Greetings, fellow NACM members!
As your new NACM President, I have so much I would like to say in person, but I appreciate the opportunity to give a virtual handshake to my colleagues around the country and even the world. You may not know, the path to the NACM presidency is a long one. It can be as much as an eight-to-ten-year commitment. I am grateful to the people who have traveled this path with me. Thanks to all of those who have helped me. I am forever grateful.
I started my career in the courts long ago, without having considered it a career option before then. From the moment I started working in courts, I found an interesting career. Because my early time as a manager was also challenging, I sought out help. And I found NACM. It not only provided enriching resources to address the challenges of my job, but also a second home and family. For twenty years I have had the opportunity to learn from early mentors and past presidents like Chelle Ueker, Jeff Gallas, Marcus Reinkensmeyer, Jude Del Preore, Janet Cornell, Susanne Stinson, and Norman Meyer. Through their mentoring and words of encouragement, I came to embrace the power of comradery and shared experiences. My involvement with NACM inspired me to complete Institute for Court Management (ICM) courses and eventually become an ICM Fellow and later faculty for several courses. I have become a better court professional. Each of us is called to improve and grow our skills. I hope all of us remember that learning never ends.
To say that these times are unprecedented is an understatement. The downstream consequences of limiting courthouse traffic means being prepared for backlogs when we return to prior service levels. When that happens, personal distancing and safety precautions will limit our ability to handle cases in large numbers. The economic downturn may impact court budgets as we chase additional resources. Now, more than ever, courts need professionals with expertise, drawing on lessons learned from colleagues and relying on NACM Core Competencies to figure this out.
COVID-19 is called a “novel” coronavirus. The dictionary tells us that novel means “new or unusual in an interesting way.” Here is my challenge to us at NACM and as court professionals. We must be novel, in a new and interesting way. As an organization, we shifted our in-person conference to a virtual experience, which may make it available to a wider audience. Our business meeting in July did not occur in person, but rather online. This demonstrates that we can be novel and make unusual choices and still get things done.
I have heard stories about how others have adjusted to the pandemic. Court administrators and staff have driven around their states to deliver masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, and more to judges and courts to keep staff and the public safe. Judges who foreswore video hearings hear cases online now. Probation officers let probationers sew homemade masks to earn community service hours. Drug courts hold one-on-one and group-counseling sessions online. Most courts have never fully shut down. We have handled protective orders, bond hearings, and other essential matters in unique ways. Some courts have moved outdoors under tents or in large convention centers to allow for proper social distancing. Others have attempted remote grand juries and jury trials.
As court professionals, we must be novel. To accomplish this, NACM is busy identifying new ways to engage and support our members. We will be unveiling a new online repository of hundreds of conference videos, webinars, and Court Manager articles available by topic, and we will continue to push out educational content to support you. We will work with the Conference of Chief Justices, the Conference of State Court Administrators, the National Center for State Courts, and our numerous other partners and state associations to share and collaborate. We do this because our success is determined by how we support you in your success.
Finally, I want to share how deeply I feel for every one of us impacted by this terrible virus. On behalf of my family and the greater NACM family, please know we share the grief and pain you and your communities are experiencing. We offer you our well wishes and hopes for the good health of you and yours. Although we have missed out on opportunities to gather in person, we share a common bond and a promise for a time together again in the future. For together, even virtually, we are strong.
I am honored to serve the membership of NACM and look forward to supporting this strong community of professionals. Go forth and be novel!
All my best,