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TCL > October 2001 Issue > Congratulations and Thanks!

October 2001       Vol. 30, No. 10       Page  95
CBA President's Message to Members

Congratulations and Thanks!
by Laird T. Milburn

In September, the University of Denver College of Law ("DU") recognized Chuck Turner, Executive Director of the Denver and Colorado Bar Associations, for his long and distinguished service to the Bar. At the prestigious DU "Law Stars" dinner, Chuck was lauded for his professional achievements as an alumnus of the law school and dedication to the legal profession. As every CBA President for the past twenty-one years (Chuck’s tenure as Executive Director) will attest, the honor is more than deserved. It was earned "the old-fashioned way," by years of hard work and unswerving commitment to the best interests of this profession. Chuck would most likely say that, for him, it has been a labor of love.

Largely due to his dedication, the CBA has become the envy of state bar associations around the country and a national leader on many issues the profession has faced in the past few years. Almost 80 percent of the practicing bar of this state belongs to the CBA, a number unheard of within the community of voluntary state bar associations such as ours. The CBA has taken a cutting-edge role on the challenges presented by multidisciplinary practice, multijurisdictional practice, professional and justice system reform, and public access to the courts. Many of the profession’s best and brightest members are actively involved in CBA committee and section activities so vital to the professional development of the lawyers of this state. The CBA has an enthusiastic, well trained, and generally contented staff. The Colorado bench and bar enjoy a good working relationship, which benefits both the profession and the justice system. Finally, the CBA is involved in such public interest projects as the Family Violence Program.

While Chuck would point out that such success stories are the fruits of the vision, labor, and dedication of the CBA membership, which is undoubtedly true, it is also due to the leadership provided by Chuck over the past two decades. Here are a few impressions of CBA and staff members who have worked closely with Chuck over the years.

I was a vice-president the last year that Bill Miller was Executive Director. He had announced his decision to retire, and the bar leadership were apoplectic that the world was coming to an end. Chuck smoothly took over and has run it pretty much just as smoothly since then. He is the conscience of the bar and the guide to the president, keeping it all in perspective. Wiley [Daniel, another former CBA president] will recall the turmoil of Amendment 2 and Chuck’s ability to engineer a compromise that got us through that debacle. Best of all, he has remained one of my best friends ever since. What a collection of friends he has and how fortunate I am to be one of them!

—John Dunn, Former CBA President (1993-94)


Chuck is one of the funniest and most creative people I’ve ever known. His energy amazes me, as does his ability to grab thoughts and insights out of the air, put them into a reasoned group, and then convince people they are true and he is right. No matter that he’s been at the bar associations forever, he doesn’t slide through any meetings. He’s at the table with his ideas and arguments, enthusiastic or agitated, but always an important part of the process. He’s a fountain of ideas (that he gives immediately to staff to carry out), and is the first to say "let’s take the high road." Watching him work with our leaders and precious volunteers is an education—he is a model in diplomacy.

—Diane Hartman, CBA/DBA Assistant Executive Director


Chuck somehow manages, year in and year out, to provide a seamless transition from one volunteer leader to the next so that the work of the association moves steadily forward regardless of who is president. Doing this requires a masterly skill at managing egos, knowing when to push or pull, and when to stand aside, all the while letting the president get all the glory. To top it off, he is such fun to be around and he has a special talent for keeping the staff enthusiastic, generally happy and, like him, dedicated to advancing the best interests of the profession. I cannot imagine a more perfect blend of talent and skills for the position he has held now for over twenty years.

—Dale Harris, Former
DBA and CBA President
(1993-94 and 2000-01)


Chuck has worn many hats for as long as he has been Executive Director. For me, he has primarily worn three, that of administrative head of the CBA/DBA staff, liaison for the CBA leadership, and member of The Colorado Lawyer Board of Editors. In Board of Editors meetings, Chuck has juggled his Board member and CBA liaison hats in a way that has served the best interests of us all—and sometimes that has not been easy. I believe one of Chuck’s best traits is to leave people alone to do their jobs. Chuck has allowed me to handle the myriad details necessary for the day-to-day operation of the bar publication, but is always willing to talk over a problem when one arises. He has an open-door policy. I have so enjoyed our personal relationship and am grateful to have had Chuck’s trust and support throughout my years at the CBA.

Arlene Abady, Managing Editor, The Colorado Lawyer

During the years that I have served in various capacities with the Colorado Bar Association, it has been my privilege to work with Chuck. He provides leadership that helps make the Colorado Bar Association a premier service organization. One of those reasons is Chuck Turner’s dedication to the Association. I will relate just one example. Chuck had asked my husband to help him fulfill a lifelong wish to visit a rather unique and special place—I’ll leave the details out, but suffice it to say that it was unusual and difficult to be able to visit the site. As it turns out, the opportunity arose, and the phone calls were made. However, the visit was scheduled on the date of a CBA Board of Governors meeting. Chuck agonized a bit, but the result was always clear. He turned down the opportunity and went to the Board of Governors meeting. That’s true dedication!

