DAYL President’s Page
Good, Better, Best – We Did It!
What a year! I never imagined how much serving as DAYL President would enrich my life. It has truly been an honor and I’m so deeply grateful to everyone who made this year a success. I’m always nervous to put together a list of thank yous for fear of leaving someone out, but here goes nothing…
We have had so many successes this year with new and expanded programs and I want to say thank you to the individuals who made that possible. Gemma Galeoto, Rex Mann, Sara Romine, and Christine Wakeman—I’m so proud of the Older Wiser Young Lawyer Roundtables Program and it was so special to bring this program to life with all of you. Matthew Agnew, Heather Davis, and Megan LaDriere—I know you probably thought I was crazy when I told you how much we needed to raise to host Professor Bryan Garner for the DAYL Legal Writing Seminar, but you stuck with it and we made it happen. Katie Bishkin, Jody Rodenberg, Dennis Siaw-Lattey, and Shay Talbitzer—I loved working with you all to help our young lawyers get jury trial experience through the Second Chair Program. Krisi Kastl—You have been such a constant cheerleader for me this year and I’m so incredible grateful that I was able to work with you to make our Women at the Top: Shattering Glass Ceilings? Program a reality. Chelsea Hilliard, Debrán O’Neil, Julie Pettit, Nichole Plagens, Crystal Woods, and others—Thank you for taking on the challenge of expanding the incredibly popular Trial Skills Boot Camp to the year-long Trial Skills Boot Camp CLE Series. It has been so thrilling to see a group of dynamite women lawyers work together to put these programs together and also to support each other in a variety of other ways throughout the year. Shameless plug for anyone reading this to attend our last Trial Skills CLE on Closing Argument on December 12 at 12:00 p.m. at the Belo Mansion. Stephanie Culpepper, Al Ellis, Sarah Rogers, and Dena Stroh—What a night we had at our Past Presidents’ Dinner just a few weeks ago! Thank you so much for working to get such a large group together for a very memorable night. Stefanie Bradshaw and Whitney Green—Thank you for busting your tails to raise sponsorship dollars to make the DAYL Social at the Ballpark with the Tarrant County Young Lawyers Association and the Arlington Young Lawyers Association possible.
As I have visited with bar leaders from throughout the state, I have come to realize just how special our Dallas judges are. Time and time again, you all stepped up to host and attend DAYL programs. A special thank you to Judge Bonnie Goldstein, Judge Martin Hoffman, and Judge Tina Yoo Clinton for playing vital roles in various DAYL programs and events this year. Every time we ask any one of you to do something to help DAYL, you say yes and we are very, very thankful. And an extra special thank you to Judge Catharina Haynes, Chief Judge Barbara M. G. Lynn, Justice Elizabeth Lang-Miers, and Judge Tonya Parker. I don’t know how you all have time to do everything you do, but I’m so grateful that you each agreed to be interviewed for our Continuing the Conversation Interview Series. It was truly one of the highlights of my year and I will carry your advice with me as I continue in my journey as a woman lawyer.
I am so lucky to have served as DAYL President the same year as Michael Hurst served as Dallas Bar Association President. Thank you for inviting me to sing at your Inaugural Ball and for including me in so many other special moments throughout this year. Working with you on the DBA Board, in planning and facilitating the Second Chair Program, and as a participant in the DBA WE Lead Program, I have developed such an admiration for you. I’m lucky that I get to call you a friend.
I know other DAYL presidents will disagree, but I am fortunate to have served among the best DAYL Board of Directors of all time. Throughout the year and at different times, you each stood up to help make our programs go off without a hitch. Aubrey Boswell, Stefanie Bradshaw, Helen Hutton, Marisa Jeffrey, Haleigh Jones, Megan LaDriere, Dwayne Lewis, Rex Mann, Nicole Muñoz, Barbara Pelaez, Janet Smith, Koi Spurlock, Paige Tackett, and Ashley Withers—My life is so much better having known each of you. From our lunches leading up to 2018 and many, many events, meetings, and conversations later, I thank you for being such a great support system and for trusting me to lead our dynamic Board this year!
