Of Interest

Michigan State Bar Foundation celebrates diamond anniversary


Michigan Bar Journal


The Michigan State Bar Foundation (MSBF) marked its 75th anniversary on Sept. 15 with a reception at the Detroit Athletic Club that brought together the foundation’s fellows, board of directors, legal aid professionals, supporters, MSBF staff, and members of the legal community.

Speakers at the event included Ed Pappas, MSBF board president from 2018-2022; Hon. Victoria Roberts, chair of the MSBF Fellows program; former Supreme Court Chief Justice Marilyn Kelly; and MSBF Executive Director Jennifer Bentley. In his opening remarks, Pappas welcomed guests and thanked them for attending the foundation's first in-person event following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pappas also announced his retirement from the MSBF board after a nine-year tenure, though he will continue to be a fellows officer and participate on the Access to Justice Campaign steering committee. He introduced incoming officers for 2022-2023: Craig Lubben, Julie Fershtman, Richard Rappleye, and Ronda Tate Truvillion.

Roberts told the gathering that supporting legal aid was “a priceless undertaking” and emphasized the responsibility lawyers have to help Michigan’s low-income residents. She also shared ways the legal community can support civil legal aid efforts through programs like the Banking on Justice and Access to Justice campaigns. Roberts introduced the new MSBF fellows for 2022, who were nominated and accepted for their professional excellence and dedication to serving their communities, and thanked Pappas for his leadership.

Kelly described the history of the founding of Michigan Legal Help 25 years ago and the leadership of former MSBF Director Linda Rexer. She called Michigan Legal Help “a spectacular resource” and a “game changer,” discussed the program’s impact on self-represented litigants, and reiterated her confidence in the foundation and its future efforts.

Among the guests were Norman Otto Stockmeyer, one of the founders of MSBF Fellows program, and former Detroit mayor and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Dennis Archer. The outgoing and incoming State Bar of Michigan presidents, Dana Warnez and James Heath, were on hand. The event also featured music from the Detroit Cass Technical High School Jazz Band.

The Michigan State Bar Foundation plans to continue its mission to provide leadership, education, and partnership to improve access to justice for all and extends its gratitude to all who attended its anniversary celebration. To learn more about the foundation’s work, visit www.msbf.org or read the organization’s 75th anniversary special report at www.msbf.org/msbf-75-special-edition/.