Rebecca Koppes Conway,
Former CBA President (1997–98)


It has been both my privilege and personal pleasure to work closely with Chuck throughout virtually his entire legal career. No one in the legal community has been more important in encouraging and supporting the CBA’s vigorous efforts to ensure access to justice for all. His support of legal services, pro bono programs, and innovations by the bench and the bar to respond to unrepresented litigants has been unsurpassed. He has worked diligently to balance the CBA’s responsibilities to its membership with the profession’s need to respond to the public good. He has not and does not see these as inconsistent demands, but as a single challenge, and he has committed his professional life to meeting this challenge. Chuck is a model of competence, commitment, and character. We are all most grateful for his devotion to serving the profession and the public.

—Jonathan D. Asher, Executive Director,
Colorado Legal Services


Throughout his tenure as CBA/DBA Executive Director, Chuck has been the consummate professional. He is low-key, yet effective and persuasive. On a personal level, it was a pleasure to work with him on issues large and small in my capacity as CBA president. He is an honest broker and thoughtful advisor. I think Chuck’s exceptional work and talents are of special value to the bar associations on many levels beyond the personal. Such successes are often overlooked, yet are as significant as the Rocky Mountains reflected on Colorado Bar Association stationery. For example, he has nurtured a highly competent and extraordinarily stable staff. The complex and nationally unprecedented melding of the offices of a state bar association with that of a large metropolitan bar association has continued to work well. The CBA is a voluntary bar association, unlike the mandatory bars of many states; yet our membership levels have remained high, in no small part due to Chuck’s efforts. Also, for the most part, the CBA and DBA have avoided the bitter political and personal fights that have torn apart bar associations in other states and cities. The special talents of our Executive Director have helped achieve high levels of consensus and issue resolution without undue acrimony. The CBA and DBA have operated on lean budgets and have remained financially strong throughout Chuck’s tenure. Chuck has always recognized and operated under the principle that it is the membership, through its designated leaders, that is in charge, not the staff (at least that’s what he lets us think).

Phil Figa, Former CBA President (1995-96)


Chuck does a great job of keeping the association focus on the needs of the membership. He is constantly reminding the staff that this is the member’s association. His ability to sort through all the issues and identify the ones that are important to the bar and its future is incredible. His in-depth knowledge of the legal system and the association make him one of the most well respected Executive Directors in the country.

—Greg Martin, CBA/DBA Deputy Executive Director


Chuck’s ability over the years to recognize new demands and new issues, and then to steer the CBA into the future has been his greatest gift to the CBA. Guiding the CBA is no mean task. Its members are a motley assortment of independent and stubborn characters with diverse interests and covering a huge geographical area. At times, the volunteer leadership is overly enthusiastic, with plans to change everything. At other times, the volunteer leadership is adamant that there is no need to change anything. The leadership and the membership of the CBA, however, are rarely neutral about anything. Chuck’s task for over twenty years has been akin to herding elephants and turtles, usually at the same time. Chuck manages, both without stepping on anyone or leaving anyone behind. During my year as president of the CBA, Chuck never said no, although he did raise his eyebrows a few times. Even on those occasions, he would say "have you thought about . . ."—and many times, I had not. So, thank you, Chuck, for keeping me and the CBA out of too much trouble, but also for encouraging us to meet the changing demands of the new eras.

—Frances Koncilja, Former CBA President (1994-95)


When Chuck started at the CBA/DBA, I had been a receptionist here for four years, so I was nervous about working with a new Executive Director. As Chuck’s secretary, we had "our moments" because our work styles are so different, but we somehow managed to survive those early years. As I’ve matured, Chuck has encouraged me to take on more responsibility and has given me countless opportunities to develop my leadership skills. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Chuck and consider myself incredibly fortunate to have him as a mentor.

Dana Collier Smith, CBA/DBA Assistant
Executive Director

I had the privilege of working with Chuck in the 1982-83 time frame when he was as wet behind the ears as I was when it came to bar work, and then again in 1996-97. His innate personal qualities never varied: intelligence, integrity, diligence, judgment, the quest for excellence, and a great sense of humor. But over the years we Colorado lawyers had the privilege of witnessing the growth of a good man into a great man: potential realized, and then some. Onto the solid foundation provided by his parents, wife, and his sons, his education, and his own persona, Chuck grafted the incomparable gifts of experience, maturity, and judgment enhanced therefrom. Today, this wonderful man symbolizes and personifies, more than any other Colorado lawyer, the Colorado and Denver Bars. For that, we can be very proud and grateful. You’ve made us all look better than we really are. Thank you, Chuck.

—Miles Cortez, Former
DBA and CBA President
(1982-83 and 1996-97)


Chuck: On behalf of the CBA (and DBA) and all of its members and staff, congratulations for a job well done!


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