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The official blog of the NALS Board of Directors, used as a timely resource for sharing information directly with NALS members.


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Donna K. Dendy, PP, PLS, TSC-RE named NALS Volunteer of the Year

Posted By Justin Fromke, 6 hours ago
Updated: Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Today is the 4th annual NALS Leadership Appreciation Day. It is also NALS’s anniversary and time to recognize all current leadership and volunteers that make NALS a success. 

It takes the contributions of over 150 volunteers' time, talent, and expertise in this tri-level association to fulfill the NALS mission. It is through volunteers that NALS can provide its members with so many benefits: the essential education and tools for a successful legal career, a vibrant online community, and the exceptional experiences and relationships that we all value so highly. 
The NALS Board of Directors and the NALS Staff have chosen a Volunteer of the Year from our national pool of leaders and volunteers. The NALS Volunteer of the Year honor exemplifies the highest standards of character, dependability, and leadership.


The 2020 NALS Volunteer of the Year is Donna Dendy, PP, PLS, TSC-RE, from Waco, Texas.


Donna Dendy, PP, PLS, TSC-RE, is a Paralegal at Pakis, Giotes, Page & Burleson, P.C. in Waco, Texas. She specializes in Estate Planning, Elder Law, Probate, and Real Estate. Donna grew her career from Legal Secretary to Legal Assistant/Office Manager/Bookkeeper to Executive/Legal Secretary to Assistant President/Legal Counsel to Legal Assistant – Litigation to Paralegal in Real Estate, Oil & Gas to where she is now.


Carlie C. Gause, Esq. of Pakis, Giotes, Page & Burleson, P.C. says, “Donna’s area of law primarily focuses on Estate Planning and Probate. These areas of the law require not only a dedicated and thorough person, but also one with empathy and compassion. Donna personifies these qualities. She is also one of the most giving people I have ever met. She is consistently giving her time, knowledge, compassion, and friendship to all those in need. She gives of herself professionally, personally, and in the community. In our office, all of the attorneys go to Donna not just for legal work, but personal advice.”


Attorney Gause continues, “Donna is an outstanding legal professional, mentor, and person. She has raised many baby lawyers in her tenure in the legal field. Every attorney she has worked with, including myself, has said on more than one occasion that they ‘cannot function without her.’ Being in the legal field is often more about counsel than it is about the law. While Donna shines in both areas, with a depth of legal knowledge and understanding, she goes above and beyond in her ability to counsel.”


Donna is a mentor. What started as a vision to grow as a person and as a legal professional became the opportunity to mentor others on the job and throughout NALS. It is because of what NALS has given Donna that sparked her to grow this vision into giving back and helping others pursue their legal careers.

Donna has been a NALS member for a long time. The reason she joined NALS was because of the opportunity to network with others in the legal field and to learn and improve her skills as a legal professional.  She says that what she has gained from NALS includes the ability to prepare presentations and speak in public, improve her legal professional skills, and have friends throughout the nation. 


Donna has volunteered to serve on almost every committee there is – local, state, and national –some several times. Sometimes she was the Chair of these committees. In her local chapter, Waco Legal Professionals Association, she served as President (several times) and focused her committee service on Education, Certification, and Director. She is Director again this year. 


Waco Legal Professionals Association’s motto is “Professionalism plus education equals excellence.”  From her commitment to the local and state chapters to national NALS, this could be Donna’s motto too.  She worked hard to be certified by NALS and has earned NALS’ Certified Professional Legal Secretary (PLS) and Professional Paralegal (PP) certification.  Along the way, Donna has served individual members of NALS to help them become certified too.


For her state chapter, Texas Association of Legal Professionals, Donna is a Past President and served on several committees, including Strategic Planning, Bylaws/Standing Rules, and Certification. She was also honored as the Texas Legal Secretary of the Year in 1986 and is currently the chapter’s Meetings Coordinator. Andrea D. Griffin, PP, PLS, 2019-2020 President of Texas ALP, says, “Donna is an inspiration and mentor to everyone who meets her. Over this past year, Donna was my rock through my year as Texas ALP President as we ventured through new areas. We all learned together on handling the changes we had never thought possible. No matter the challenge, Donna spread positivity and encouragement to us all. All three levels of our association are incredibly blessed to have someone as special as Donna, not just as a member but as a friend.”


