We had some big changes at Trustees last year.
We moved into a new office and are still settling in as we continue to transition from remote work to a hybrid workplace where we get to connect in person again.
We said goodbye to our longtime colleague and friend Brian Litmans, who moved to Vermont to begin the next chapter of his life, and we will soon welcome back Joanna Cahoon, who finished her legal fellowship last fall and will return as a staff attorney next month.
All the while, I’ve been slowly taking on more of Brian’s responsibilities as legal director, fully stepping into that role this month.
It’s a big lift, but I look forward to getting back into the legal mindset. I’ve been seeing Trustees through an executive director perspective for about nine years now, so my legal skills feel a bit rusty. (Good thing I’ve got a great team to help me along the way!)
I’m glad I can bring a different set of skills and experiences to the legal program. When doing administrative work, you’ve got your finger on all the different things that make an organization healthy and productive and that includes visioning and thinking ahead.
The same goes for legal work. It’s important to use our expertise to make good change in all ways, not just through litigation. We’ve always taken that approach. Now I’m looking forward to doing so with fresh eyes and heart.
I remember as a young lawyer putting all my focus on litigation when in the heat of motion practice as well as shepherding clients through administrative processes. Now I see clearly how important it is to to look up and out to see the bigger picture of the change we are working toward and collaborating with a broader array of partners with different perspectives when possible.
This feels even more important after COVID when we weren’t together so much.
And maybe more important, too, because of political and social divisions that have driven people to take sides rather than thinking things through together to solve problems.
The law is rife with divisions, of course, and working within it can feel at times awkward and limiting. Many laws were written and promoted by people with power for the purpose of protecting that power, and also some laws have done important work in bringing about change.
Though the legal space can seem like a binary win/lose place sometimes, ill-equipped and even incapable of addressing the complex scheme created by people to manage people, it can also transform how we treat each other. That’s the space we want to fit into.
I’m excited to be involved again in legal work centered on that—how to transform how we think about and address our shared challenges, like the climate crisis, and how we treat each other, how we treat the land and water, how we treat animals and living systems that make up the world in which we live and belong.
Plus, getting back into legal work lets me connect with our legal staff more regularly and deeply, and to learn from them.
I know I’ll be working some longer days while we find someone to take on the legal director role, but I look forward to re-engaging those legal brain cells.
Digging into the legal work with colleagues, clients and partners will surely strengthen my ability to do my job as executive director in building relationships around shared values and supporting the good work and solutions so many of you strive for every day.
PS. Thanks to supporters like you, we can continue fighting to protect Alaska’s land, water, air, wildlife and people!