Life After the NAWCJ Presidency

By Suzette Carlisle Flowers, Ph.D.
Administrative Law Judge
Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation


NAWCJ presidents devote their time, vision, energy, and creativity to advancement of the organization, as members, committee chairs, secretary, treasurer, president-elect, and as president.  After years of service, the fast and furious pace abruptly ends.  But what happens to past presidents when they call their last meeting, and put out the last fire?   Two past presidents answer this question through a one-on-one interview about life after the presidency.  Deneise Lott and Bruce Moore take us on that journey.

 Deneise Turner Lott

  1. Full name and title:

Deneise Turner Lott. I am a retired Administrative Law Judge where I served on the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission (“MS”) as a staff attorney for four years and as an administrative law judge for 34 years.

  1. Current work status:

 I retired from the MS Workers’ Compensation Commission on June 30, 2022.  I currently serve as Vice-President of the newly formed Kids’ Chance of MS, the state chapter of Kids’ Chance of America.  I am also on the board of the MS Bar’s Workers’ Compensation Section’s Mediation Project, which recruits and trains workers’ compensation attorneys to mediate cases.  The attorney mediators donate $50.00 of every mediation hour’s fee to the Kids’ Chance Scholarship Fund.

  1. Brief history of career: positions/tenure:

 After a stint in private practice, I joined the Workers’ Compensation Commission as a staff attorney.  I worked with the Administrative Judges for a year and with the Commissioners for three years.  The last two years that I worked with the Commissioners, I also taught Workers’ Compensation Law as an adjunct faculty member of The Mississippi College School of Law.

A position became open as an Administrative Judge with the Commission.  In Mississippi, the Commissioners hire the Administrative Judges with the consent of the Governor.  How deeply a Governor is involved in the hiring process depends on all the vagaries of state politics.  I suspected I was too young and unproven to get the job the first time I applied for it, and I was right!  But I did make my intentions known as a contender.  The second time I applied for an opening as an Administrative Judge, I was “out politiced,” which was not hard to do in my case.  The third time was the charm, although my luck was surely enhanced by the endorsement of a remote, but kind and sympathetic social contact: my childhood best friend’s former boyfriend was a colleague of and former speech writer for the Governor.

I had the honor and privilege to serve as an Administrative Judge for thirty-four years before retiring last summer.   During the last twenty plus years of my tenure, I was the senior judge (meaning I had more years on the bench, not necessarily more birthdays, than my fellow brethren).  Since retiring from the bench in 2022, I have enjoyed spending time on the east coast with Susannah Rose, my two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter.  I am excited about the arrival of Susannah’s baby brother or sister in the summer of 2023.

  1. How did you become acquainted with NAWCJ?

I was introduced to NAWCJ through my association with SAWCA, the Southern Association of Workers’ Compensation Administrators.  It, too, is an organization of workers compensation administrators and adjudicators, and the two organizations’ membership rolls overlap.  From NAWCJ’s inception in 2008-2009, I was impressed with its leadership and its mission to educate the workers’ compensation judiciary and improve the justice system.  Chief Judge David Langham, in particular, encouraged me to attend the annual Judiciary College in Orlando.  The quality of the programming, the easy kinship of the group which was limited to adjudicators, and the chance to learn from and commiserate with judges in my field from all over the country “hooked” me.

  1. In additional to past president, what leadership roles have you held in the organization and when?

I was a board member for several years before being asked to join the Executive Committee and serve as Secretary and President-Elect.  I also helped plan the New Judges’ College and served on the faculty of several Judiciary Colleges.

  1. List an achievement, event or person you believe made a significant contribution to the organization’s history during your tenure with the organization?

NAWCJ is a good example of synergy:  the combined efforts of the organization are greater than the sum of its parts.  The Judiciary College is the premier event each year, rivaled only by the New Judges’ College because of its equally impressive programming.  In between these events, Lex and Verum and Lunch and Learn virtual programs enlighten and entertain.  Likewise, I cannot single out one person’s achievement.  NAWCJ has many talented, selfless jurists whose vision, persistence, and expertise contribute to its success, including Chief Judge Langham, current and past presidents, newsletter editors, and committee chairs.

  1. Do you believe the organization remains relevant today? More than ever.
  1. If so, in what way?

A wise judge once told me, “Never get used to it.”  No matter how many hearings we hold or how many orders we write, each case is unique and there is more to learn – about the law, our craft, and our role in promoting confidence in the justice system. Through NAWCJ, we can hone our skills, broaden our perspective, and continually reset our expectations so we never get used to it.

  1. How can members get more involved with the organization?

Attend the Judiciary College and get to know your colleagues inside and outside the classroom.  Contact board members or committee chairs and offer to work on a committee.  New talent is always welcome!  Write an article for the newsletter.  Sign up to judge the National Moot Court competition.  Volunteer to speak on a topic of special interest or expertise.  Suggest a topic you would like to read about in the Lex and Verum or hear discussed during a Lunch and Learn program.  The Conference Committee always needs help with logistics during the week of the Judiciary College, even if it is to ferry a fellow judge or two to Smokey Bones for dinner on Tuesday night.

  1. How can the board do more to reach members and expand membership?

NAWCJ offers members an excellent return on investment, professionally and personally.  The benefits of membership sell themselves.  We can broadcast these benefits by continuing to strengthen ties with other professional groups, attending their conferences, and developing a “speakers’ bureau.” Innovation is also important to growth.   Actively recruiting Millennials and young Gen-Xers will help attract a whole new demographic who are eager to share their ideas and make a mark.  They are often masters of social media because they grew up with the internet in a competitive marketing environment.

