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Six months after the abrupt departure of former Executive Director Keenan Casady, the California Judges Association has hired a new leader. Stanley Bissey, assistant executive director of the San Francisco Medical Society since October 2000, takes over as executive director on Sept. 15 in what he and CJA President Gregory O’Brien Jr. call a good fit. Bissey, 39, of San Francisco, has experience with legal organizations, having served as membership director for the National Employment Lawyers Association and as membership publications and communications coordinator with the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association. “I’ve been looking for an executive director position for quite some time,” Bissey said Tuesday. “I’ve been building my skills over the past 10 years with the goal of having, as I call it, the big chair. “I’m an association professional,” he said, “and believe in the power of associations.” The voluntary association advocates for state judges on pay and policy issues in Sacramento and also provides members with services such as an ethics hotline. Bissey will be CJA’s third executive director in a little more than a year. Longtime Executive Director Constance Dove retired last year and was replaced by Casady, who left in February after only seven months on the job. No explanation was ever provided for his departure. O’Brien, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge, said Bissey was chosen from among dozens of applicants. “The board found him to be highly intelligent, creative,” O’Brien said. “He had good ideas and good people skills and the right background for the CJA executive director position.” Bissey, a graduate of Idaho State University, will be paid $125,000 annually. Bissey already has ideas that have intrigued board members. For one, he said, he wants to figure out ways to have the Oakland-based organization rely less on membership dues for revenue. He’s talking about looking into the association getting royalty checks from overnight packaging companies in exchange for being granted preferred status by the CJA, increasing advertising in association publications, and upping the number of vendors at the group’s annual meetings. “Any association that continues to rely solely on membership dues to operate is doomed to failure,” Bissey said. He also said he would like to conduct a membership survey. “I’d like to know who our members are and what they expect from the association,” he said. “Their expectations may be considerably different than a generation ago or even five years ago.” Bissey said he will first turn his attention to the association’s annual meeting — being held Oct. 31-Nov. 2 at the San Francisco Hyatt. At that conference, O’Brien said, new officers will be sworn in, including incoming President Eric Taylor, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge. O’Brien said Taylor will be the third black president in CJA history.

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