We are so lucky to have had such a great group of Texas Young Lawyers Association and ABA/YLD representatives as part of our DAYL Board of Directors. Thank you to Aaron Burke, Lindsay Forbes, Jay Forester, Britney Harrison, Tim Newman, Courtney Perez, and Lindsey Vanden Eykel for making sure our board meetings were covered this year and for bragging on DAYL to our friendly affiliate competitors. And the most massive thank you to Sally Pretorius for talking the talk and walking the walk. You are a force to be reckoned with. And you are having such a great year as TYLA President because you are a genuine and servant-hearted leader. There were so many times this year that I watched your social media and knew you were traveling/in meetings/busy with work/etc. and yet you made time to attend our programs and events. From the Continuing the Conversation Interview Series to the OWLs Roundtables, thank you for making my presidential initiatives a priority!
To Dakota Brewer, Veronica Carroll, and Hailey Hughes, thank you for jumping into your role as law school liaison for your respective law school with such incredible fervor. It is not easy to join our group; we have inside jokes and many of us have been in practice long enough to not remember much about law school. It would be easy to be intimidated, but not y’all. You made it seem like you have been on our Board for years and years. I look forward to seeing you develop into young lawyers and bar leaders in the years to come.
Many difficult days this year were made bearable because of the incredible officers with whom I had the pleasure of serving this year. Justin Gobert, Whitney Green, and Andy Jones—At different times this year, you have each been a sounding board for me and have provided the best advice and input along the way. I’m so looking forward to seeing each of you lead our fine organization in the coming years! And a special shout-out to Andy Jones for always proof-reading and providing useful edits to make my President’s Column Good, Better, Best this year!
A monstrous thank you to the best President-Elect there ever was, Charlie Gearing. You joked about just being around to carry my purse, but anyone who has been paying attention knows you have been a major player in all we have accomplished this year. When I asked you to step up and help on a project or committee, you were there. When I took a risk with a new idea, you were the first one to defend it. You are a wonderful leader and an even better friend. There is no better person to lead DAYL in 2019!
To The Cherie Harris—You have been there through the highs and the lows this year. Thank you for doing anything and everything you could to make all of our events and projects a success. You are the heartbeat of DAYL and I’m so grateful that we have you as our Executive Director!
There is probably no way to adequately prepare a law firm for the time and energy it takes to serve in this capacity. It truly has been a second (third, if you count the mom gig) full-time job. Thank you to my colleagues at McGuire, Craddock & Strother for your incredible support this year. From my awesome legal assistant for going above and beyond to make my legal work more efficient—to my MCS Lady Lawyers, Amy Kearney, Leslie Roussev, and Lauren Smyth, for consistently supporting me by attending DAYL events (and for being the most amazing support system)—to my Managing Partner, Mark Chevallier, and the other Shareholders for sponsoring countless events, hosting several others at the firm’s offices, and being gracious enough to allow me to devote the time to make DAYL Good, Better, Best this year. I’m so lucky to get to practice law with people like you.
I have the most awesome parents—Gary and Donna Larson (aka Lolli and Pops). They have always been my support system and they stepped up big this year; keeping Drew when we had an event, listening to and offering suggestions on new programming ideas, and just being there. My Mom is the reason I knew I could be a working mom and my Dad is the reason I knew I could find a husband who would support me in doing so. Grateful is not a big enough word.
I want to talk to anyone who pretends that working and raising a family is effortless. It is far from it. For all the good, it can also be hard, messy, time-consuming, frustrating, and emotionally exhausting. I am incredibly blessed to try to balance it all with my amazing husband, Andy Ryback. You have sacrificed so much this year. You took Drew to school in the morning when I had a committee meeting or event, you handled dinner and bedtime when I had a nighttime event, you were my trusted advisor as I encountered obstacles this year, and you were my handsome plus one more times than I can count. I know I’m not good at expressing my gratitude to you, but here it is in writing. I am thankful for you. I am better because of you.
Thank you, God, for surprising us with our little guy in your perfect timing. He is funny, sweet, mischievous, smart, too-big-for-his-britches, kind, and just such a joy. Being a working mom is not for the faint of heart. There are times that are just so gut-wrenchingly tough (like surviving this past weekend’s stomach bug) and this year has meant constantly juggling, sacrificing, and prioritizing. But, Drew, you are worth it and I hope you will be a better person because of the examples your Dad and I set for you.
Now that I have cried off all of my mascara, let me say simply—thank you. Thank you to all of you for the role you played in making 2018 such a remarkable year for me and for my beloved DAYL. I’m looking forward to an even better 2019! #BuildDAYL
Good, Better, Best,