Congratulations, Bonnie!

In the fall of 1987, then BBA President Gene Dahmen walked out the doors of the BBA’s 16 Beacon Street headquarters with a recent meeting with the Boston Globe fresh on her mind. The BBA had asked the Globe for its advice on creating a more consistent public relations effort, and the Globe’s suggestion was to hire a full time, committed Public Relations and Communications professional. As fate would have it, Gene bumped into an old friend who was headed back to work at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Quality Engineering (now known as the DEP) after her lunch break. Gene’s friend was a trusted source she had known for many years, beginning at the daycare where they took their four-year old daughters. Hoping her friend could help her with the problem that was weighing on her, Gene asked:

“Do you know anyone who would be good for this job?”

“Gene, it’s funny you should ask. It just so happens I do,” replied Bonnie Sashin. “Me”

Bonnie started working at the Boston Bar not long after, on January 4 of 1988.

“Bonnie’s hire brought about a sea change in the way the BBA was seen in the community -- the first time I remember my presidency getting good press attention was because of Bonnie,” Gene told BBA Week. “There is not a single BBA President that who can say their presidency wasn’t enhanced by Bonnie.”

 

BBA Week was given the impossible task to try and fit all the highlights of Bonnie Sashin’s 25 year career as the BBA’s Director of Communications. So, rather than speaking for others about Bonnie, we are going to let them speak for themselves.

Here is what they had to say:

 

J.D. Smeallie – Holland & Knight and BBA President
Bonnie is the face of the BBA to all our local media outlets. In the first couple of months of my term as President, editors and chief legal reporters at the Boston Globe, Boston Business Journal and Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly gladly made time to meet with me, all because Bonnie asked them to do so.  At those meetings, she artfully moved the conversation to matters of importance to the BBA if I happened to let conversation wander.  It was very apparent that these journalists all harbor tremendous respect for Bonnie and the work she does for the BBA.

All of us who have been lucky enough to serve as the BBA President know how well prepared we are for every speaking engagement.  Along with other staffers, Bonnie provides detailed bullet points for whatever topic we may be addressing.  If we stay on script, it is hard not to shine.

 

Lisa Goodheart – Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen and immediate Past President
One of Bonnie's special talents is her ability to prepare each BBA president to speak for the Association on a wide variety of subjects and in a range of contexts. I learned early on that if I listened to Bonnie, I would know everything I needed to know. At one point last year, I was asked to appear on short notice on Dan Rea's nighttime radio program to discuss the BBA's letter to President Obama about the National Defense Authorization Act. It was a topic that was new to me and a completely unfamiliar experience, but Bonnie got me through it and somehow made it seem easy and fun. She was literally by my side throughout that interview and many others, and I knew that I could always count on her not only to remind me of the substantive themes to be emphasized but also to quietly tell me if I had lipstick on my teeth or if there was something I should know about my interviewer. Bonnie guided me expertly through many media encounters, with her lightning-quick ability to produce talking points and her encyclopedic knowledge of BBA history and the Boston media world. She is a great asset to the BBA and I feel lucky to have had the chance to work with her closely and benefit from her skill and experience.

 

Hon. Margaret Marshall – Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court (ret.) and BBA Past President
Ned Hines -- a great President of the BBA -- was a fountain of excellent advice when I became President in 1991. His best advice? “Get to know Bonnie Sashin; put yourself in her hands. She is a marvel.” I followed Ned’s advice, and the rest is history. Bonnie cares passionately about the BBA and its mission, and much of the success of the BBA over the past decades can be traced to her. She seeks out every opportunity to promote the BBA, and its individual leaders, with insight and focus, and always with an eye on substance. There is nothing frivolous or shallow about Bonnie, who has a sharp instinct for frauds and self-promoters. She is warm, welcoming of all…and eager to have everyone’s picture on the BBA website. Don’t be fooled by the St. John suits and the Ferragamo shoes: a millennium heart beats inside her classic look, willing to embrace Facebook and Twitter and every other new form of social media to make sure that the BBA is always on the cutting edge. Does this paragon have an Achilles heel? Ask her about grandson Jack and she will melt in front of you. And she’ll whip out her latest iPhone and show you all 492 pictures of Jack from his last visit with grandma. I cannot imagine the BBA without Bonnie: she is part of the bricks and mortar of the place. She always will be, a revered part of a great organization.

 

Hon. Sandra L. Lynch - Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and BBA Past President
When I think of Bonnie I think of three P’s, Professionalism, Preparation and Perceptiveness.

