Our Stewardship of the Bar Foundation
by Kaveh Kashef
2016-2017 OCBF President
Approaching the role of incoming president of the Oakland County Bar Foundation (“The Foundation”) can be an intimidating endeavor. The individuals who have served in this role before me have demonstrated incredible dedication; their leadership and the efforts of The Foundation’s trustees have resulted in the development of a foundation that is respected among its peer organizations, fosters continuity and collegiality among the members of the bench and bar and, most important, delivers much-needed support to law-related activities throughout Oakland County.
To know The Foundation today, it is helpful to have an understanding of its past. The Foundation is a stand-alone 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation with roots going back nearly a century and having been formally incorporated in 1976. In that year, members of the OCBA, including those with the names Adams, Avadenka, Fishman, Fulkerson, Gurwin, Larky, Thorburn and Webster, formed the “Oakland Law Library Foundation” with the exclusive purpose of “soliciting funds for the use and benefit of the Oakland County Law Library.” In 1989, The Foundation’s name changed to “Oakland Bar – Adams Pratt Foundation” and it expanded the scope of its mission to include, among many goals: “improve[ing] and facilitate[ing] the administration of justice in Oakland County and throughout the State of Michigan” and “insure[ing] to the fullest extent possible that legal services are made available to all members of the public regardless of their race, creed, color, natural origin or economic status.” In 2000, The Foundation changed its name to the Oakland County Bar Foundation. While the law library remains a component of The Foundation’s current mission, the majority of our funding is principally directed now toward the broader goals of improving law-related education and access to legal services.
In addition to the leadership of The Foundation, equally important to the growth and development of The Foundation has been the continued support of the OCBA, its leadership and its members, which has been – and remains – the lifeblood of our organization. Without the continued support of OCBA, The Foundation would not be the organization it is today. As set forth above, the roots of The Foundation germinated from the OCBA and today The Foundation and OCBA have a strong relationship memorialized in an agreement through which, among other things, the OCBA provides The Foundation with administrative support and The Foundation agrees to fund various OCBA community programs and activities that provide law-related educational programs, pro bono legal services, and programs created to improve the quality of legal services in Oakland County. More important than the formal agreement between the two organizations, the support they provide one another is based on several decades of shared growth, leadership, membership and aspirations for each other’s success. After being sworn in as the president of OCBA in June 2016, David C. Anderson spoke of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as a lawyer in the OCBA. Over the years, The Foundation has become a charitable outlet for countless members of the OCBA in their pursuit of happiness and The Foundation is ever stronger as a result.
My predecessor, Chuck Moore, poised The Foundation on a trajectory for continued success in this, The Foundation’s 40th year. We celebrated our most successful fundraising year ever. We engaged in strategic planning to develop and implement a vision for the future of The Foundation and to discover new ways to grow our sponsorship base beyond the legal community into the Oakland County community at large. We are on the verge of revising the agreement between the OCBA and The Foundation in an effort to create efficiencies and financial strength for both organizations, while maintaining the collaborative relationship that has been a foundation for their respective growth and success.
We will begin this year by completing our review and revision of the agreement with the OCBA. We will continue the growth of The Foundation and its fundraising efforts and support of organizations and programs dedicated to justice. We will continue our efforts in developing our identity, our mission and possibly our name so we can expand our sponsorship reach to not only attorneys, law firms and legal vendors, but also to individuals, businesses and other stakeholders in Oakland County who are inspired by our mission. We will develop our Fellows Program to not only increase the number of fellows, but also to increase the fellows’ involvement in The Foundation’s leadership and the programs it supports.
With this incredible history, it is clear that the role of the president of The Foundation is that of a steward. However, I am only one of many who are responsible for this stewardship. The Foundation lives and breathes only with the support of its board of trustees, the staff and board of directors of the OCBA, and all of the attorneys and others who serve as fellows, sponsors, volunteers and attendees of our events and programs. With this support structure, I am confident we will have a great year and the future of The Foundation is in good hands.