Message From The Chair
Message From The HBF Chair
A message from the 2018 Houston Bar Foundation Chair
This past bar year for the Houston Bar Foundation culminated in a wonderful event in February, where we recognized all that we have to be thankful for and all we have to look forward to in the Foundation’s future. First and foremost, we gratefully celebrated the extraordinary career of service of our Executive Director Kay Sim, on the occasion of her retirement. Jim Sales, who hired Kay more than four decades ago, shared with us his memories of Kay’s lifetime of service to the bar and our community. In particular, he recognized Kay’s work in ensuring legal services are available for veterans, creating educational programs for youth, and helping the less fortunate in our community improve their lives. It is not possible to overstate the importance of Kay’s dedication to Houston in developing the strong position of our Foundation and the central role of our bar in this community. Kay will be deeply missed and always remembered as the person who built bar organizations that are a model followed around the country.
I was proud to announce at the luncheon that we will be honoring Kay (with her grudging permission, since she likes to stay out of the limelight), by putting her name on a critical effort that we are undertaking. We are starting the Kay Sim Endowment: Maintaining Access to Justice in Houston. The genesis of this effort was a desire among the board members of the Houston Bar Foundation to raise sufficient funds so that the existing endowment would generate enough in annual revenue to fund the HBF’s estimated annual contribution to the outstanding work of our Houston Volunteer Lawyers. The investment firm of Goldman Sachs advised us that this would require about $2.5 million. This is an ambitious goal for the campaign, but we believe it is attainable.
Although she is retiring, Kay has generously agreed to help us with these efforts. Though I will no longer be Chair of the Foundation, I also plan to continue to work hard. We believe our goal is attainable because of the generosity of this legal community and its leaders. In the next few months, we will be rolling out the details of our campaign. I ask that you please be receptive if someone calls on you. Only with your help can we realize the vision of the founders of the Houston Bar Foundation to permanently protect legal services for the poor in our community.
At the Foundation luncheon, we also heard from Whitney Mercilus, the outstanding linebacker for the Houston Texans. Mr. Mercilus told us about his wonderful efforts through the WithMerci Foundation to help kids with disabilities and their families. Mr. Mercilus was deservingly nominated for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for his efforts. We awarded the James B. Sales Pro Bono Leadership Award to Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, who has been a tireless supporter of funding for pro bono legal services. Those funds are scarcer than ever, and the support of prominent leaders like Justice Guzman is critical. We also recognized a number of other deserving award winners this year who made vital contributions to pro bono efforts and to the bar’s publication, The Houston Lawyer. I urge you to read about these important accomplishments here.
Finally, I want to thank the HBF Board and staff for an extraordinary year for the Foundation. This was a working board that actively supported our efforts at every turn. The Foundation will move forward with confidence and energy under the leadership of my successor, Travis Torrence. The organization could not be in better hands, and I look forward to continuing to work with Travis. Thanks to all of you for your continuing support of the Foundation and its future.
Houston Bar Foundation