Faye Guertin, ICM Fellows Program Spokesperson 2014


Chief Justice Heavican, President McQueen, Vice President Meeks, Dean Straub, faculty and staff of the National Center for State Courts, family, friends and my Fellow Graduates.  Welcome to all of you and thank you for attending to recognize our great accomplishment today. 

I am honored and truly grateful to be representing the 2014 Fellows Graduating Class. My fellow graduates, please accept a heartfelt thank you from me for this privilege.

WOW!!! What can I say, but, Wow!  43 years ago, Chief Justice Warren Burger had a desire to provide a central resource for state and local courts, with that, he convened the First National Conference of the Judiciary. The foundation was laid for the National Center for State Courts, which provides leadership and education for all courts. Now, look how far we’ve come, the National Center for State Courts, Institute for Court Management has partnerships with several states that have created national programs, where participants can attend six required courses locally, rather than traveling and attending the three-week residential phase in Williamsburg, VA. This allows participants to reduce costs and time away from the job as an alternate means to completing the credentials while pursuing the Fellows Program.  The class of 2014, is the first class to graduate from the Fellows Program with a combination of graduates participating in either the three-week residential phase or completing courses offered locally. The National Center for State Courts deserves a thank you for the forward thinking and all of the coordination that it took to make this dream a reality.

January 23, 2013, the Fellows journey began with our first Webinar. I have to admit I was uncertain how things were going to unfold. Right from the very beginning Dean Straub and Amy McDowell captured our attention and drew us in with ease. I was pleasantly surprised with the level of comfort and active involvement that I felt from everyone right from the beginning. We were all drawn in by focusing on our goal which was to graduate today as the newest Fellows graduates. As much as we would have appreciated life slowing down, even for just a bit, it didn’t. During this time, some of us became parents and grandparents. Some of us were rewarded by receiving promotions.  

The 14 week Distance Learning Phase provided the foundation that we could draw from to understand our Founding Fathers realities when establishing the structure of our judicial system. Our studies surrounded the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, Judiciary Act of 1789 and 1801, Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers and last but not least Roscoe Pound, whom we won’t soon forget. The knowledge that was gained by studying our Founding Fathers was invaluable. Remembering the words of French poet Lamartine, “History teaches everything, including the future”. I look forward to working together with everyone in the future planning of the courts.

The “Williamsburg Experience” will last a lifetime. Ten of us represented seven different states, with various degrees of court experience. For three weeks we were brought together and totally immersed in learning all things revolving around judicial administration. It was the closest thing we had to life stepping aside for a short time. The National Center for State Courts was totally ours and we were made to feel like VIP’s. All of the staff at the National Center for State Courts could not have made us feel more welcome. Then Dean Straub and Amy snapped us back into reality, there was homework to be completed by 8:30 tomorrow morning.

The first week’s focus was to understand the evolution of the court system and the court as an institution. President McQueen’s educational process of examining the separation of powers was captivating. During the second week our attention was drawn to organizational theory, high performance courts and reengineering. This led us into the third week where we reviewed leadership theories and management strategies. We were then given the opportunity to apply everything we learned during the Leadership Practicum exercise. This was our chance to show how the rubber meets the road. The exercise truly applied stressors that mimicked real life situations, on steroids. We were placed in scenarios with very little information, and constantly pulled at a moment’s notice to handle questions from VIP’s, who demanded we have answers immediately. When the exercise was completed, we could breathe a sigh of relief and analyze our reaction to the stressors that were placed before us. Then we took a step back and could laugh at the situations we were placed in with the understanding that decisions are never perfect and imperfection is a fact of life. There’s a quote I once heard, “Life is like a camera, Focus on what’s important, Capture the good times, Develop the negatives, and if things don’t work out, take another shot.”

During the Project Phase we all returned home prepared with our respective “toolboxes” ready to proceed forward with the project at hand. My experience at times, was that my project seemed to develop a life all of its own. I found that managing “project creep” became part of the project as well. I could hear Amy’s words echo, “Faye, keep the scope narrowed, otherwise it will be difficult to manage”. I didn’t understand how true that was until I was overwhelmed with reviewing literature and the vast resources available for multigenerational management.  I took a step back and focused on my research questions so that I wasn’t pulled too far away from my scope of research, so thank you, Amy!

Now, we leave here today with our focus on the future of judicial administration. The importance of governance and leadership is critical for the ability to implement strategic plans. Each of our projects relates to the future of the court system and it’s with excitement that we look forward to the implementation of our projects.  The level of camaraderie that was developed during the Fellows Program ensures that communication among court executives is alive and well.
Our commitment to reinforcing court administration as a profession makes all of us graduates appreciate everything we have learned and gained from the Fellows experience.  I truly feel that the Fellows Program reinforces the Principles for Judicial Administration,  Principle 7:  Court leadership should ensure that the court system has a highly qualified, competent and well-trained workforce. 
In closing, I would like to quote from John F Kennedy, “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”  The National Center for State Courts, ICM Fellows Program, has provided all of us graduates with the skills and knowledge to keep striving forward with purpose and direction. We as Fellows graduates will apply the knowledge that has been gained to continue looking forward as we develop future strategic agendas for our courts. Congratulations, to all of you for his great achievement today.