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President's Column
November-December 2009

A big thank-you

Barry Macha

Criminal District Attorney in Wichita County

Thank you, members of TDCAA, for the honor and privilege of serving as your president. It has been a truly rewarding experience that I shall always treasure. As I come to the end of my term in office, there are a few reflections I would like to share with you.

First and foremost, I owe each of you my everlasting gratitude for your membership and helpful cooperation and readiness to respond to any call to service. You are the lifeblood of our association. Our continued success depends upon your participation.

No president ever had better officers, directors, and committee chairs with whom to serve. Their cooperation and dedication are deeply appreciated. The committee structure and the contribution of the committees are the backbone of TDCAA. Committee members have attended numerous meetings throughout the year, frequently traveling great distances and at considerable sacrifice. These unsung heroes carry out the work of our association in an unselfish manner for not only the benefit of our members, but also for the public and the administration of justice. My special thanks to those who served as chairs of our various committees for a job well done and to everyone who taught at one of our seminars or wrote an article for this journal or  a book published by TDCAA.

The association staff is devoted to their work, and they possess a deep sense of pride in the association’s accomplishments. To them goes a vast amount of the credit for making our association tick. I am especially grateful for their loyalty and assistance beyond the call of duty. Longtime Administrative Assistant Gail Ferguson is a great example of that, and she has helped countless numbers of folks over the years locate the people or information they needed. So, too, are Tammy Hall, Financial Officer, and Dayatra Rogers, Assistant Database Manager, valuable in their respective fields. They keep TDCAA running like a well-oiled machine.

Senior Staff Counsel Diane Beckham and Communications Director Sarah Wolf deserve special mention because of the outstanding quality of the publications they produce for our association. Since coming to work for TDCAA in 1996, Diane’s tireless efforts as editor of publications such as Annotated Criminal Laws of Texas continue to be nothing short of spectacular. Likewise, Sarah has done an extraordinary job as editor of our bimonthly journal, The Texas Prosecutor. And Sarah is to be commended for the excellent staff support she provides for our Texas District and County Attorneys Foundation (TDCAF).

Speaking of our foundation, I want to commend TDCAF Development Director Jennifer Vitera for the great job she is doing. She is working very hard to ensure the foundation’s continued success and commitment to educating and training Texas prosecutors and law enforcement. But Jennifer can’t do it alone, and she needs all of us to step up and get involved in the foundation.

I truly believe that TDCAA provides the best training around. Many thanks to Training Director Erik Nielsen for making that happen. Thanks also to our resident road warrior, DWI Resource Prosecutor Clay Abbott, who travels around the state providing quality training. Meeting Planners Manda Helmick and Ashlee Myers deserve applause for the great jobs they do in making arrangements and coordinating our conferences.

Director of Operations William Calem is a welcome addition to the TDCAA staff as he takes over for John Brown. William is a great hire and comes to us from the Court of Criminal Appeals where he served as the grant program administrator. Also new on board is Seth Howards, Research Attorney, who answers legal questions for those who call and writes the weekly case summaries.

I wish to acknowledge and thank, for his special efforts, Staff Attorney Shannon Edmonds. His organizational skills are second to none. He is a terrific asset to our association and a valuable resource. His legislative updates are the best anywhere.

Finally, it has been my good fortune to have worked closely this past year with Executive Director Rob Kepple. We are indeed fortunate to have an executive director of Rob’s caliber. His value to our association cannot be overstated. I am proud to know and to be associated with a true professional like Rob; more importantly, I’m very grateful to call him my friend. Thank you, Rob.

I want to extend my best wishes to Scott Brumley as he begins his tenure as TDCAA president. I also want to thank Bill Turner, our outgoing chairman of the board, for his outstanding leadership and service to TDCAA for many years.

Thank you again for the wonderful opportunity to serve as your president. It has been fun. I look forward to seeing each of you soon.