Will Simmons, the District Court Administrator for Georgia’s Sixth Judicial Administrative District, currently serves as president of the Board of Directors for the National Association for Court Management (NACM) and will be succeeded in that role next year by his fellow Georgian, Tracy J. BeMent, the District Court Administrator for Georgia’s Tenth Judicial Administrative District. Will Simmons recalls that he started his career in the courts working in a law library over 20 years ago and was quickly introduced to the Georgia Council of Court Administrators. Later, Simmons joined GCCA’s national counterpart, NACM, and he was “blown away to learn about court management from a national perspective.” Simmons was, and still is, struck by the high quality of NACM’s educational sessions. Simmons has been involved in NACM leadership on and off the Board of Directors and with various committees for the last ten years.
Currently as president, Simmons hopes to grow the association’s membership, assist with completing a new five-year strategic plan and national agenda, continue strong partnerships with national judicial associations, provide guidance and support to NACM board members, and strengthen relationships with state associations. He sees adequate funding, access to justice, public trust and confidence, and integrated court technology systems as the biggest challenges facing courts today.
In his free time, Simmons enjoys golfing and riding his Harley. He also loves family vacations. When he really wants to relax, he’ll take a quiet barefoot walk alone on the beach.
Tracy BeMent, who will succeed Simmons as NACM president next year, recalls that he first joined NACM almost 20 years ago in Washington, D.C. when he started his career in the courts and wanted to learn how to be a better court administrator. He soon joined some NACM committees and was asked to fill in on the Board for a year when there was a vacancy. Over the years, BeMent remained on various committees and is now in his sixth year on the board. BeMent notes of his NACM colleagues, “I continue to be amazed at the commitment of court professionals around the country.”
This year, as President-Elect, BeMent’s primary role is to coordinate the two national conferences that NACM hosts. For those conferences, BeMent has selected the theme: “Connected Courts.” BeMents explains that, “as an institution, courts are a part of the local, state, and national community and, as such, courts must be connected to their communities.” BeMent is committed to ensuring that courts contribute to the conversation on numerous important issues ranging from substance abuse to mental health. BeMent is also committed to ensuring that “access to justice is not just a platitude, but is real and achievable.
While bullish on his goals and noting that courts remain “one of the most trusted institutions,” BeMent nonetheless recognizes the many challenges facing our court system. One such challenge is for our courts to “work together with partners in the criminal, civil, and juvenile justice areas to promote a community-based approach to access to justice” and he calls on all involved to meet those challenges with “an open mind and understanding.”
In his free time, BeMent enjoys spending time with his wife, and tries to run several times a week when possible. The life of a District Court Administrator means that he is on the road to and from various courts regularly. As a result, he is a fan of audiobooks and listens to close to a dozen per year.
by Noelle Lagueux-Alvarez