For NALS as a national organization, she is a Past President (1996-1997), NALS Officer (1991-1997), Certifying Board Chair (twice) and is currently the Chair of the Certifying Board, where she has served as a member numerous times. Donna is also a current member of the Leadership Identification Committee.


Further, Donna has developed several projects for NALS. She was asked to serve on the NALS Certifying Board Task Force in 1990 to develop the first Accredited Legal Secretary exam (ALS now the ALP). She was in Anaheim, CA, in 1992 when the first ALS exam was given, and participated in presenting those in attendance with their new ALS pins. Donna describes this experience as “certainly a highlight in volunteering.” In the early 2000s, Donna was asked to serve with four other members on the NALS Certifying Board Task Force to develop the first Professional Paralegal (PP) exam. She has felt such satisfaction to see those who have sat and passed the PP exam and said, “Now I have the opportunity as Chair of the NALS Certifying Board to continue improving, developing, and moving the certification exams and program to the future.”


Donna reports that “I have been fortunate, as my husband promoted in his career, to be a member of four local NALS chapters. In each chapter, certain members prodded and encouraged me to be certified and to run for leadership positions in my local, state, and national associations. Beth Walker, Amarillo LSA, pushed me to grow personally and professionally and to run for national office. This tri-level association has given so much to me – how could I not give back!”


Donna’s family also represents the law; her husband Kirby is a Retired Chief of the Texas Rangers. Their daughter, Andrea DeLaCruz, is married to Simon DeLaCruz, Texas State Trooper, and has three fabulous children, Caleb, Alyssa, and Ashton. Their son, Travis Dendy, is a Texas Ranger married to Amy Dendy, a nursing supervisor, with two great children, Kayden and Regan. Even with a big family, Donna finds time to spend with her children and grandchildren, serve her church, read, and volunteer for NALS and her community.


“I see fewer and fewer people giving of their time to volunteer than in years past. I love volunteering for many reasons: helping others; mentoring others, encouraging others, and feeling like I am contributing to society, my church, and my professional associations. When you volunteer, especially with other people, you build friendships and a satisfaction of a job well done to help others.”


Attorney Carlie C. Gause says, “Donna is the kind of person that we all want to emulate. She is not only outstanding professionally, but also personally. She is always available to lend an ear or a hand and is constantly doing things for others. I could write much more on the subject of how important Donna Dendy is in my life and the lives of all who know her, but I will end with this: while many attorneys have good people they work with, I am thankful every day that I have Donna.”


Tags:  NALS  NALS Leadership  Volunteering 

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News from the Board: Updated NALS Bylaws

Posted By Justin Fromke, Thursday, June 25, 2020
The NALS National Board, in collaboration with the Governance Task Force, present the following Bylaw amendments. To access the Bylaws as they stand before the amendments, follow this link: https://www.nals.org/global_engine/download.aspx?fileid=7FE37030-35FA-4E81-8062-65804E92FEB5&ext=pdf

The NALS Bylaws allow the National Board to make administrative changes, while requiring member approval of changes that impact member rights and privileges (see Article VI, Section 6 for details). See page two of the updated Bylaw document (attached to this blog post) to review the Bylaws revisions the National Board has approved.

Several Bylaws are presented to the membership for consideration. See page four of the updated Bylaws document (attached to post) to review the proposed amendments. Eligible voting members (Individual, Life, and Retired members in good standing) will be asked to vote via online ballot to be distributed on July 20, 2020.

*Update (June 10, 2020) - Based on member feedback, the NALS Board and Governance Task force made the following updates to the proposed amendments:

Article VII, Section 1.B. (found on page three of the amendments announcement attached to this post): To allow our association to be nimble in changing times, this amendment changes the notice of proposals from 45 days to 15 days.

Article VII, Section 4 (found on page five of the amendments announcement): The treasurer position is added to be in line with Section 3.

To review all of the proposed amendments, please open the document attached to this blog post.

