Jody Iorns, CCCBA Executive Director – Simply Meant to Be
“It feels like the entirety of my vocational journey led me to this role as Executive Director of the CCCBA,” Jody Iorns said in a recent interview.
While Jody has been settling in at the CCCBA, she is finding herself running into people that she’s worked with over the years during her extensive past experience in the non-profit world. Jody has been the Executive Director with Muscular Dystrophy Association SF Greater Bay Area; Diablo Valley Foundation for the Aging; Epilepsy Foundation of Northern California; Mothers Against Drunk Driving; and the YWCA of Sacramento. In between, she started her own business called Court Connection which turned into a position as the Administrator of the CCCBA Family Law Section. That role proved close to her heart and she kept her hand in it by producing the Family Law Section’s newsletter and website until the fall of 2022.
Another integral connection is her family link to the legal community and the court. Jody’s mother is Barbara Suskind and stepfather is Commissioner Lowell Richards (Ret.). Both Barbara and Commissioner Richards have been long-time active members of the CCCBA. Barbara, a recently retired family law attorney for 25 years, maintained a private practice and served as private judge, referee and Special Master in difficult Family Law cases. She continues to serves a a board member for the Congress of Neutrals. Commissioner Richards presided over civil harassment restraining orders, small claims, unlawful detainers, and traffic cases in the Contra Costa Superior Court for over 18 years. He also taught at the California Judicial College.
With so many connections in common, Jody and CCCBA’s past ED, Theresa Hurley have known each other since the early 1990s. They ran in the same circles in the non-profit world, and got to know each well when their children attended the same preschool, Creative Play Center in Pleasant Hill.
Here’s another amazing coincidence. Jody was instrumental in Theresa joining the CCCBA 11 years ago, and Theresa did the same for Jody this summer. Back in 2011, Jody was working as administrator of the Family Law Section, and Theresa called to ask her about the Education and Events role at the CCCBA. “I knew she would be perfect for it,” said Jody. Fast forward to the spring of 2022, Therese Bruce, the current administrator for the Family Law Section, called Jody when she read that Theresa Hurley was leaving the CCCBA. Jody emailed Theresa asking if what she heard was true. Theresa confirmed it and, after clearing it with the hiring committee, explained the job and its challenges. “I thought it was serendipitous,” said Jody. “I was ready for something different after working for social causes for the past 30 years. My personal motto is ‘in all things effect positive change.’ To me, the CCCBA is the best of both worlds. We can partner with our members to impact social causes.”
Another key tenant Jody holds dear is her deep respect and feeling of responsibility to incorporate best practices for equity and inclusion. “As part of C3 nonprofits for many years, there has been a constant and consistent conversation around how to reach the underserved. Every nonprofit I’ve ever worked with has prioritized it and my goal is always to make our community safe and inclusive,” she said.
Although she admits she is no expert, over the past two years Jody has formalized and developed a framework to address diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). She took many courses so she “could grasp and understand the issues to effectively communicate them while honoring and respecting the people who are trying to affect change.”
As for her goals for the CCCBA, Jody said, “we are coming out of post shutdown and merging into a new landscape for the bar and society at large. The significant tenant for the bar is to continue to grow and build inclusion for the members, and ensure we respond to changes in the community to be effective partners to our members. We need to recognize changes our members are facing and learn new ways we can be an effective and strong partner. And we need to reach out to younger members – find a way to capture and grow the spirit and energy that younger generations inevitably bring to our business.
By far Jody’s favorite “job” is being a mom to her “three incredible kids.” Tori, 22 years old, is living and working in Tucson, Arizona. She goes to school part time and works as a hostess in a restaurant. She is the proud fur mom to a dog and a cat.
Drew is 18 years old and will go to DVC in the spring. He loves anime and is looking at a business degree or for a new vocational experience. He is a “lemonade from lemons” kind of kid.
Her youngest, Izzy, is almost 16. She is a sophomore in high school, extra bright and creative. She loves to dance, art, and is focused on friends, school and getting her driver’s license.
Jody has a dog, two cats, and a bunny in “a tiny home with lots of animals.” Her family is her “number one priority, number one responsibility and number one blessing.”
Jody said, “I always credit my mom for my vocational journey. In college, while serving on the student government board of directors, I was overwhelmed with the many societal issues facing our community, from single moms trying to get an education; to Earth Day; to on-campus violence; alcohol abuse; and so on. After listening to my angst and worry, my mom simply said, ‘so what are you going to do about it?’ And I realized that, while I couldn’t fix everything, I had the power to focus on and hopefully positively impact one issue at a time.
“It’s like the Rock of Gibraltar – the rock representing all of the world’s ills,” Jody said. “On our own we cannot manage a big problem like that. But if each of us had a chisel and we each focus on the issue we want to fix, together we could make a big impact and bring ‘the rock’ down to a manageable size.
“So I have my own little chisel and I work away. I know there are millions like me. It gives me hope and faith to get through these challenging times. When push comes to shove, we can each lend a hand to those in need and make a significant difference.”