American Bar Endowment names new executive director

The Board of Directors of the American Bar Endowment has appointed Joanne Martin, J.D., M.M., executive director, effective August 6, 2016. Martin will succeed Reneé Z. Leskiw as only the fourth executive director in ABE's nearly 75-year history.

Martin brings more than 40 years of experience within the American Bar Association and ABA-related organizations, most recently as ABE general counsel and administrative services director. Prior to joining ABE in 2007, Martin served 21 years as an administrator and researcher with the American Bar Foundation, the nation's leading independent research institute for the empirical study of law. Her research focuses on the delivery of legal services and access to civil justice. She has co-authored numerous law review articles and two books on these topics with ABF Research Professor Stephen Daniels, most recently, "Tort Reform, Plaintiffs' Lawyers, and Access to Justice," published by Kansas University Press in 2015. Prior to her work at the ABF, she worked for the ABA for eight years in the publications unit and the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. She holds a J.D. from the Loyola University Chicago School of Law, and a M.M. from the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.

"We are delighted to announce Joanne Martin has been named as the next ABE executive director," said Martha W. Barnett, ABE board president. "She brings an immense amount of history and knowledge to the role, and has been a trusted, longtime member of ABE's leadership team. This level of involvement and expertise will ensure a seamless management transition upon the retirement of Reneé Z. Leskiw, ABE's executive director of 22 years."

Founded in 1942, ABE is a not-for-profit public charity that sponsors insurance plans exclusively to qualified attorneys. ABE's insurance program has $25 million in annual premium and is one of the longest-running association affinity insurance programs in the country. ABE recently celebrated its 60th anniversary with New York Life Insurance Company, marking New York Life's oldest affinity relationship.

"We have been fortunate to have extremely intelligent and talented leaders guiding ABE's success for the last 74 years; otherwise we would not be in a position to continue to make such large, important grants to support our mission each year," said J. Anthony "Tony" Patterson Jr., ABE board vice president. "This fiscal year we've made grants of over $7 million, and that's due to the strong performance of our insurance program and the excellent management by Reneé Leskiw, with Joanne Martin by her side. We celebrate with Reneé as she moves on to the joys of retirement, and we are confident that she has built a solid foundation on which we will continue to grow with Joanne's leadership."

ABE's unique and affordable insurance plans offer a charitable giving feature through which insured lawyers are able to make tax-deductible donations of their dividends to ABE to support its charitable mission of improving the administration of justice. ABE makes annual grants in support of that mission, including those made to the ABA Fund for Justice and Education and the American Bar Foundation. Grants throughout ABE's history total more than $270 million and have funded research, educational and public service projects touching every corner of the nation.

"There are certainly challenges ahead," said Martin, "but I am truly looking forward to continuing to work with our wonderful staff and our very committed board of directors to pursue with great enthusiasm the charitable mission of the American Bar Endowment, which is so important to our insured members. Renee has been a stellar administrator who has successfully guided the ABE with her vision, expertise and wisdom over the course of many years; she will be a tough act to follow."

Martin will take the helm of the long-standing organization at a time of rapid change, in both the way lawyers access insurance and the types of coverages they need. To meet those demands, ABE has recently introduced new coverages designed to supplement the rising costs of medical coverage. ABE plans to continue to be first-to-market with innovative insurance plans that meet the needs of ABA member lawyers and their families. For more information on ABE's new Critical Illness plan, visit the ABE website at: new-critical-illness-plan.

Published: Tue, Jun 14, 2016