Download File (PDF)

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2020 Board Retreat: Energized, Educated, and Focused on the Future

Posted By Rachel Daeger, Tuesday, April 14, 2020
Updated: Thursday, April 9, 2020

The Board had planned to travel to Marion, Arkansas, just outside of Memphis, Tennessee, for this year’s retreat. When it became clear that it was no longer safe to travel, we were able to quickly pivot and turn the retreat into a virtual meeting. We were able to spend three days completely focusing on NALS. We are very much looking forward to returning to the business of steering this association into the future.


The Board began the retreat with a review of the DISC personality assessment we all participated in in the weeks leading up to the retreat. Our conversations were focused on communication and teamwork, board and staff responsibilities, and decisionmaking, all considering what we learned from each other’s DISC assessment report. Understanding each other’s motivators and stressors allows us to communicate and freely exchange ideas in a way that the information will be well received. The Board made a commitment to create a healthy board culture, engage in productive discussions, and build consensus. We also discussed dealing with difficult people, making difficult decisions objectively, and methods of preventing a board (or board members) from going rogue. Our executive staff acknowledged that although establishing a positive and sustainable culture does not happen overnight, the key to getting started is to have a conversation to get a sense of where you are and where you would like to ultimately be.



Additionally, we received education on the fundamentals of nonprofit board service, the legal duties of a board, and our fiduciary responsibilities. Understanding our duties and responsibilities as Board members, we reached agreement of the multiple roles of the board, staff, and the many members who volunteer their time to make this association a success. One of the great visuals we used during this section of the retreat is one adapted from Mark Thorsby of FrontWheel Consulting, which uses a bicycle to depict our association. The Front Wheel is the Board, responsible for providing direction, strategic thinking, driving the mission, being visionary, setting goals, and fundraising. The Frame of the organization is our executive staff, responsible for providing structure, receiving all input from the front and back wheels, and driving initiatives. The Back Wheel are the other staff members and our volunteers, responsible for propelling work, tactical execution of operations, plans, budgets, implementation, and evaluation.



The remainder of the retreat was spent discussing where NALS is headed, committees and volunteers, certification, and membership. The Board is energized and really excited about the future. Please take a moment to review the outline notes we posted on our website from the retreat.



Our next meeting will be April 25, 2020. We plan to discuss and adopt a budget as well as review the proposed amendments to NALS’ bylaws we received from the Governance Task Force on April 2, 2020.


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Tags:  Board  strategic planning 

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Congratulations to New NALS Board

Posted By Rachel Daeger, Monday, March 23, 2020
NALS…the association for legal professionals announces the 2020-2021 Board of Directors took office in March.
Serving for the next year are:
  • President Nakia Bradley-Lawson, Director of Operations and Facilities at Gevurtz, Menashe, P.C. in Portland, OR
  • Secretary Barry Pickreign, CLP, ALP, Deputy Clerk in the Harrison County Circuit Clerk’s Office in Gulfport, MS
  • Treasurer Darlene Howard Holt, PP-SC, Paralegal at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in Alexandria, VA
  • Director Laleise Curtiss, Paralegal at Cummings, McClorey, Davis & Acho, Livonia, MI
  • Director Julie A. Abernathy, Emeritus PP, PLS, retired after 45 years in the legal field, Waco, TX

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Please join us on Saturday, March 14 for a NALS membership meeting

Posted By Rachel Daeger, Wednesday, March 11, 2020

NALS Board & Online Membership Meeting
This Saturday - March 14, 2020 at 12:00 pm CT
All members are invited to this important online meeting. Meet the 2020-2021 NALS Board and the new staff team plus get updates on various initiatives impacting the association. 

1. Introduction of the NALS Board
2. Introduction of staff team
3. NALS in 2020
4. Report on first 60 days of 2020
5. Update on rebate payments
6. NALS Board Minutes and Financial Statements
7. 2020 Annual Education and Networking Conference
8. Next 60 days
9. Q&A

Click to register for this Zoom meeting - https://www.nals.org/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1327516&group=
If you are unable to attend live the meeting will be recorded and all material online at https://www.nals.org/page/NALSBoardMinutes.

Tags:  board  meeting  membership 

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