I was always a press neophyte, and Bonnie helping me out of my shell was one of the ways she was most helpful to me professionally. I specifically recall one instance of Bonnie taking me aside to explain to me that as BBA President, it was my obligation to get myself in photos of events when a BBA presence was important. She taught me the importance of leaders of the bar having the public perception that they are representing the bar on important matters.

Press and media people are always very persistent, and the BBA had to be persistent with them in getting the message we thought was important out there. Bonnie excelled at that.
Bonnie understood the media in a way that most lawyers and bar presidents did not. She would give great advice on how to deal with the media. On top of the three P’s, Bonnie also happens to be a lovely person.

 

Christine Netski - Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen and past Chair of the Boston Bar Journal Board of Editors
I had the great pleasure of working closely with Bonnie on the BBJ Board of Editors and was so impressed by her ability to juggle all of the ingredients that go into producing a high-quality publication.  Bonnie is not only a fantastic writer and editor, but she approaches her work with incredible energy, unbelievable organization and great judgment.  Bonnie just knows how to get things done – on time, on budget and always with a smile.

 

Joan A. Lukey - Ropes & Gray and BBA Past President
Bonnie is truly in a league of her own.  Operating, as she does, in the media/PR world, she knew the intricacies of Twitter and Facebook well ahead of the curve.  At the same time, she has a complete awareness of the nuances of dealing with good old-fashioned reporting and reporters.  She bridges technology and the generation gap as no one else does.

 

Joel Reck, Ret. Partner, Brown Rudnick and BBA Past President
To know and to work with Bonnie is to love her.  Her commitment to serving the BBA and its members in the many aspects of its work is extraordinary in so many ways.  She genuinely loves the BBA and its multi- faceted mission. A true professional, Bonnie exuded integrity, passion for her work and real caring about others.

Not surprisingly, I worked most closely with Bonnie during my term as President of the BBA.  Bonnie helped me and was there to support me in so many ways.  But what comes to my mind first is how Bonnie helped me with the President's Page, which was daunting for me to anticipate producing every month.  Bonnie assured me, and she was true to her word, that all I needed to do was to select a topic and write a draft of it.  She would then edit it and polish it and make me look good.  In fact, whether it was drafting speeches or quotes for press releases, Bonnie repeatedly spoiled me with her  flawless work, always delivered with her exceptional competence, enthusiasm and graciousness.  The relationships of mutual respect and trust that she built over the years with so many reporters and organizations enabled her to communicate the BBA's positions to the right audiences and at the right times.  Her work was never done in a self-aggrandizing way.  Quite the contrary--but there was no mistaking the pro-active and critically important role that Bonnie was playing.

 

Frank Moran – Former Executive Director, Boston Bar Association
Bonnie was, indeed,  the consummate Communications Director, always knowing the right “spin”, what to say, when and how to say it and to whom.  Her enormous success was due in no small measure to the personal relationships she developed with the members of the public media.  She also knew the community and its governance and what issues were important. In the mid-1990’s, the BBA was one of the first bar associations to develop a web site and sophisticated electronic communications with its members, which became one of its most valued membership resources.  Bonnie Sashin was at the forefront of developing the standards (“fresh and crisp information,” she would demand) and the infrastructure among our sections and committees to create the information flow.  Information quality and relevance were her guiding principles throughout.  One of our fun projects together was to “conspire” to take the Boston Bar Journal from a somewhat “musty law review” to a periodical highly relevant to law practice that it is today.

Bonnie’s communication skills have served the BBA so very well.  She is an expert in her field, delivering presentations on a national level.  Her greatest contribution, however, transcends her reputation as a communications maven.  Her greatest value has been as a team player at the BBA providing thoughtful counsel and guidance to staff and leadership! 

 

Paul Lannon, Holland & Knight and current Chair of the Boston Bar Journal Board of Editors
It’s hard to imagine publishing the BBJ without Bonnie.  In many ways, she IS the BBJ – its history, its energy, its driving force.  She’s the one behind the curtain magically making everything work.  Bonnie knows how to get the job done but with style and humor.  She brings enthusiasm and professionalism to everything she does.  If we were the Red Sox, we’d retire her number.  If we were the Celtics, her jersey would be hanging from the rafters. Congratulations on her 25 year anniversary.

 

BBA Staff would like to send a “retweet” from Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer at Columbia University and Professor at Columbia Journalism School that captures exactly how we feel about Bonnie’s 25 years at the BBA:

From @Sree : Here's to another 25 years of @BSashin at @BostonBar! #BBAisLuckyToHaveHer