Bar News - July 19, 2017
NHBA Assistant Executive Director Retires
By: Kristen Senz
Denice DeStefano started working at the NH Bar Association in August 1991, when she was hired as a secretary for the Lawyer Referral Service. It wasn’t long before her organizational skills and experience in event planning landed her a new job as an assistant in the association’s executive department.
After former association executive director Ellen Barial left the Bar in 1993, there was a nationwide search for a new leader, resulting in the selection of current Executive Director Jeannine McCoy, who also worked in the executive department at the time. McCoy and DeStefano, who ultimately became assistant executive director, have worked closely together as association executives ever since, despite their vastly different leadership styles.
“She’s always told me I was very intimidating, so she and I didn’t always get along,” DeStefano recalls. “It got better over the years. I owe a lot of where I am today to her and her faith in me.”
McCoy is sad to see DeStefano, who retired from her full-time position as of July 1, leave the association.
“I am lucky to have called Denice a colleague, consultant and friend,” McCoy said. “Our approaches are different; we have learned a lot from each other…and I am still trying to be more like her! The Association is a better organization because of her work, and the people involved are better for working with her.”
Having witnessed the evolution of New Hampshire law practice over more than two decades, DeStefano, who served as liaison to the NHBA Dispute Resolution Committee and Committee on Cooperation with the Courts, has seen attitudes of lawyers and toward lawyers change. But, she says, one thing seems to stay the same: “People like their own lawyers,” even if they say they don’t like lawyers as a rule.
Jennifer Parent, former NHBA president and current chair of the NHBA Committee on Cooperation with the Courts, says she has enjoyed working with DeStefano over the past several years.
“Denice is a treasure who will be missed at the NHBA,” said Parent, a partner at McLane Middleton. “When Denice is planning an event, you know all the t’s are crossed and the i’s dotted. Whatever the task, Denice gives 100 percent. In my years of working with Denice, I have found her to be hardworking, attentive to details, and fun to work with.”
Among DeStefano’s many projects and accomplishments at the NHBA, she considers the relocation from the association’s former leased office space on Pleasant Street in Concord to the Bar Center at 2 Pillsbury St., which the organization owns, to be one of the most significant. Coordinating the lease (with a purchase option) of the condominium suite and the move, in collaboration with other staff and board members, was a major effort that spanned about four years.
In addition to her administrative oversight of staff and operations, DeStefano has served in a human resources capacity at the association, assisting staff members with benefits and other workplace issues. She also has orchestrated many annual and mid-year membership meetings and developed agreements with NHBA’s affinity partners.
Although she is leaving the NHBA staff, DeStefano isn’t wrapping up her professional life. She plans to work with her husband Alan at Granite Group Realty, the Lakes Region real estate company the couple owns. She also plans to travel and spend more time with her son, daughter, and two grandchildren. But she says she’ll miss the challenge of bar association work.
“Everybody knows I like a challenge, and it’s challenging to never know what the day is going to bring, and that’s what it has been like here for more than 25 years,” she said.