Message From The HBF Chair
Foundation Builds for the Future
The Houston Bar Foundation (the “HBF”), the charitable arm of the Houston Bar Association (“HBA”), and the source of funding for the Houston Volunteer Lawyers (“HVL”), has had a tremendous year. For the first time, the fund overseen by our wonderful Board Members has gone over the $10 million mark. We can all be very proud of this accomplishment, and the amount we have accumulated should fund pro bono services for a long time to come.
As President of the HBA in 2006-2007, I followed the lead of Charlie Parker who suggested that we diversify our assets in the HBF fund in accordance with modern portfolio theories. Our fund had been built up steadily by the outstanding services of Fayez Sarofim & Co., who took on the HBF fund even when it was too small to meet the company minimums. Fayez had us invested in a very safe, large-cap portfolio, and the HBF would not be where it is today without the help of his company. In an effort to diversify, however, we interviewed various firms and ended up moving our money to UBS Private Wealth Management. Under the able management of Mark Elias at UBS, the fund has grown to its current level of approximately $10.4 million.
When I assumed the Chairmanship of the HBF this year, I decided together with my fellow Board Members to do a review of our management services. In fact, we have now decided to review these services as a matter of course every five years. This decision had nothing whatsoever to do with the job done by UBS as it has been extraordinary. Under the able leadership of our Treasurer, Craig Glidden of Lyondell-Bassell, we reviewed presentations from eight different money managers, including not only our current provider UBS, but also Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, Merrill Lynch, Northern Trust, Segment Wealth Management, LLC, Ascension Capital and Fayez Sarofim & Co. The Board will conclude our review and recommend changes, if any, before the current Board rolls over in February of this year.
In addition to analyzing our money management services, the HBF organized a meeting of all three boards, including the HBF, the HBA and the HVL, in order to discuss the programs and funding needs of the HVL. This joint meeting was well attended and the HBA is currently reviewing the HVL programs to determine their effectiveness and whether to add or drop any such programs. A report will then be sent to the HBF, which will decide the need for any additional funding or any redirection of funding. All of this review is very healthy for all three boards.
In the New Year, the HBA, HBF and HVL will be merging together into a beautiful space in the Old Federal Land Bank Building adjacent to the Heritage Plaza. The building is on the bus line and has entry ways from the street, thereby making it more accessible for all, including the clients of the HVL who will continue to come to our offices for the much-needed pro bono services that the HBF helps to fund.
The annual HBF Luncheon is all set for February 25, 2014 at the Four Seasons Hotel. The name partner of my law firm, Rudy Giuliani, spoke at last year’s luncheon. This year we are privileged to have as our speaker my new partner, Senator Kay Bailey Hutcheson, so please make plans to attend if you can do so.
We renamed the Harvest Party as the Harvest Celebration this year to further emphasize that it is all about pro bono services. We also raised a record amount from this event of almost $620,000. The Equal Access to Justice Program that was started in my year as President of the HBA back in 2006-2007 also grew and expanded in 2013 as more new firms and practitioners signed up as Equal Access to Justice Champions. Finally, we launched a successful drive to increase the number of HBF Fellows by having the Board write letters inviting worthy candidates to join our Fellows group.
Like five people before me, it has been a privilege for me to serve both as HBA President and as Chair of the HBF. I look forward to continuing my bar service for the rest of my career since it has been very fulfilling, as so many of you who participate regularly know.
Glenn Ballard Jr.
Houston Bar Foundation