We’ve Set NCAJ Up For Long-Term Success

By Kim Crouch

Shortly before Christmas with the holiday season in full swing, the North Carolina Advocates for Justice received a gift that members will value for years to come. On Dec. 16, 2019, the NCAJ’s Board of Governors approved a comprehensive, five-year strategic plan that sets this organization on a path toward a modern, sustainable future.

We announced the news about the plan in December, and I am already working with members and staff to put it into action. But I want to take a moment as we begin the new year to reflect on this pivotal moment for our organization. I am humbled and honored to be leading NCAJ at this time and I am confident that we will look back on the adoption of the strategic plan with a true sense of pride. We have set NCAJ up for long-term success that will allow us to continue to protect the people, fight the powerful, prevent injustice and promote fairness.

More than a collection of bullet-points, the strategic plan is a brave and bold vision that reflects the fabric of who we are and what we stand for as an organization. NCAJ is so much more than just a legal membership organization. NCAJ is a powerful force that fights for the underdog every single day. It is comprised of passionate people with various backgrounds, experiences and areas of practice. Oftentimes, our differences can seem more pronounced than our similarities and cloud our ability to see NCAJ’s true purpose and value. The beauty of this plan is that it showcases to each and every one of us the value in our collective association and the strength in our community.

The plan outlines NCAJ’s vision, mission and goals and defines measurable and achievable benchmarks. It holds the NCAJ leadership and staff that support the organization accountable. And, it provides every member with a roadmap for who we are, what we do, and where we are headed in the coming years.

Specifically, the plan sets out the following strategic goals for the next five years:

  •  Become the legal community of choice for North Carolina trial lawyers, legal professionals and allies
  • Be the leading advocacy group in the fight for individual rights and justice
  • Ensure long-term financial sustainability to support the NCAJ mission
  • Create greater brand awareness of NCAJ to maximize impact and influence

For more on the plan, take a look at the highlights we outlined here.

The plan also defines performance indicators and requires that the Strategic Planning Committee continue to provide oversight. It is truly a gift that will keep on giving, as the drafters of the plan will remain engaged in the implementation process.

I have never been particularly fond of strategic plans. I have watched various groups of volunteers put in countless hours of time and energy into a strategic planning process only to watch the finished documents be placed on an office shelf shortly thereafter. I have seen how that not only hurts the organization from a programing standpoint but also how it negatively impacts volunteer enthusiasm and overall morale.

That will not be the case with this plan. This plan will not be shelved.

In order to remain a viable and relevant membership organization, we simply do not have the luxury to do so. The legal marketplace is ever changing, and now more than ever NCAJ needs to follow a strategic course of action that its leadership has carefully outlined. I am committed to implementing the goals outlined in this plan over the next five years.

The NCAJ Strategic Planning Committee participated in a deliberative process over the course of five working sessions during the fall of 2019 to create this plan. I want to thank the following members of the Committee for their dedication and commitment:

David Henson, Committee Chair
Cliff Britt
Kristen Dewar
Jennifer Lechner
John McCabe
Kevin Murphy
Ann Ochsner
Jason Orndoff
Melissa Owen
Annemarie Pantazis

I also want to thank Mary Moss and Kim Glenn from moss+ross for their professional guidance and assistance. The expertise and experience they brought to the process was invaluable and helped guide us to success.

To stake out a commitment to a clear vision is a remarkable achievement for an organization, particularly one that is working to adapt to an ever-changing legal landscape. If we work together to implement this vision, we can give NCAJ the gift of a long and productive future.

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