Governance & Membership
President's Message - January 2022
Ulihelisdi Atse Udetiyvsgv (Happy New Year)
By Jim Hicks
As a proud member of the Cherokee Nation, I wish everyone a Happy New Year. I want to thank 2021 OBA President Mike Mordy for his hard work this past year in guiding the association through the depths of the COVID pandemic along, with the gradual reopening of the courts and life in general. As he mentioned in his January 2021 message, “I would like to commend Oklahoma attorneys and the judiciary in showing empathy, compassion and loyalty to each other this past year in working through a difficult situation.” In a profession that sometimes lacks civility, the pandemic has shown the need for character and compassion toward our fellow attorneys.
Longtime Executive Director John Morris Williams has announced his retirement at the end of 2022. John has been a stalwart champion of the attorneys in this state and has represented our association well in his interactions with the Supreme Court, the Legislature and local and national bar associations. In a recent meeting with the justices of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, many commented on the wonderful relationship John has forged with the court and how difficult it will be to replace him as executive director. Nevertheless, that will be the goal of 2022.
The Board of Governors will likely engage the services of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits to help guide the selection process. It is envisioned that a survey of the entire membership will be undertaken to better understand the wants, needs and goals of our diverse membership. From Guymon to Poteau, Miami to Lawton and everywhere in between, every attorney’s voice needs to be heard so that a comprehensive assessment can be made of the association. From that data, we can then proceed with a search process to find John Morris Williams 2.0. Our goal is to identify and hire a new executive director by this fall so they can “shadow” the OBA Annual Meeting to be held at the new Oklahoma City Convention Center in November.
The 2021 Annual Meeting was a blend of virtual and in-person meetings. A special highlight was presenting the Liberty Bell Award to Carol Manning, who recently retired as OBA Communications Director after 26 years of service to the association. Lori Rasmussen has ably taken over Carol’s position, and we look forward to many years of positive impact going forward. Another retirement is Debbie Brink, the longtime assistant to the executive director. Debbie has trained her replacement, Alisha Davidson. Finally, the Diversity Awards Dinner was a stunning success with each honoree regaling the audience with stories of their journey for inclusion in the profession. Fellow member and author Hannibal Johnson gave a fascinating and thought-provoking discussion of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. I especially enjoyed the Ton-Kon-Gah: Kiowa Warriors Black Legging Society who presented the colors on Veterans Day.
2022 is shaping up to be a bright new year for the OBA, and I urge everyone to become involved in the committees and sections of our organization. I am deeply honored and humbled by the opportunity to lead this organization and will do my best to bring empathy, compassion and loyalty to every member.
President Hicks practices in Tulsa.
Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal – OBJ 93 Vol 1 (January 2022).