Dear CWBA Members,
Throughout this past year, a particular quote kept coming to mind: “Ships are safest in harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for.” And, it is certainly not what the CWBA is built for.
In a year when some associations chose to drop anchor and stay safe in the harbor, the CWBA did the exact opposite. As an association, together, we sailed beyond all circumstances, and chose to thrive, not just survive, throughout this challenging year. Simply put, we chose courage over comfort.
Our unifying theme this year was Lead Beyond. Lead Beyond was a call to action to take timeless leadership principals and build on them in new ways. It was an invitation to see beyond previous possibilities in order to expand our power, our reach, and our influence.
I am so proud to say, that the CWBA Board of Directors and all of you, our members, took this theme and ran with it! Not only did you run with it, you ran BEYOND, exceeding all expectations.
Here are a few examples of how the CWBA led beyond over the past year:
Despite the pandemic, our membership increased.
We held more meetings and events this year than in years without a pandemic.
We re-stated our Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation.
Our Publications Committee published an incredible number of posts on The 1891 blog and launched the first CWBA Book Club.
Through the tremendous work of our Public Policy Committee, we supported the Law Enforcement Integrity Bill, opposed an anti-choice ballot initiative, and supported a paid medical and family leave ballot initiative.
Despite the uncertainty of the times, the CWBA Board of Directors remained forward thinking and stayed committed to our three-year rolling strategic plan.
Although significant cuts to the budget were necessary this year, the Board continued to think strategically and voted to spend money on items specifically designed to advance our mission, such as a charitable matching donation program coordinated by the Legal Services Committee.
We held our first Chapter Leadership Summit to provide leadership training and an opportunity for our statewide Chapters to collaborate and share ideas.
The Programs Committee presented our first Storming the Commissions program.
These are just a few examples of how we led beyond last year. I personally thank each of you who supported and contributed to these important accomplishments.
A big part of Leading Beyond this past year required leadership to work together to create innovative ways to foster connection within the Association, despite an all-virtual format. For me, one of the most impactful and meaningful ways we stayed connected this year was through On What Grounds? A Live, Virtual Leadership Café, where we gathered each month to share what was really going on in all of our worlds. Together, we laughed, cried, inspired, and supported each other.
One of my favorite quotes from Brene’ Brown’s book Dare to Lead is: “Daring leaders who live their values are not silent about hard things.” This year, the CWBA was definitely not silent about hard things.
In our mission to be a voice for women in the legal profession and for the interests of women generally, this year certainly tested our resolve. Social and racial unrest, political tension, a presidential election, loss of leaders in the law, sexual harassment allegations in the judiciary, and the continued fight for racial and gender equity, have presented the CWBA with an ongoing invitation to express our mission in the public arena.
We issued many statements addressing these issues over this past year. We also sent two letters to President Biden requesting that he consider highly qualified candidates— who also happen to be CWBA members—for the positions of U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado and for leadership of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office—two offices with a historic gender equity gap.
We ensured that our voices were heard and that the membership was kept informed of the CWBA’s positions on these important issues. Together, we walked bravely into the public arena to meet each challenge head on, and we stayed true to our mission throughout it all.
One of my personal goals this year was to emphasize leadership development throughout the CWBA, starting at the Board level. We took advantage of every Board meeting as an opportunity to develop one another as leaders, and we shared that training with the entire membership through The 1891 blog.
In that spirit, I will share three personal insights as to how my experience as your President has developed me as a leader and as a person. Those three are the importance of mission, resilience, and compassion in leadership.
1. Mission. I learned that it is vital to have a crystal clear understanding of your personal mission as a leader. My personal mission has always been to see women succeed professionally. There were many times, over the past year, that I had to lean on my mission, as well as the CWBA’s mission, as a compass to guide my decision-making.
2. Resilience. I started out this year knowing that I was a strong person and that I was tough as nails on the inside. After this year, I have learned that I can tap into an even deeper reservoir of strength. We all can. My definition of resilience is— if you fall down seven times, it doesn’t matter, as long as you get up eight times. After this year, I know that the next time I fall (because there will be a next time), it will be so much easier to get back up again. I have tested a deeper level of my resilience and have grown as a person and as a leader because of it.
3. Compassion. You have to show people some grace and start with yourself first. Leading people has to be done with compassion. Otherwise, what’s the point? At the end of the day, our most important job as leaders is to grow future leaders. Let’s give emerging leaders the guidance they need. Let’s never miss an opportunity to nurture leadership potential wherever we find it. I have deepened my capacity for compassion over this past year, for others and also for myself.
I am ending this year with a new personal and professional mantra, which is: “Be brave. Be kind.”
I am so proud of the CWBA for braving the storm of this past year, when we could have so easily chosen to stay snug in the harbor. We absolutely chose courage over comfort.
While this year has not always been smooth sailing, it has always been my honor to serve as your President, and it will always be my privilege to be a part of the CWBA.
Miranda K. Hawkins
CWBA President 2020-2021
CWBA Immediate Past President 2021-2022