Steve Pengelly: A Fearless Advocate for the Legal Profession

  • December 08, 2017

Steve PengellyAfter more than a decade in service to the Association, the OBA is saying so long to Executive Director and Counsel Steve Pengelly, who has announced his intention to retire in early 2018.

Steve joined us in 2006, bringing with him a wealth of experience in both the private and public sectors. He began his career as Premier William Davis' Legislative Assistant, followed by a decade with Ontario Hydro, first as a Special Assistant to the Chairman and later as Manager of Government Relations and Manager of Public Hearings.  He served as Chief of Staff to Ernie Eves when he was Minister of Finance, and again when Mr. Eves became Premier of Ontario.

As OBA's Executive Director, Steve has worked with the Board of Directors and the Senior Management Team to modernize and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of OBA's operations and to advocate for and champion the work of members. In recent years, Steve has devoted much of his time to working with CBA leadership from across the country to drive the organization's Re-think and CBA 2.0 initiatives.

During his tenure, Steve has worked with 13 different OBA presidents, all of whom bear praise and admiration for his dedicated service.

I was truly fortunate to have served with Steve at the OBA for 4 years of his 11-year tenure as Executive Director. Steve dealt with every issue confronting him in a calm, fair, reasonable, even-handed manner. His advice was sought not only within the OBA but by other lawyer organizations across the country. His counsel will be greatly missed. My best wishes to Steve for a long and happy retirement. The legal profession is better for having had Steve serve us for the past 11 years.      

-        Morris Chochla, Forbes Chochla LLP (2012-2013 OBA President)

Not one to welcome the spotlight, Steve has often worked behind the scenes, leading effectively by providing invaluable counsel, support and encouragement to the Board of Directors, volunteer members and staff. He attributes his many impressive accomplishments to teamwork, yet it is Steve himself who has cultivated collaboration, transforming the OBA into a cohesive and strong association.

Over the past decade the OBA has become a more responsive and effective association thanks to Steve Pengelly and his outstanding team. From the moment he arrived in August of 2006, Steve has been an attentive innovator and team builder. A careful listener, he takes the time necessary to plumb the depths of association policy and administration, marshalling consensus on the issues of the day; and fearlessly advocating new directions for tomorrow's legal professionals. To Steve we offer our gratitude and appreciation for his many years of service!

-        The Honourable Justice Heather McGee (2005-2006 OBA President)

At a recent luncheon hosted by staff in Steve’s honour, many spoke of his positive nature, approachable demeanor, genuine compassion and humour. A lawyer and keen businessman, Steve’s knowledge and experience has served the OBA well. However it is the “human” approach he brings to leadership that sets him above others in his station.

Congratulations on your retirement, Steve. Thank you for over a decade of service.  I have often said that when (if) I grow up, I want to be just like you.  I wasn’t kidding. You are a model administrator. You have been decisive when others have dithered; you have  been incisive when others are blind; you have been calm in crises (and there have been many) while others we swept up in the moment; you kept one eye on the specific goal and the other on the big picture when others lost their way; you built consensus when the tide was sweeping us to division;  you remained calm while being buffeted by the hostile winds of change; you recognized talent in others and inspired them to improve.  What is more impressive, is that through all of this you kept you equanimity and your wonderful sense of humour. I will miss your chortle. 

-        The Honourable Justice Jamie K. Trimble (2008- 2009 OBA President)

While we are sad to see Steve go, we celebrate his many accomplishments and give thanks for his exemplary service.


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