Presidents Column

Presidents Column

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The last 12 months have been a whirlwind of activity and achievement for ABI. As I reflect back on these milestones at the end of my year as ABI president, there are many people to acknowledge and thank.

Membership is the lifeblood of any professional association, and in this area we surpassed the once-unthinkable 10,000-member mark, growing at more than 10 percent with a 92 percent retention rate. Mitch Cohen, our Vice President-Membership, has done a wonderful job working with ABI staff to develop new and creative ideas for helping our membership grow while continuing to make membership service a high priority. For example, coming soon will be an innovative package of benefits available to law, accounting and consulting firms based on the percentage of members in the firm who maintain their ABI membership.

ABI is the largest provider of continuing education in the insolvency field and our offerings this past year attracted record crowds and highly rated programs. Neil Olack, our Vice President-Education, has skillfully worked with our regional program chairs and ABI event planners to make each seminar fresh in content, giving our audience what they need to succeed. We have several new programs ready to launch over the next several months, including a specialized program aimed at consumer practitioners and a new international program to be held in Puerto Rico. Additionally, our new Bankruptcy Fundamentals program, first presented at last year's Annual Spring Meeting, has provided needed training to help the new generation of professionals who are just becoming active in the insolvency world. We also are expanding our delivery systems for these programs, putting more online where members can access them at their convenience and at lower cost.

Our publications have grown dramatically over the last year, providing great opportunities for members to be published while enhancing the scope of our titles. John Penn has provided strong leadership as our Vice President-Publications, bringing new and diverse products to market in areas such as international practice, first-day motions, consumer bankruptcy, telecommunications and now insurance. Also under John's direction is the ABI web site, which has become the standard for content in the insolvency arena with more than 2 million views per month. With our new web site design, which will be available shortly, our content is better organized and more readily searchable. In other words, we have upgraded the web site to make it even more functional and valuable to our members.

ABI's Endowment Fund has grown to more than $1.2 million, thanks to the efforts of our Vice President-Development, Ben Nortman. In the past year, the Endowment provided key support for both the 25th Anniversary Symposium and the ABI Resident Scholar. We thank Judge Wesley Steen for his dedicated work with the Research Grant Committee in evaluating proposals for grant funding, and providing support for other valuable Endowment uses.

In the international area, Steven Golick and Tracy Sandler spearheaded our volunteers in the creation of the new Global Insolvency site (, a one-stop location for content on global insolvency issues. The site was up and running in short order and is a hit with those tracking international developments.

One of my goals, as ABI's first non-lawyer president, has been to involve more financial professionals in the organization, especially in leadership positions, and to make our committees stronger. I am pleased that we were able to achieve these goals. For instance, we were able to add professionals like Claudia Slacik and Rebecca Roof to our Financial Advisors Committee and Lester Levy to our ADR Committee. We also added several new and distinguished judges to leadership positions, such as Judge Barbara Houser on the ADR Committee and Judge Cecilia Morris on the Court Administration Committee. Additionally, we have strengthened our relationships with other organizations in the insolvency arena through our liaison program. I would like to offer a special thanks to Judge Linda Riegle and Andy Caine for all of their good work with the Judges Liaison Committee, to Melissa Kibler Knoll for her efforts with IWIRC and to John Ames with the American College of Bankruptcy.

Finally, I need to thank all of our sponsors, directors, committee chairs, regional program chairs and advisory board—close friends all—for their support this past year. A special thank you to Sam Gerdano, ABI's Executive Director, and to all of the ABI headquarters staff for their continued commitment to making the organization responsive and open to all members. And no one deserves a greater showing of our appreciation than our outgoing chairman, Richardo Kilpatrick, for his many years of dedication and work for this organization and the leadership he has provided to ABI. I know Michael Richman, our incoming president, shares these thoughts, and I look forward to working with him to sustain our growth for the benefit of the insolvency community.

Journal Date: 
Thursday, April 1, 2004