By Wendy Shparago Cappelletto, Esq., CAP
I am looking forward to the coming year as your president. The past several months have been challenging, and we are all experiencing a new normal in both our personal and professional lives. With the cancellation of NAELA’s Annual Conference in Seattle this past May, we did not have an opportunity to spend time with old friends and make new acquaintances while hearing all of the wonderful presentations that the conference planning committee worked so hard to organize. Nevertheless, while the year ahead promises to be anything but normal, I want to share with you what is normal for NAELA as an organization.
NAELA’s core values are those of standing up for the rights and needs of vulnerable people. As an organization, we welcome different ethnicities and gender identities, as well as different political philosophies and life experiences. We value community. We value education. We live these values.
NAELA Values Advocacy
NAELA’s advocacy initiatives fight for the needs of our clients. Not a single initiative has ever been something to benefit elder and special needs law attorneys. We speak for those who do not have voices to make certain they are heard and get the services they need and deserve. Due to the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the clients we serve, our voices are more important than ever. Our voice is louder and stronger when joined with our partner coalitions in advocating for seniors and persons with disabilities.
Through litigation and regulatory advocacy, research, amicus briefs, education, and scholarships, the NAELA Foundation actively supports people and groups in their efforts to fight for the rights of older adults and people with disabilities.
NAELA Values Community
In these challenging times, NAELA continues to keep members connected to their elder and special needs law community with Listservs, Sections, webinars, and publications. For more than 30 years, NAELA members have been sharing knowledge, comradery, mentorship, and friendship. NAELA members, volunteers, and leaders are united and committed to keeping NAELA strong and inclusive. Travel and other limitations caused by a pandemic will not diminish the culture of NAELA.
NAELA Values Education
When the world shut down this spring, NAELA immediately went into action, providing members with webinars designed to help them get their practices up to speed in the new virtual world with webinars on remote client meetings, the CARES Act, remote phone management, and electronic notary updates. Moreover, we are not stopping there. We are putting more emphasis on virtual education than ever before to meet members where they are.
In a profession dominated by men, I am very excited to be part of the first NAELA Executive Committee comprised solely of women. (President, President-Elect, Vice President, Past President, Treasurer, and Secretary). And as Past President Jennifer VanderVeen, CELA, CAP, Fellow, noted in her Message in the last issue, NAELA has had nine female presidents.
NAELA has two informal taglines: “Doing Well By Doing Good” and “Sharing and Caring.” These concepts resonate as true today as they did more than 30 years ago when NAELA first started. I am looking forward to what we can all do together.