Change of Direction: OCBA director to chart a new course in her life


 A hands-on leader at the OCBA, Lisa Stadig Elliot has enjoyed the opportunity to roll up her sleeves for a variety of good causes, including shipping food and personal necessities to American service personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. She is pictured with attorney Mike Schloff, a Vietnam veteran and a past president of the OCBA.

Photo by Robert Chase
By Tom Kirvan
Legal News
Efficient. Dedicated. Engaging. Skillful. Personable. Diplomatic.

Some would even say irreplaceable.

In a nutshell, that’s Lisa Stadig Elliot, the executive director of the Oakland County Bar Association who announced earlier this month that she will be retiring from the OCBA in January to spend more time with her young family.

The decision brings an end to her 13-year tenure as head of the OCBA, the largest county bar association in Michigan. She came to the OCBA in November 2000 after serving as director of development for Spectrum Human Services, quickly impressing those in the Oakland County legal community.

“She takes a huge job and makes it look easy,” says Mike Sullivan, a past president of the OCBA and an attorney with Collins Einhorn in Southfield.  “She certainly made my year as prez a breeze, and I know that those who preceded me and followed me feel the same.

“Lisa just has a great way with people,” he adds. “She has to juggle the egos and needs of a bunch of lawyers, foster a great relationship with the bench, and nurture and mentor a staff, and she does it all with grace. She will be missed. But in true Lisa fashion, she wants to help us find just the right person to lead this great organization, and will no doubt help to mentor and train whoever is selected.”

A native of New England, Stadig Elliot and her husband, Marc, have two elementary school age daughters, Elise and Alexandra. The opportunity to play an increasing role in their young lives was the “tipping point” in Stadig Elliot’s decision to retire.

“I love being a mom and I want to enjoy the chance to be as involved as possible with my kids,” says Stadig Elliot, who has been brewing on the decision to retire for the past 18 months. “It has been a very difficult decision because the bar association has become an extension of my family and I treasure the friendships that I’ve made here. Everyone here is family to me.”

Stadig Elliot earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and international studies from the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. in 1991. She then set her sights on earning a master’s degree at the renowned Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan. In retirement, Stadig Elliot says she may return to the U-M to pursue a master’s degree in public administration, fulfilling a longtime desire to return to the academic world.
One of two daughters, Stadig Elliot grew up in an old farmhouse in Connecticut, where her father, Robert, a Navy veteran, worked for a company that would become part of AT&T. Her mother, Bonnie, was employed by the Department of Motor Vehicles for the state of Connecticut before retiring. Stadig Elliot’s parents now live in Maine where they are enjoying their retirement years.

The demands of her job – including the regular slate of meetings, programs, and after-hours events – has been particularly taxing at times, but Stadig Elliot says a “top-notch staff and a dedicated and talented board” has helped keep “my life on an even keel.” She also credits her husband for “doing a lot of the heavy lifting” in terms of caring for their children when work responsibilities called.

Patrick McCauley, a past president of the Oakland County Bar Foundation, is among those who have extolled the virtues of the retiring OCBA leader.

“Lisa has never simply been satisfied with the status quo for either the Bar Association or the Bar Foundation,” says McCauley, an attorney with Gasiorek Morgan in Farmington Hills. “She is constantly promoting both organizations and because of her enthusiasm and energy, she has been successfully able to multi-task on the numerous projects that both organizations present to her and which need her steady guiding hand.  

“She’s fun loving, but professional; balanced yet willing to take risks; inspired but thoughtful; savvy yet humble; decisive yet open to new ideas; and overwhelmingly dedicated to both her family and the work of the Bar Association and the Bar Foundation,” McCauley says. “She has effectively worked through the entire tenure of her executive director position tirelessly and has found a way to gracefully deal with the many varied personalities of the lawyers with whom she works.  While lawyers can be an intimidating bunch, she has presented her points thoughtfully and firmly. She has shown great sensitivity to the challenges facing both organizations.”

Elizabeth Luckenbach, an attorney with Jaffe Raitt in Southfield and a past president of the OCBF, credits Stadig Elliot for encouraging her to take on leadership roles in the Oakland County legal community.
“Lisa’s impact on the OCBA and OCBF was tremendous,” says Luckenbach. “Her impact on me, personally, was tremendous. Lisa inspired my desire to get more involved with both organizations and, ultimately, to take leadership roles with both. She’s been a mentor and a friend, and she will be sorely missed.”

Stadig Elliot and her husband, a CPA and chief financial officer for Corrigan Moving Systems, make their home in Milford in a historic farmhouse they have renovated. Their work on the home has been a “labor of love” for the couple.

Finding a replacement for Stadig Elliot is now the task of a search committee recently appointed by Jim Derian, current president of the OCBA. The 11-member committee will be chaired by Mike Sullivan with Jennifer Grieco, another past president of the OCBA, serving as co-chair. Other members include: Derian; Circuit Court Judge Wendy Potts; District Court Judge Cynthia Walker; Dan Quick, president of the OCBF; Elizabeth Luckenbach, past president of the OCBF; Tom Howlett, president-elect of the OCBA; Michael Lee, OCBA board member; and Elias Escobedo and Kurt Schnelz, past presidents of the OCBA.

“Our goal is to select a new executive director before the end of the year, as Lisa’s last day of work will be January 3, 2014,” says Derian.