A Brief History of MIE
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From the MIE Board of Directors
"Something Important Has Not Changed"
A lot of things have changed over the past twenty-five years. In 1985 a gallon of gas was roughly $1.10, the average cost of a house was $89,000, the average income was $22,000 and a movie ticket was about three dollars. However, one thing has remained a constant. From its modest beginnings as the result of an initiative begun by a small group of enlightened program directors in 1985, the mission of MIE has not changed. MIE was created as a mechanism and a forum to exchange ideas about best practices in order to enhance the management and leadership of legal aid programs. This was in part a response to the recognition that we must all do a better job of managing our programs to ensure the highest quality of services for our clients. MIE continues to foster an exchange of ideas today through its trainings, the Journal, the library database and electronic discussion forums. These exchanges are enhanced by MIE’s collaborations with other national partners such as NLADA and CLASP.
MIE members and leaders recognize the importance of creating and supporting a climate of excellence at all levels of the legal aid organization. In its early days, the hallmark of MIE gatherings was the roundtable and the opportunity it offered to share ideas, ask questions and obtain guidance from others who were facing similar challenges. MIE’s early stalwarts recognized a need to provide basic training first to new executive directors and later to program supervisors to encourage and stimulate good work.
The communication mechanism inherent in the MIE design allowed it to not only listen but respond quickly to community needs. MIE members were encouraged to identify training needs and the Journal enabled members to learn about new ideas and best practices. MIE’s capacity to respond to emerging issues and offer trainings via road trips on new initiatives promoted a culture of excellence and innovations. MIE raised the bar for excellence and continues to raise it, refusing to rest upon its laurels.
In the late nineties, MIE developed training for mid-level managers. Directors realized that the effectiveness of the program was hampered if managers lacked the tools they needed to support the development of high quality advocacy. This training is offered every eighteen months and continues to evolve in response to identified needs of active managers. Early in this century, MIE offered a second training to mid-level supervisors, advanced supervision training. This training is also offered every eighteen months. In addition, these trainings have been viewed by many as critical stepping stones to prepare for a role in senior management.
The thread that runs through these trainings is clear, training and support is critical at all levels of an organization to encourage and sustain a culture of excellence. The recognition that there are lessons to be shared led to the publication of MIE Principles of Leadership in the Legal Aid Community. MIE has also developed training modules for both Executive Directors and mid-level supervisors to better utilize the principles.
The merger of the Fundraising Project with MIE in 1998 has led to a rising of the development bar. The sharing of ideas and innovations in seeking out and sustaining alternative sources of funding for civil legal aid has made it almost mandatory that program excellence includes diversified funding.
As we embark on the path to the next quarter century, MIE continues to innovate. We have developed experiential leadership programs, board training as well as a wide range of consultative services. MIE stands ready willing and able to facilitate our collective journey crossing the bridge from being good programs to becoming great programs capable of delivering the highest quality of services to our clients.
Jacquelynne Bowman, Chair
MIE Board of Directors