October 11, 2019
President’s Message By Lori McMaster
I write with exciting news regarding the formation of the ACBA’s new Health and Wellness Committee! On September 3, the Board of Governors voted unanimously in favor of the creation of the Health and Wellness Committee following an outstanding presentation by ACBA member Alexandria Popovnak, and Christina Daub, Director of Membership and CLE.
Discussion around the creation of the Health and Wellness Committee initially arose within the Membership Committee, which has been led for the past two years by the incomparable Lauren Melfa Catanzarite. On July 31, the ACBA hosted an exploratory meeting to get feedback and support from our members. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with President-Elect Elizabeth Hughes enthusiastically advocating for the committee’s creation, along with Robert Creo, Dennis Kusturiss, Maggie McGannon, Sharon Smith, Lisa Standish, Sunny Yang, and law student members S.J. Wilson and Steven Hodzic.
“I really believe this committee can benefit everyone in the ACBA. As lawyers, we (almost always) put the needs of our clients, our bosses, and our colleagues above our own to get the job done. I think this committee will help some of our fellow members take the time to prioritize their own health and wellness, which in turn makes us better advocates for our clients and, of course, for ourselves,” said Alexandria Popovnak.
Christina Daub said that she “is very excited about the creation of this committee. The wellness of our members is very important to the ACBA and this committee will provide a multitude of opportunities for the ACBA to engage our members in fun events that go beyond the happy hours and CLE programming that we currently offer.”
I extend my heart-felt thanks to Alexandria, Christina, and all of those members who attended the exploratory meeting, for their far-sighted leadership in advancing this critical committee. Members who wish to join the committee are asked to email Christina Daub at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Health and Wellness Committee is dedicated to educating lawyers about the importance of self-care and promoting attorney well-being. Per the American Bar Association’s National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, “to be a good lawyer, one has to be a healthy lawyer.”
In my August 30 President’s Message, I noted that levels of depression, anxiety, and stress among attorneys are significant, with 28 percent, 19 percent, and 23 percent of attorneys reporting that they experience mild or higher levels of depression, anxiety, and stress, respectively. The ACBA is proud to join the ABA and other metro bar associations in Philadelphia, Cleveland, Kansas City, Atlanta and elsewhere in addressing these issues.
The Health and Wellness Committee will be led by Chair Alexandria Popovnak, and will seek to contribute to the physical, emotional, and intellectual well-being of members of the ACBA. The committee will provide education, support and resources on topics relating to a healthy and active lifestyle. Educational programming will also provide helpful information and tips on managing personal and law school debt, which is a significant stressor for attorneys and law students alike. The overarching goal of the committee will be to assist our members with achieving a better balance between their well-being as individuals and their professional careers.
The committee will conduct educational workshops and CLE programs on topics such as:
- Why attorney wellness is important from a business perspective
- Nutrition, healthy sleep patterns, and exercise
- Educating family members about the stressors associated with practicing as an attorney
The committee will also organize fun group events that have universal appeal and promote the health and well-being of our entire membership (including older folks like me), including:Downtown walking sessions for membersCooking classesMember-only fitness classesDance lessonsYogaBikingRunningHiking and nature walksWellness Workout events to raise money for local charities
The Health and Wellness Committee is a true win-win for the bar association and its members. The above events and initiatives will tackle the issues of stress management, self-care, and attorney well-being while also creating exciting opportunities for members to engage with one another in enjoyable and meaningful ways.
President-Elect Elizabeth Hughes observed, “as lawyers, we get so caught up in the long hours and working so hard on behalf of our clients that it is very easy to forget about self-care. This is such an important initiative that has seen a success in many other bar associations across the country. The founding members of this committee are so enthusiastic and have innovative, yet simple solutions for ways we can take care of ourselves a little bit better every day.” The Health and Wellness Committee will meet on the fourth Monday of each month at noon, and the first meeting will be held on October 28. Please contact either Alexandria Popovnak (email@example.com) or me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to share your additional ideas about how the ACBA can support the health and wellness of our members! We’re all ears!
All my best, Lori.