As I approach the middle of my one-year term as ABI President, I write to update you on several initiatives and encourage your continued participation in our activities.
One of my early goals was to promote good relationships between ABI and other organizations. Since May, I have attended a number of meetings with David Allard, the past president of the National Association of Bankruptcy Trustees, and Robert Hertzberg, first vice president of INSOL, both of whom are in the Detroit area. Through these meetings, we have formalized future projects and explored how these organizations can best complement each other. Alliances with other organizations will be pursued as well, whether for membership, educational programming or publications purposes.
The second initiative focuses on ABI's international activities. Our Vice President-International Affairs, Steven Golick from Toronto, formed an ad hoc committee this summer to prepare a comprehensive mission statement and action plan for ABI. We hope this plan will serve as our roadmap in this exciting area for years to come.
Third, our educational programs are benefitting from a written protocol of responsibilities for regional program chairs, developed by Vice President-Education Judy Thompson, assisted by Andy Caine, who previously held this post and who is currently ABI's president-elect. This protocol will help us ensure consistency in the quality of our educational offerings. Still to come are guidelines for committee chairs, each of whom is also involved in continuing legal education by their programs at our two annual membership meetings.
I hope you have noticed some further improvements to ABI World, our award-winning web site. The Management Committee has recently approved a new web hosting service that will help us expand our services. The asset sales site has been remodeled, the ABI Quick Poll has been added to the home page, online CLE will be promoted through our partnership with West LegalEdCenter, and content will be enhanced by a new arrangement with The Daily Deal newspaper. Still to come in 2002 will be a job board, helpful to firms looking to hire insolvency professionals and individuals seeking new opportunities, and member listserves organized by practice area.
My colleagues on the Executive Committee have been active in creating valuable programs and products. Foremost is in the area of publications, where Vice President-Publications John Penn is working hard to finalize some major projects. Bankruptcy in Practice, written by Prof. Jack Ayer (U.C.-Davis School of Law) and Michael Bernstein (Arnold & Porter), is an outstanding 500-page work on practice and procedure sure to benefit both new and experienced practitioners. Also coming soon is a manual on trade creditors' rights in reclamation, written by Bruce Nathan (Davidoff & Mailito), and a monograph on the "ins and outs" of first-day orders.
Membership continues to grow under the watch of Vice President-Membership Lenny Goldberger. More than 1,400 new paid members and a 90 percent retention rate highlight our year-end numbers. We welcomed our 8,000th member in record time earlier this year. Our professional staff is hard at work on new benefits to add still more value to membership in 2002.
The creating of the Robert M. Zinman Resident Scholar program has brought a valuable addition to our in-house research capability. Prof. Jack Williams, our first and current scholar, has maintained a hectic pace of writing, lecturing and advising members of Congress and staff. We look forward to having Prof. Margaret Howard join us in January 2002. And I am thrilled to announce that Prof. David Epstein, one of the great bankruptcy teachers and writers of our time, will be the Zinman Scholar beginning in spring 2003.
Growth of the ABI Endowment Fund is a priority of Vice President-Development Michael Richman. The fund is already a major player in providing resources for scholarly projects. Our 20th Anniversary drive, now underway, hopes to fully fund the Zinman Scholar, among other goals. We need every member to help us meet our goals, either by the $30 checkoff contribution when you renew your dues, or through our five-year installment pledge campaign.
As we enjoy this growth and continued evolution, we are mindful of the need for careful planning. This fall, our Strategic Planning Committee, chaired by Bob Fishman, met to reassess our goals and help ensure strong volunteer leadership in the future. We have made it our priority to identify and encourage ABI's active members to step forward to be tomorrow's leaders. As we prepare for activities heading up to our 20th Anniversary celebration at the Annual Spring Meeting in April, I urge you to take this unique opportunity to become active in ABI.
I close with personal thanks to my mentors who preceded me as president and continue to guide me, especially Bob Fishman, Deborah Williamson and Keith Shapiro. Thanks also to our professional staff, led by Sam Gerdano, for their hard work and support. This year has been both memorable for ABI and personally fulfilling for me. I look forward to working with you all in the challenging months ahead.