Sara G. Neill
BAMSL President, 2019-20
Shareholder, Capes Sokol
Originally published in the March 2020 issue of the St. Louis Lawyer magazine. View in the archives.
Over President's Day weekend, my son Declan's Rockets hockey team played in a tournament at the Ice Zone in the St. Louis Mills mall. They began the tournament down one of their goalies who had recently broken his arm in a bike accident. The team lost their first game against the Rough Riders from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 8-1. During the second game, one of their key players broke his ankle in several places and was taken off the ice on a stretcher and driven to the hospital by ambulance. This was a devastating loss to this closely bonded team.
Somehow, the boys pulled it together and instead of letting the loss negatively impact their play, they worked harder than ever and set out to win the tournament for their hospitalized friend. In the championship game, they faced the undefeated Rough Riders again, and this time beat them, 4-3. The Rockets took home the trophy.
Like Declan's hockey team, though no one has been injured and we have plenty of advance notice, BAMSL has recently learned that it will be losing two key players.
John Rasp, the Editor-in-Chief of the St. Louis Bar Journal, has resigned effective this spring. John has devoted 42 years to BAMSL and the Journal on a volunteer basis. He has taken great pride in his work and in ensuring the publication and its articles are relevant, substantive and of the highest quality. John's service to the organization is unparalleled and his departure is a significant loss to BAMSL. I look forward to honoring John at Law Day on May 1 and hope you will all be there to congratulate and thank him for his service to the association.
John has graciously agreed to assist with the transition of the Journal to its next volunteer Editor-in-Chief. Please be on the lookout for future announcements from BAMSL's Communications Committee about the open position and if you or anyone you know are interested, please email Susan Sagarra at email@example.com.
A couple of weeks after John informed us of his resignation, I met Executive Director Zoe Linza at Starbucks on Central in Clayton. Zoe and I regularly have coffee together and she always brings a long list of things to go over. That morning, Zoe did not bring a list. Instead, she shared that after 13 years of service, she was planning to step down from her position this summer in order to be able to spend more time with her friends and family. Zoe graciously agreed to do whatever she can to help us with the transition.
Zoe has done an incredible job running our association. Membership is strong, our financial position is healthy, we have a talented and dedicated staff, and an excellent leadership team. BAMSL also has a strong presence in our community thanks in large part to Zoe's efforts. She, along with many volunteers, has taken the annual Motion for Kids holiday party to new heights by creating strong community partnerships. Recently, Zoe took the lead in working with area law firms to raise $25,000 for St. Louis World Food Day and organized more than 100 attorneys to volunteer together for one hour to pack food at the event.
Zoe's leadership has led to BAMSL becoming one of the premier bar associations in the nation, with award-winning programs that have earned state and national recognition. Her relationships with local, state and national leaders have benefited BAMSL in numerous ways, including visits from four U.S. Supreme Court judges, as well as nationally known speakers like Jon Meacham and George Will. Will joins us at this year's Law Day on May 1. Our legislative outreach has increased exponentially with Zoe at the helm, with numerous opportunities for BAMSL members to interact with lawyers and lawmakers in the Missouri General Assembly.
She also has served as a leader on the national level, having been on the board of the National Association of Bar Executives (NABE), most recently as its president. Last year, Zoe was recognized by NABE with its highest honor, the Bolton Award for Outstanding Bar Leadership.
Zoe has been committed to the success of BAMSL and we are grateful for her dedication and service. She will be greatly missed.
As explained in the email I sent to membership in February, a search committee will be tasked with performing a nationwide search for BAMSL's new Executive Director. We hope to hire someone in the next few months. If you or anyone you know has interest in the position, please have them contact me, Judge Glenn Norton or the Chair of the Search Committee, Bill Bay of Thompson Coburn.
While the loss of two of our key players will be difficult on the association, like Declan's Rockets hockey team, our leadership team and staff have come together to do what we need to do to ensure these transitions are as smooth as possible, and that BAMSL remains one of the top voluntary bar associations in the country. While both John and Zoe will be missed, with change comes opportunity. And while we are not looking to win a trophy, our team is choosing to focus on the positive and through this process will look for ways to strengthen our association.