It was my great honor June 23 to receive the gavel signifying Foundation leadership
Michele Kane Cummings
from John Noland, who has done so much as president — and together with his wife Pam, as donors — to further the Foundation's mission.
Message from Foundation President Michele Kane Cummings
Later that evening, at the Foundation's annual dinner, I was inspired by the words of Bruce Blackwell upon his acceptance of the well-deserved 2011 Florida Bar Foundation Medal of Honor for a lawyer.
Bruce used the occasion to urge those in attendance to step up their financial support for the Foundation.
In his acceptance remarks, Bruce pointed out that the Foundation's once substantial reserves have been largely consumed as a result of an extended period of low interest rates, which have cut IOTA revenue to 88 percent below where it was during his 2007-08 term as president. As a consequence, he said, the Foundation needs bold ideas to raise the $15 to $20 million needed to meet a near-term and, we expect, temporary shortfall.
Bruce recommended specific ways we all can help, such as by becoming members of The Legacy for Justice, a special giving society for those making or facilitating major or planned gifts of $10,000 or more, or by becoming double Fellows, essentially repeating our original $1,000 pledge to the Foundation.
I encourage anyone willing and able to take on Bruce's challenge to contact the Foundation's director of development, Tim Bachmeyer, at (800) 541-2195 or email@example.com.
It also struck me that the story behind the recipient of the 2011 Medal of Honor Award for a non-lawyer, Katie Self, is a perfect example of why it is so important that we join forces in helping sustain the Foundation and its grantees.
In the mid-90s, Katie, as executive director of the Sarasota Teen Court, Florida's first such program, used a $6,800 Improvements in the Administration of Justice grant from the Foundation to help create the Florida Association of Teen Courts. That little spark lit a big fire.
Today, there are more than 22,000 at-risk children in 50 Florida counties diverted into Teen Courts every year.
The Foundation has many similar stories in which the enduring impact of its funding has spread statewide and nationally. The cumulative effects of the Foundation's leadership and funding on access to justice in the state of Florida are truly astonishing.
I look forward to working with the Foundation's able and dedicated staff and board in the coming year as we together strive to ensure that the Foundation's far-reaching effects continue unabated.
Michele Kane Cummings