Executive Director’s Perspective: Seeing the Future - By Melissa J. Schank

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Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

Heightened perception is the goal: becoming more aware of how you see, not just what you see.

Michael Kimmelman

TCDLA started off our fiscal year September 1st with seminars, board and committee meetings, and networking opportunities. The Voir Dire seminar gave a fresh new perspective on the topic. Attendees raved about how it was a huge success due to the innovative format. We had lectures and demos in the morning and then afternoon interactive group sessions, which entailed sharing case ideas and techniques and participating in exercises that could be applied immediately. Of special note, we hosted a group of 15 students studying criminal justice, and this experience turned their classroom studies to reality. During breaks, several attorneys met with students to share testimonials about criminal defense. As I observed, I realized everyone has a different story to tell about their journey.

To build on this momentum, TCDLA will explore opportunities to improve seminars to separate us from our competitors. We value our attendees’ opinions and welcome suggestions and new ideas. Our Champions theme seminars, sponsored by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, crank up this month. Visit our website for CLE we are offering and TCDLEI scholarship opportunities.

Saturday, September 15th, more than 70 board and CDLP Committee members and past presidents gathered for our quarterly meeting to continue working toward our goals and mission. From the outset, I was filled with pride, being a part of such a dedicated and talented group, who each volunteer their time and money to travel and attend a weekend meeting. The reality is we would not be successful without the perspective and experience each individual brings to the table. Join us! We are now accepting applications for board membership—visit the website for a form.

During the session, the board voted on a bylaws amendment that will be presented for a vote at the annual membership meeting in June in conjunction with Rusty Duncan. Save the date: June 18–20, 2020. The Hyatt is now taking reservations. Below is the amendment, with changes underlined:

Sec. 2. Executive Committee.

The Executive Committee shall consist of the officers of the Association, the editor of the Voice for the Defense, immediate past president, and two members of the board of directors appointed by the President. The President may select Ex-Officio(s) in a non-voting capacity, to serve on the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee shall have such powers and duties as are provided in these bylaws and as may be prescribed by the Board of Directors. The Executive Director is a non-voting member of the Executive Committee.

In addition to putting on meetings and seminars, our staff is also involved in continuing education, following TCDLA’s lead in staying abreast with new developments so we can contribute to the organization. These educational opportunities are only part of the process; equally important is the networking, idea sharing, and brainstorming that accompany. For my own part, I have come to realize I cannot fix past missteps. In the future, though, I can learn from my mistakes, sharing my lessons and understanding others’ experiences, and work never to repeat them. The networking and relationships built from the seminars prove invaluable in this regard.

To be successful in our chosen field, we all try to stay relevant, up to date. I’ve come to realize that my own viewpoint doesn’t always represent reality. Each person’s reality colors their perspective. The challenge is in how do we remain an all-inclusive organization when everyone holds separate mindsets? You do not need to compromise your positions to listen, even welcome, another’s. That’s what an association represents—bringing together various realities and incorporating them all in a whole. If your reality is as a part of TCDLA, we need your outlook to grow our Association, as we also need for you to include and invite others to be a part of our family.