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The Legacies We Inherit and Leave

8/28/2017

August 28, 2017

I retired as the Director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts on August 1, 2017, having had the incredible privilege and honor of a 40 plus year career with the Illinois Courts. After submitting my retirement notice to Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier and the Justices of the Supreme Court, I was humbled by the many gracious expressions of congratulations and support for my work. I was surprised that the only comments of “what took you so long” simply came from my loving sons, who now introduce me as “Father Time”, and my already retired siblings!

This brief column cannot adequately begin to serve as the medium for me to express my deepest gratitude and appreciation for the opportunities and trust that were extended to me by Chief Justice Karmeier, his predecessors as Chief Justice, Rita B. Garman and Thomas L. Kilbride, and the most gifted and wise Justices of the Illinois Supreme Court. I am indebted to the Court, their dedicated and loyal staff, all of Illinois’ 983 judges, the wonderful staff of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC) and all of the professionals who daily serve Illinois’ “Third Branch” in doing the work of justice.  I thank you all!

The office of the Administrative Director was created in 1964 with the revisions to the Judicial Article of the Illinois Constitution. Since that time, the Court has appointed a Director (and staff) of its administrative office to work with the Chief Justice in the exercise of the Court’s administrative authority over all of the courts in Illinois. In reflecting back on my career with the AOIC, it became clear that my family’s loving nickname of “Father Time” might be substantially more appropriate than I want to acknowledge! I served as the Court’s 12th Director (a most meaningful number in our justice system’s appointment [generally] of citizens to serve on a jury) and had the privilege of working under the leadership and stewardship of eight Directors!

It is not a cliché to say that most of us who are credited with success stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. We have much to learn from our predecessors, and it is not simply limited to drawing on their wealth of experiences. It is about legacies of character, competencies, discipline, passion, vision, humility and principled decision-making. Leaders’ legacies are rooted in not just their technical skills or the ability to solve complex challenges, but are based upon their commitment to core organizational values, including empowering others. A legacy of a great leader includes developing other leaders.

I was privileged to experience professional and personal connections and support with my two most recent predecessors in the office of the Director – Joseph A. Schillaci and Cynthia Y. Cobbs (Justice – Illinois Appellate Court-First District). Their legacy of mindful and principled leadership is a gift for which I am forever grateful.  While we are influenced by powerful people, we also need to find and express our own voice – perhaps the most important legacy any of us can leave is the life that we live.

I offer my sincere congratulations to Marcia Meis as she begins to build what will be a most positive and profound legacy of leadership as the Administrative Director of the Illinois Courts.

Thank you and peace.