You may have noticed big changes to the Oklahoma Bar Foundation (OBF) in the past year. This is greatly due to the leadership and vision of Jack L. Brown. Mr. Brown served as OBF Board President from 2014 – 2015. During this time, he led efforts to begin instituting major changes to the OBF by concentrating on fundraising, communications and outreach. He had the foresight to hire Fundraising Consultant, Dennis Dorgan. Mr. Brown, Mr. Dorgan and a hiring committee made up of OBF Trustees set forth to hire Director of Development & Communications, Candice Jones. The Board of Trustees and staff then held a Board retreat to devise a strategic development & communications plan. Since then the organization has rebranded, updated giving levels, designed a new website, revamped materials, enhanced outreach efforts to the legal community, reengaged its constituents at its 70th Anniversary Celebration and focused on making OBF Grantees the centerpiece of all communications efforts.
In honor of Mr. Brown’s exemplary efforts to modernize and advance the OBF, the organization recently renamed the Gerald B. Klein Award to the Gerald B. Klein – Jack L. Brown Award. This award honors the outstanding service and dedication to the Oklahoma Bar Foundation shown by Presidents Klein & Brown. Mr. Klein served as OBF Board President from 1957-1958. He was instrumental in establishing the OBF during his term as Oklahoma Bar Association president in 1946 and he was one of the seven original OBF incorporators and trustees.
“During the past 70 years, the OBF has been fortunate to have outstanding leadership that has helped guide it through its growth from a small foundation to one that continues to have a state-wide impact through grants to 23 grantees as well as courts throughout the state,” says board President Millie Otey. “Jack Brown has been a visionary for the OBF in each and every action that he has taken during his tenure. As President, he set a new course in line with a modern day mission, oversaw transitional issues and continued to lead through active participation at all levels. The Board of Trustees unanimously agreed that Jack Brown has shown the dedication that was present in the original leadership and has presented a contemporary vision that has been fully embraced by the Board of Trustees. The renaming of the Klein Award to the Klein-Brown Award is a fitting tribute both to our past leadership and to our modern day leadership and dedication to the OBF.”
The renaming of the award was announced officially at the OBA Annual Meeting in November.
“Having this award renamed in my honor is most humbling to me,” says Past President Brown. “I’m so appreciative of the OBF Trustees for the recognition of my service and strong dedication to the Foundation over a 12-year period. The OBF now has new leadership with a new focus and direction to accomplish its overall mission of providing grant funding to law related service organizations serving Oklahomans who otherwise would not have access to the justice system. This award recognizes those lawyers and others who are committed by their service and accomplishments in furtherance of the OBF mission.”
The OBF Board of Trustees seeks to honor the legacy of those like Mr. Klein and Mr. Brown, who promote the foundation’s core value to ensure justice is possible for all Oklahomans through the promotion of law, education and access to justice. The award is presented to an individual or individuals within the State of Oklahoma who have rendered valuable service in improving the administration of justice and who exemplify the spirit and mission of the Oklahoma Bar Foundation.
The first recipient of the newly named award is Jennifer Castillo of Oklahoma City. Ms. Castillo is a 2002 graduate of OCU School of Law and works at OG&E as general counsel. She serves on the executive committee of the OBF Board of Trustees as secretary and treasurer, and will serve as vice president in 2017. She also served as chair of the OBA Young Lawyers Division in 2012, is currently the OBA Awards Committee chair and will represent the OBA as vice president in 2017.
“Jennifer’s dedication to both the OBF and OBA is long-established, and illustrates why she is the first lawyer in many, many years to receive this OBF award,” says OBF Executive Director Renee DeMoss. “Jennifer provides a daily example of leadership and service that is a model for all of us to follow.”
Congratulations, Jack L. Brown & Jennifer Castillo, and thank you for your devotion to the Oklahoma Bar Foundation!
Tribute to Gerald B. Klein
Gerald B. Klein assumed the [OBA] Presidency at the close of the Annual Meeting in 1945. World War II was drawing to an end. The days were perilous… Neither the perils of the days nor the problems of the Association dismayed Gerald B. Klein. He brought to the position knowledge, perception and consecration unsurpassed… The superlative accomplishments of our Association under [his] Presidency are known to those who served under his inspired leadership. Nevertheless, generations of lawyers yet unborn will enjoy the fruits of his labors… First and foremost, among [his] accomplishments stand the Oklahoma Bar Foundation – for he designed it. Not only did he father the OBF, he made the first contribution. Thereafter he proudly displayed the canceled check.
“So when a great man dies,
For years beyond our ken
The light he leaves behind him
Falls upon the path of men.”
Excerpts from “Tribute to Gerald B. Klein” written for placement in the archives of the BOG and OBA after his death in 1968.