Governance & Membership

President's Message - August 2022

The OBA Unmasked!

By Jim Hicks

Jim Hicks - 2022 OBA President

Earlier this year, the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits conducted the OBA Membership Survey. The purpose of the survey was to engage our members in providing feedback on services, obtain input on the future direction of the organization and solicit members’ perspectives on the qualities and characteristics needed in a new executive director. The anonymous survey was open for three weeks in March and generated 1,841 responses. This is considered a statistically relevant response rate.

Based on the survey responses, the OBA is in a strong position with its members, and the commitment to customer service is apparent throughout the data. We received a 3.9 overall rating, or 4 out of 5 stars. Our organization is benefiting from well-run programs that go beyond professional compliance and offer direct support and relevance to our diverse membership.

The members engaged in this survey are overwhelmingly supportive of the OBA becoming a leader in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in the practice throughout the field. Nevertheless, there is a segment of the membership that does not see this as relevant to its mission or as a political topic best avoided. The OBA is not a political organization and takes no positions on legislative matters not directly germane to the practice of law.

The survey showed the OBA has benefitted from strong leadership. There was a clear appreciation for the management and leadership style John Morris Williams brought to our organization. In general, members would like to see an executive director who understands the demands of practicing law and the particulars of the profession and leads by listening and communicating. They would also like to see someone who is sincere and has the ability to build relationships with staff and members. In summary, members are looking for a leader and an advocate.

Members also identified areas of concern and needed improvement. The top items identified by responding members that must be addressed by the OBA in the next three years are:

  1. Technology – invest in new technologies to reach geographically diverse membership.
  2. Educating the Public – education efforts on the judicial branch of government, how the legal process works and how the legal profession supports civil and individual rights.
  3. Accommodations – assist differently abled members, support a diverse, aging membership, create affinity groups, offer mental health services, encourage work/life balance and provide support to retain women and BIPOC/LGBTQIA+ individuals in the profession.

A search committee of past OBA Presidents Bill Grimm, Kim Hays, Susan Shields, Judge Jon Parsley, Judge Linda Thomas and Chuck Chestnut, together with past YLD Chair April Moaning, will review the candidates and make suggestions to the Board of Governors for the final selection. President-Elect Brian Hermanson, Vice President Miles Pringle and I serve on the committee as ex officio members.

Thank you to every member who participated in the survey, and thank you to each and every OBA member, all of whom make this a wonderful professional organization.

To view survey results, log in to MyOKBar. Select "Membership Survey Results" under "My OKBAR Links" on the right-hand side of the page.


President Hicks practices in Tulsa.


(918) 584-1600


Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal – OBJ 93 Vol 6 (August 2022).