricula have been designed and developed, the Board decided to invest the remaining resources from the SJI Curriculum Grant in the design of the curriculum for the Diversity, Fairness, and Access competency, which was approved by the NASJE membership in at the 2013 Annual Conference in Little Rock last summer. The Curriculum Committee and contractor Karen Thorson are working with the Diversity, Fairness and Access committee to review and finalize this curriculum. This will complete the curriculum designs for all current Judicial Branch Educator Competencies, which is an incredible accomplishment! Congratulations to the committee chairs who helped lead this effort, originally Christy Tull and currently Jeff Schrade and Caroline Kirkpatrick, and to the entire Curriculum Committee. And expression of appreciation would not be complete without acknowledging the State Justice Institute for funding this important work!

The NASJE Board held our Mid-Year meeting in late February. We dedicated an additional day to planning for NASJE’s future since our bylaws require the Board to review the NASJE Strategic Plan every three years. The current Board set the stage for planning by reviewing NASJE’s current Strategic Plan dated 2003 as well as NASJE’s strategic planning history (See NASJE News article: “Looking Back to Look Forward”.) The Board discussed what is changing around us that could impact or influence our planning and reviewed strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. In planning for the future of a professional membership organization, the Board recognized that it is essential to involve the membership throughout the process. Since providing meaningful membership engagement in the planning process will likely span the term of more than one NASJE President, I have been working with President-elect Kelly Tait and Vice President Margaret Allen as a team to ensure this planning is sustained through their terms of office and ultimately implemented.

Early ways that members can become involved in the planning include completion of a survey regarding NASJE’s vision, mission and values, which will be sent to you soon. While the Board has done some initial work in drafting a vision, mission and a list of values, the drafts provide only a starting point for the important reactions and input from the membership. Additional information and opportunities for involvement will be available at the Annual Conference particularly in a session regarding change leadership.

The Education Committee, under the leadership of Lee Ann Barnhardt and Anne Jordan, has been working diligently and creatively in planning the 2014 Conference that will be held August 3-6 in Chicago, Illinois. The theme for the conference is “Perceptions of Justice: Improving Public Trust and Confidence through Judicial Branch Education.” Pre-conference sessions on Sunday, August 3rd will be expanded this year to include not only one on Fundamentals of Our Profession but also an advanced curriculum on Governance. In addition to the session on change leadership, conference highlights will include sessions on implicit bias, the Holocaust Museum, globalization in judicial education, trends in judicial branch education, as well as using films and literature in educational programs and networking opportunities. The conference will be held at the Westin Michigan Avenue hotel, a location central to many Chicago points of interest. Join us Monday evening for our social event and an opportunity to explore Navy Pier. Consider supplementing the Wednesday educational session on using the principles of improvisation in navigating through pressures of our profession by arranging to attend a program on Tuesday evening at Second City.

Additionally, the Annual Conference marks the beginning of a new program year and several opportunities to get involved in NASJE. You recently heard from Marty Sullivan, Chair of the Nominating Committee, about four vacancies on the Board for the next year that will be filled through elections at the Annual Business Meeting. Committees will be launching their work in August for the subsequent year and always welcome new and continuing members. Please consider how you would like to be involved in the coming year and feel free to contact committee chairs or Board members if you would like to discuss possibilities. We hope to see you in Chicago in August! The educational programming is inspiring and the venue and networking should serve to augment the experience and learning!