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Leadership In Action - CMBA News and Information

CMBA Updates & Legal News

Posted by: Rebecca McMahon on Aug 1, 2019
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If you joined us for the 12th Annual Meeting on June 3, you had a chance to help us celebrate, among other things, the graduation of our Leadership Academy. Way back in September, 26 attorneys began our 10-month Leadership Academy journey designed to give both Established Leaders (15+ years of experience) and Emerging Leaders (5+ years of experience), an opportunity to take a deep dive into leadership within the legal industry. In some sessions, that meant exploring the essential skills that strong lawyer-leaders exhibit. In others, the focus shifted to identifying a myriad of leadership opportunities for lawyers. In still others, class members gained practical insights on how to land the leadership roles they want.

Perhaps the best highlight from every session was the opportunity for participants to learn a little (or a lot!) about one another. From small firms to big firms, corporations, government agencies and non-profit organizations, class members represented a variety of backgrounds, experiences, viewpoints and career goals. Each month, we fostered substantive opportunities for one-on-one dialogue, as well as group conversations. We also created ample time for the members of the class to network with our equally diverse slate of presenters who represented a myriad of leadership roles from judges, managing partners, general counsel, CEOs and more.

In the middle of the program, we launched a capstone experience. Class members were divided into four project teams and then were assigned to one of two projects. The head-to-head competition was fierce! In May, the teams presented their proposals to a panel of esteemed judges comprised of Kevin Donoughe, Rose Fini, Gabe Kelly, Pat Krebs and Neal Shapero. The panel evaluated each project on the basis of its:

  • quality and quantity of potential collaborations inside and outside of the CMBA (Sections, Committees, Community Partners);
  • creativity and innovation; and
  • specificity, sensibility and sustainability.

True to competitive lawyer form, the teams developed tremendous pitches that could (and potentially will) transform different segments of our Bar. The projects both tie into the CMBA’s existing strategic plan which calls for the Bar to continue our evolution as the “go to” organization for law and justice issues by serving as a community convener to identify and address the significant issues, while also serving as an indispensable resource to our members.

Within the thought leadership arena, two teams immersed themselves in the efforts the CMBA has undertaken over the past three years to intentionally expand our thought leadership activities. Specially, we challenged the teams to propose one or more new action plans the CMBA can undertake to further drive our role in this area, including consideration for meaningful cross-collaborations with priority organizations throughout our community.

The two teams that tackled this project were:
Thought Leadership Team 1: Bobby Botnick, Serpil Ergun, Joy Kennedy, Katie Laskey-Donovan, Tracey Gonzalez, Sarah Polly and Peter Hochberg. Thought Leadership Team 2: Amanda Barreto, Jeff Caso, Chris Keim, Margo Meola, Chris Hoecek and Tiffany Wright.

The other two teams dove deep into the CMBA’s strategic vision to strengthen and grow our membership by attracting young/younger and new/newer attorneys. Specifically, the teams were challenged to envision a “Bar within the Bar” that would be devoted to serving the needs and capturing the long-term engagement of attorneys who possess less than 10 years of practice experience. The two teams that tackled this project were:

Bar within a Bar Team 1: David Cupar, Diane Feigi, Amy Jeffries, Joe Lanter, Chris Gray and Shana Marbury Bar within a Bar Team 2: Lydia Floyd, Ross Dibello, Stephanie Klupinski, John Liber, Laura McNally-Levine, Joe Simms and Heather Zirke.

In the end, the judges unanimously selected the outstanding proposal submitted by Bar within a Bar Team 2 as the best in class this year! Their plan for engagement — which you will see coming to reality later this year — includes a call for “Mini Bar” events outside of downtown Cleveland and a Non-profit Director Certification Program. These innovations, and those advanced by the other teams, are sure to help us continue to expand our offerings and drive engagement among our members.

Next month: stay tuned for the announcement of our newest Leadership Academy members!

In the meantime, if you are interested in finding out how you can get plugged in, call me or better yet: come Meet us at the Bar. Have a great summer!

Rebecca Ruppert McMahon is the CEO of the CMBA. She has been a CMBA member since 1995. She can be reached at (216) 696-3525 or



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