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Board Structure, Part 3: Where Do We Go from Here?

This article is Part 3 of the 3-part series from CWBA President-Elect Emma Garrison, about the CWBA's board structure.

In the first two posts on the CWBA's board structure, we provided an update on the proposals and feedback received from the current CWBA Board and our past presidents. This week we are discussing next steps for incorporating this feedback and finalizing the CWBA Board structure proposal.

The Future

So, where do we go from here? Ideally, we will have a final structure approved by November 2023 to give to the Nominating Committee before they select the 2024-25 CWBA leadership.

Strategic Planning Workgroup member Judge Rebekah Watada has been appointed as an At-Large Representative to the 2023-24 Board to lead strategic planning efforts once I transition into the role of president. And thanks to the amazing work of the Strategic Planning Workgroup and the input from the current board and our past presidents, we have a solid working framework. We have reached a consensus that we need a smaller governing body. We have also identified the key issues to address as we move forward: (1) how can be best utilize the vice president roles and ensure they are not glorified middlemen and (2) how do we ensure we keep strong engagement between leadership and the committee co-chairs and the representatives.

One option I see is to admit we’ve done all we can do as the CWBA’s leaders and recognize it’s time to bring in some outside help. I recently attended the American Bar Association's Bar Leadership Institute (BLI)—a conference directed at incoming bar presidents and executive directors focused on bar governance, communication, and leadership. If I had a word cloud from the most uttered phrases at BLI, “strategic planning” and “ABA consultant” would be right up there with “Chat GPT” and “dashboard.” Program speakers emphasized over and over that it is very difficult to do strategic planning on your own, that ABA consultants are trained to facilitate these conversations, and it’s possible to work with a strategic planning facilitator on a narrow question (like how to finalize a board restructure proposal). When the budget committee meets this summer, I will propose that we consider dedicating financial resources to the board restructure project.

Another option is to embrace a growth mindset and realize everything is an experiment. We can try out the proposed new structure, identify its strengths and weakness, and adjust as needed in future years. We will likely need to take this approach whether or not we bring in outside help. As our organization and legal community evolves, our leadership structure should evolve with it.

Do you have suggestions about how the CWBA should move forward from here? Have an idea from another organization you’re involved with? Can offer an objective perspective to those of us who have been in the weeds? Drop a comment below or email Emma Garrison at


Emma Garrison is an Assistant Attorney General in the Tax Unit of the Colorado Department of Law. Emma joined the CWBA in 2014, and has previously served as Co-Chair of the Convention, Membership, and Judicial Committees, and as the CWBA Secretary. She has also held many leadership positions in the Colorado legal community over the years, including Chair of the Colorado Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and Senior Vice-President of the Colorado Bar Association. Emma is the current host of On What Grounds?, CWBA’s virtual leadership café.

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