by Doug Sachs
The Florida Bar Leadership Academy Class II on June 27 demonstrated what being leaders is all about by making a collective $34,200 pledge to The Florida Bar Foundation, the Academy’s first such contribution.
“The Foundation is the hidden gem for lawyers who want to give back and make a difference,” said Renee Thompson, chair of Academy Classes I and II. “They do so much to help those who need it the most.”
The William Reece Smith, Jr. Leadership Academy is a training program designed to help lawyers become leaders within the legal profession. The Academy began in 2013 and graduated its first Class in 2014. Academy Fellows meet six times a year throughout the state. The Class of 2014 included 61 Fellows, and the Class of 2015 graduated 60.
The Academy is named for the late Smith, the 1981 recipient of The Florida Bar Foundation’s Medal of Honor Award, a Florida Bar Foundation Fellow and past president of the American Bar Association.
Development Director Donna Marino said the Academy’s Class II initiated the gift on their own.
“The Leadership Academy Class II members contacted the Foundation because they wanted to give the Foundation respect and support befitting its singular role as the philanthropy supporting 30 legal aid organizations statewide through grants that provide legal assistance for the underprivileged and underserved in Florida,” Marino said.
Class II’s decision to support the Foundation followed a presentation to the Academy by Foundation CEO Bruce Blackwell.
“We wanted to do something to give back to the Bar. Bruce’s comments planted the seed,” said Class II Fellow Anitra Raiford. “Our goal was to raise money for The Florida Bar Foundation. We also encouraged each other to become individual Foundation Fellows.”
Foundation Fellows are individuals who pledge to contribute $1,000 to The Florida Bar Foundation payable over five years, or 10 years for young, government and nonprofit lawyers. Fellows contributions go to The Florida Bar Foundation Endowment Trust, the income from which can be drawn upon to supplement revenue from Florida’s Interest on Trust Accounts program and other donations. The Foundation’s more than 2,100 Fellows are considered its core supporters.