As I begin my tenure as OBF president, “a new beginning” is a tempting theme – and for the first issue of the New Year its lure, despite the cliché, is hard to resist for this column. We all start each new year with hopes for growth and renewal, along with curiosity at what the new year will bring. As Forrest Gump so famously stated over ten years ago (yes ten), “Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re gonna get.” It is with this sense of wonder and excitement that I hope you all bring in 2015.

2015 OBF President Jack L. Brown of Tulsa

It’s a new year, and I for one am excited to get this thing started; the holidays were fun, but if I eat one more piece of pecan pie or sip of egg nog, I may just have to buy a new belt. In our heads, new beginnings are a little like New Year’s Eve (or our fantasy about New Year’s Eve): glittery, fun, and possibly includes a massive celebratory balloon drop. However, the reality is always more complicated than the fantasy. So let’s set aside the warm embrace of holiday sweatpants and jump into new opportunities —there is power in fresh starts, but that power is not in the sparkle of the balloon drop. It’s in the hard work that comes afterwards.

The Bar Foundation’s planning for this year has embraced the idea of a “new beginning” with new and exciting developments that are designed to take the OBF to that next level which has yet to be defined. Your OBF has grown into an over twelve million dollar non-profit organization, with revenues close to a million dollars annually. This success brings new challenges for the OBF, which must be addressed to maintain the upward growth and ability to provide additional and larger grants to public service organizations affecting our justice system and the people we serve.

To address this growing need, the OBF Board of Trustees has approved the hiring of a development director to work with the board and the executive director in the areas of fundraising and external relations. The development director will work closely with the board development committee and concentrate on increasing IOLTA bank interest rates and recruiting additional fellows to the ranks of the Bar Foundation.  The development director search committee has been formed and should conclude its work in early March 2015 with a recommendation of a candidate to the board for hire by the Foundation.

To assist in this process, the Board of Trustees has hired an experienced consultant, Dennis Dorgan from Minnesota, who will assist the selection committee and work with the board on composing a three to five year fundraising plan of action. Mr. Dorgan will conduct a statewide feasibility study for the fundraising plan of action this month by meeting with numerous fellows and supporters of the Bar Foundation.

After the development director has been hired, the board will conduct a planning retreat in late March at Postoak Lodge to work with Foundation Trustees and staff in the development of this plan of action. Mr. Dorgan will facilitate the retreat, which will culminate in a written report for use by the Foundation and its development director on how to meet and exceed the goals set forth therein as established by the Trustees.

My dreams for this “new beginning” are to see our OBF endowment grow five to ten percent each year.  The work of the OBF is so important to so many state wide organizations assisting the poor, the elderly, children, and many others through the various nonprofits supported by grant awards from the Bar Foundation.  OBA members who are also OBF members should consider it their duty to be a Fellow of the Oklahoma Bar Foundation. I truly believe we have an obligation to give back to our state and communities for the privilege to serve the people and our clients. Lets’ all be a part of this “new beginning” and embrace the new year by becoming OBF Fellows!


Jack L. Brown