Grand Rapids Bar Association annual meeting introduces new board, officers



by Cynthia Price
Legal News

At a well-attended soiree last Thursday evening held at the B.O.B.’s fourth floor venue called Eve, the Grand Rapids Bar Association (GRBA) focused on officers both old and new.

On July 1, Patrick F. Geary, of Smith Haughey Rice and Roegge will take over where Gruel Mills Nims and Pylman’s Thomas R. Behm leaves off in leading the GRBA board. Geary says he is excited about the upcoming year, and looking forward to talking about it further in a future issue of the Grand Rapids Legal News.

The mission of the GRBA is “to promote justice, professional excellence and respect for the law, foster the dignity and integrity of the profession, provide law-related services to the community, and serve the needs of our members.” The well-run organization was incorporated in 1902, when the first president (Thomas J. O’Brien) was elected, but it was actually begun as a formal association even earlier, in 1896.

Though there are some exceptions, individuals who are elected Vice-President go on to become President-Elect and then President, in order to assure that incoming officers are deeply familiar with the ongoing planning of the organization.

Hon. Christopher P. Yates, judge of the 17th Circuit Court and the current Vice-President, will move up to President-Elect on July 1. Elizabeth “Joy” Fossel of Varnum has accepted the vice-presidency, and is also excited about playing a role in the leadership of the Bar Association.

In general, the positions of secretary and treasurer are not within the succession line-up. This year, Randall L. Velzen, family law attorney at Velzen, Johnsen and Wikander, has served as secretary, and Elizabeth Bransdorfer of Mika Meyer Beckett and Jones was treasurer. Both of their terms end in 2015, so they will not continue on the GRBA board.

The incoming secretary will be  Benjamin H. Hammond of Hilger and Hammond PC. Serving as treasurer for the 2015-2016 term will be William M. Azkoul, also an attorney at Gruel Mills, Nims and Pylman.

The only other current board member whose term expires is Sarah Riley Howard of  Pinsky, Smith, Fayette & Kennedy.

The 2015-2016 board will consist of Angel C. (Dotson) Duff of Alticor; Joseph J. Gavin, Miller Johnson; Bradley K. Glazier, Bos and Glazier; Anita L. Hitchcock, Kent County; Marcus R. Jones, Amway Global; Brian K. Lawson, Lawson Law Offices; Molly E. McManus, Warner Norcross and Judd;  Courtney L. Quist, Quist Hansen; and Thomas G. Sinas, Sinas and Dramis. Hitchcock, McManus, and Sinas are newly elected.

At the annual meeting, GRBA also recognized the winners of the Law Day awards.

The association could not be as successful as it is without  the staff, which includes Kim Coleman, Executive Director; Debbie Kurtz, Executive Assistant; Tricia Swanson, Administrative Assistant; Mieke Stoub, Membership and Marketing  Coordinator; and Nancy King, Administrator of the Lawyer Referral and Information Service.