President’s Message – Spring 2022

Connie Bookman

In December 2023, The Florida Bar Foundation changed its name to FFLA. Posts prior to this date contain our former name.

Foundation executive director Donny MacKenzie and I talk for an hour and a half every Thursday morning. I always leave those calls with a sense of awe in how he is directing the Foundation and utilizing the talent of his staff and board of directors. Those calls are also a lot of fun for me because many times he comes up with brilliant ideas as he is talking through the Foundation’s challenges.

Connie Bookman

Connie Bookman

During one of those calls, we realized that we needed to create the Overall Review Committee. This committee is working to determine if the Foundation should change its mission statement, adopt a fictitious name, and scrutinize and clarify our messaging and branding. Keeping our mission intact is crucial for us to achieve our objectives but raising awareness and understanding of the Foundation’s mission and work will allow us to gain more acceptance and funding from sources other than IOTA and lawyers.

We continue to talk about and maneuver the implementation of the amended IOTA rule, which is by far the most significant and important issue we have and are facing. There is much work to be done, but we have a very good roadmap in my opinion. We are implementing the rule from a staff perspective, developing timesheets for determining IOTA/non-IOTA ratios and studying the budget to develop an operations plan that complies with the rule while keeping the Foundation intact.

Along with that, Donny oversaw the monumental task of developing the fiscal year 2021-22 budget, creating a spending resolution pending the outcome of the task force proposal, and then preparing a budget that applied the amended rule prospectively, which was wise and prudent. This ensured that our $5.88 million grants allocation used previous revenues not current fiscal year collections. The Foundation continues to exercise fiscal restraint and responsibility with its operations budget, adjusting down the retirement contributions for existing and new employees, and adopting a safe harbor retirement plan. And, we enjoyed (again) a clear audit.

We also created the Sustainability Subcommittee, which is exploring how we can create a policy and implement a practice that reasonably compensates the Foundation for administering gifts received commensurate with the effort required to carry out the donor’s intent and the Foundation’s purpose.

Additionally, we are putting in significant effort regarding the potential subleasing of our current Foundation office, and I think the prospect of a new building is very exciting and economically promising.

It’s been a very full year for me. I am grateful that we will be meeting together in person in June. I am excited about the fiscally sound plan of having a morning award ceremony, and I can’t wait to celebrate the winners of the Medal of Honor, Goldstein-Van Nortwick, Jane Elizabeth Curran Distinguished Service and President’s awards.

And, finally, I want to thank all of you who have been so supportive of me as I faced the passing of my husband. The Alan B. Bookman Service in Leadership Award will carry on his legacy, and I look forward to meeting the fine lawyers who will receive this award.