  1. Is there anything you would like to add about the organization yourself?

Life is about relationships, and the relationships forged through my involvement with NAWCJ still encourage and inspire me.  NAWCJ also provides a forum to think creatively and to contribute in ways my more tightly scripted life as a judge did not allow. In that regard, value added would be an understatement.

Judges John Lazzara (Florida), Karl Aumann (Maryland), and Deneise Lott (Mississippi)










Susannah Rose, age 21/2, Judge Lott’s granddaughter









Bruce E. Moore

  1. Please state your full name and title.

Honorable Bruce E. Moore, Administrative Law Judge, Kansas Department of Labor, Division of Workers’ Compensation

  1. What is your current work status?

I still work full time, and I look forward to retirement in 2026.  Retirement may include relocation to Colorado and enjoying cruise trips.

  1. Please state a brief history of your career, i.e., positions and dates.

I graduated from law school in 1980 and entered private practice in Kansas City.  For about eleven years, I worked both as a claimant’s attorney and as a respondent’s attorney.  I relocated to Salina in 1991 after my wife finished her residency and began her pathology practice.

After moving to Salina, I planned to be a stay-at-home Dad to our three children.  However, after a short time, I longed to return to work.  For four years I worked as a prosecutor in the Saline County Attorney’s Office. In 1995, I was hired as an Administrative Law Judge with the Kansas Department of Human Resources (now the Kansas Department of Labor), Division of Workers’ Compensation.  I currently serve on this bench.  We have an office cat named Simone who is blind in one eye, but she is a real asset to our two-person office.  Simone goes home with me at night. My wife agreed the cat could stay provided she could name her, which she did.   I have two grandchildren.

  1. How did you become acquainted with NAWCJ?

In 2010, during NAWCJ’s third year of existence, a flyer was sent to my agency, advertising the judiciary college. My director forwarded the flyer to me.  I was intrigued and applied for a scholarship. The scholarship was granted, and I’ve been coming back ever since. The second year I paid my own way.  The Director attended and became sold until the administration changed and the State lost interest.  However, the Director continued to attend.  Now Kansas judges can attend if they want to but it is not encouraged.  I asked Mike Alvey how I could get involved and he introduced me to the committee structure.

  1. In addition to being a past president, what other leadership roles have you held in the organization?

I was elected Secretary in 2016. At that time, officers served two years, rather than 1, so I served two years as Secretary.  In 2018, I was elected President-elect, and assumed the Presidency for the 2019-2020 term. I have also worked on the Conference and Curriculum committees and chaired the Curriculum Committee for two years before assuming the presidency.

  1. List an achievement, event, or person you believe has made a significant contribution to the organization during your years of service.

I don’t recall a single event of significance in NAWCJ’s genesis, but there is a person who’s always working behind the scenes to advance NAWCJ and its programs:  David Langham.  Judge Langham was around when NAWCJ was first formed, he knows EVERYBODY, and has been on the board both officially and unofficially (whether on the board or not, he would gladly do anything for NAWCJ). He has declined leadership roles and avoids formal recognition for his efforts, but the strength of NAWCJ is, in no small part, a product of his efforts and commitment.

  1. Do you believe the organization remains relevant today?  Absolutely!!
  1. If so, in what way?

NAWCJ provides the workers’ compensation judiciary an organization geared specifically to its needs, with tailor-made educational programming, the opportunity to learn other states’ approaches to common issues affecting the workers’ compensation arena, and the ability to network with judges from across the country.

  1. How can members get more involved with the organization?

That’s easy!! If someone wants to get involved, they should contact any current or past officer or board member, and say “how can I help?” There are many opportunities to serve NAWCJ, depending on one’s individual interests.  Opportunities include planning for and presenting at the annual judiciary college and related activities; planning and presenting our “Boot Camps” for new and newer judges; and writing for the Lex and Verum newsletter; among other opportunities. A great way to start would be to write a letter to the Lex and Verum, introducing yourself and your organization, and expressing an interest in getting involved.  I guarantee an enthusiastic response!

  1. How can the board do more to reach members and expand membership?

That’s more difficult. We communicate with the membership (and prospective members) largely by email, but we are all inundated with emails on a daily basis. It’s hard to get and hold someone’s attention with an email, particularly one that was not solicited, assuming it even got by the agency’s spam controls. Even emailed flyers can get lost in the myriad of junk mail we tend to receive.  Personal contact would be the best, maybe having a NAWCJ representative at a table at IAIABC and SAWCA events.  We also need to identify and make contact with other regional groups like SAWCA, and establish a presence at their gatherings.

  1. Is there anything you would like to add about the organization, yourself, etc.?

 NAWCJ is a great organization.  I had already been a judge for almost 15 years when I found NAWCJ, and I was getting a little stale. NAWCJ rejuvenated me. I am one of 10 workers’ compensation judges in Kansas, and I staff a satellite office. The office has just my administrative assistant and me, and I was feeling isolated. With NAWCJ, I realized that, even though I was slogging through an endless docket of workers compensation claims, I was not and am not alone. Judges decide workers compensation claims in states all around me.  They may have different titles, use different terminology, and employ procedures that I may consider foreign, but we are all doing the same thing and confronting the same issues. We can learn from one another. The NAWCJ judiciary college is important in another way: Held in Florida in conjunction with the WCI conference, attendees are presented with irrefutable proof that workers’ compensation is a respected and dynamic area of the law. In some states, workers’ compensation ranks right up there in prestige with traffic court. Administrative Law Judges may be viewed by state courts and appellate judges as the “bottom of the judicial bucket” – not “real” judges, and not worthy of much respect. Attend the NAWCJ Judiciary College, meet your peers from across the country, and return home with your head held high. You/we are doing important work.

Bruce E. Moore – Kansas