Wisconsin Lawyer: Inside the Bar: A Calm Hand:

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    Inside the Bar: A Calm Hand

    George Brown

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    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 79, No. 12, December 2006

    A Calming Hand

    Convention and special events guru and former Administration Director Pat Kelley retires in December to warmer climes, leaving friends and colleagues in the capable hands of his long-time meeting planning assistant.

    by George C. Brown ,
    State Bar executive director

    George Brown

    A past president of the State Bar said it best when he described his experience as a master of ceremonies during his term as State Bar president. There were several hundred lawyers in the audience, members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, appellate and circuit court judges, and assorted guests. He had been rather nervous, unusual for him as an experienced trial lawyer, worrying whether everything would go as planned, hoping all the speakers would say the right thing in the right way. Then, as he stood on the podium surveying the audience, he saw Pat Kelley standing calmly in the back of the huge hall, his hands clasped on his black notebook, smiling and nodding in his direction. He knew instantly that everything would be all right.

    Pat KelleyPat Kelley has been at the helm of every State Bar convention for the last 22 years. His meticulous attention to detail, his constant communication with the hundreds of volunteers and staff needed to create a convention, and his steady calm even when clouds of disaster have appeared on the horizon, all have worked together to create successful educational programs and special events for the tens of thousands of lawyers who have attended State Bar conventions since 1984.

    Pat retires on Dec. 19 and will turn the convention reins over to his able assistant for these last 16 years, Donna Kinney. We will miss Pat not only for his work on conventions but also because he did so much more during his years at the State Bar. For about 15 years, until he requested to work part-time about two years ago, Pat also served as Director of Administration, overseeing the maintenance and operations of the State Bar building, including much of the work that went into creating the current State Bar Center, as well as the customer service operations and personnel matters. He also managed numerous special events, including Board of Governors meetings, and served as staff liaison to the Young Lawyers Division and to the recently created Senior Lawyers Division.

    Outside the State Bar, Pat put his special talent for planning to work for the National Association of Bar Executives as a member of the Program Committee and served as president of the Wisconsin Chapter of Meeting Planners International, from whom he received the Planner of the Year Award and, most recently, the Hall of Fame Award. For the past 10 years, he has been an active contributor to the Greater Madison Convention and Visitor Bureau (GMCVB), working in a variety of capacities, including negotiating the contract that brought the national Ironman contest to Madison, and ultimately serving as GMCVB president from 2000 to 2002. Currently, he is a Trustee of Spirit of Greater Madison, which provides funding support to the GMCVB's economic development and educational initiatives.

    When Pat retires this month, State Bar staff and so many lawyers who have worked with Pat on the Convention Committee, the Board of Governors, and the Young Lawyers and Senior Lawyers divisions will be losing both a work colleague and a friend. I will be losing a friend with whom I have worked shoulder to shoulder and have agreed and disagreed (but who has never been disagreeable), and with whom I have hunted and golfed (although now that he is retired I lose all hope of ever beating him at the latter). I know I will see him again, whenever he is in Wisconsin, but I will miss him just the same. And so will many lawyers throughout Wisconsin.

    Have a safe and happy retirement, my friend. You deserve it.