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The League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus


Rogers honored with Democracy In Action award

Monday, May 16, 2011

Supreme Court Justice Yvette McGee Brown, OSU President E. Gordon Gee, former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, and more turned out to salute Nancy Rogers Thursday evening at the League's annual Democracy In Action awards gala.

Justice Yvette McGee Brown and Nancy Rogers

Former dean of OSU's Moritz College of Law, Rogers now serves as chair of alternative dispute resolution at the law school. She was appointed by former Gov. Ted Strickland to serve as Ohio Attorney General when Marc Dann stepped down in disgrace.

The evening featured tributes from Gee, Cordray, current law school dean Alan Michaels and professor Sharon Davies, and Carl Smallwood. David McCoy, who received the award in 2010 with his late wife, Terry, presented Rogers with the award.

Volunteers included Kitty Burcsu,Lucy and David Buzzee, Esther Connors, Barbara Crabill, Kathy Dougherty,  Anne Hoke, Janyce Katz, Mary Kaul, David McCoy, Anne Nelson, Jan Patton, Eleanor Pearlman, Beth and Brent Taggart, Stuart and Margaret Wright, and Jane Young.

Event Sponsors

Nancy Rogers

Nancy Rogers is the Moritz Chair of Alternative Dispute Resolution at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and is a former Dean of the Law School.

A highly respected lawyer, teacher, and administrator, Nancy has served as President of the Association of American Law Schools, was appointed by President Clinton to the Board of Directors of the Legal Services Corporation, served as one of Ohio’s five commissioners on the National Conference of Commissioners of Uniform State Laws, and chaired the Judicial Advisory Committee, which reviews candidates for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

Yet, it is likely she became most well-known and respected throughout Ohio for a temp job she undertook in 2008: Interim Ohio Attorney General (AG).

Ohio’s Attorney General had been forced to resign over a number of scandals in office. Nancy, then serving as Dean of the OSU Law School, received a call from Governor Ted Strickland’s counsel. He said that the governor was looking for ideas to fill the post, and he wanted her to be “one of the ideas.” By the following week, Governor Strickland announced Nancy as his appointee to the post.

Nancy made it clear that she would not run for Attorney General the following November. That would give her five months to achieve her goal – to quickly restore the integrity of the AG’s office and faith in the rule of law in Ohio. “I called on many people for help – the very best people – and every single one stepped forward,” said Nancy. With the help of her advisors, she went through every part of the AG’s office, looking at every practice. She changed policy after policy to improve the office. She also addressed the morale of the hundreds of very fine career attorneys who work in the AG’s office. And she met with editorial boards throughout Ohio, asking them to make distinction between past and present as a way to regain/retain confidence in rule of law in Ohio.

The vitally important state office, so recently floundering under the weight of scandal and lack of leadership, was now ready to meet the challenges under the next elected AG of Ohio.

Nancy is recognized as an expert in the field of mediation and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and has written award-winning books on the subject. “Dean Jim Meeks had the idea that we ought to be teaching mediation” at the law school, said Nancy, “and he asked me – as new kid on the faculty – to take it on.” The concept was so new then, in the early 1980s, that Nancy had to look it up in card catalog. The first time she taught it, the class also mediated cases in small claims court. “This is why I came to law school - to solve problems. Now I see that this is how I can accomplish that,” said one student’s evaluation, echoing Nancy’s own feeling.

ADR is no longer a movement; it is the status quo. And in these days of over-heated rhetoric, the need for dispute resolution is even more clear.

According to Nancy, “People have always faced off in public discourse. What has been important is people who are willing to step forward and remind us that we’re all human and who can focus on what brought them into public service – a desire to serve.”

An effective mediator needs problem-solving, peace-making, and reasoning skills. Nancy has all these, plus creativity, wise judgment, collaboration, compassion, integrity, energy, decisiveness, openness.

Nancy was born in Michigan and grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, the fourth of five children. Her parents, an agricultural economics professor and a librarian-turned -full-time-parent encouraged her to be a lawyer, although they didn’t know any women lawyers while Nancy was growing up. While Nancy was in college, her father arranged for Nancy to shadow the one woman lawyer in Lincoln. “I sensed she was doing important things in a way I could see myself doing them.”

In Nancy’s last year of college, her father, Clifford Hardin, was chosen to be President Nixon’s Secretary of Agriculture. Nancy was excited to meet someone else who would be at the swearing-in ceremony: Adele Rogers, whose husband William was to be sworn in as Secretary of State. Nancy had been fascinated by an article Adele had written for Mortarboard Magazine about being a woman lawyer. But it was meeting Adele and William’s son Doug that day that would change her life.

Doug and Nancy were married when they were both students at Yale Law School. During Nancy’s third year, Doug had a fellowship in Cleveland, then was on active military duty. After law school, Nancy joined Doug in Cleveland. When Doug was offered the directorship of an agency that advocated for the mentally handicapped in Columbus, pregnant Nancy sent a letter to the OSU Law School offering to volunteer to advise students. The reply was that OSU did not use volunteers, but that her letter would be sent on to the appointments committee.She started her career at OSU as a part-time visiting professor with a baby at home. As she had two more children, “OSU was amazing,” said Nancy, because it allowed her adjust her teaching schedule. When her daughters were all in school, Nancy joined the faculty full-time and eventually became the Dean.

Nancy continues to train future leaders at the OSU School of Law, and she is optimistic about this crop of young lawyers she sees coming up. Like other law students she has taught, “they have the same dreams of making a difference,” she says. The current downturn in the economy, however, has made them more mature and serious in purpose, working so hard in recognition of the investment they’ve made in their education. Nancy predicts that they might well be one of those “great generations.”

Doug retired as a partner from Vorys Sater Seymour and Pease, LLP, when Nancy became Attorney General. Since then he has had great joy in acting as a volunteer lawyer on causes he cares about. Doug and Nancy have been married 41 years. Their three daughters are all lawyers.

Nancy says, “When I was young, I was very unsure of myself because I thought I had to be able to do everything myself. But I found that, if there’s something important to be done, you rarely have to do it yourself. Chances are good that others want to help.”

“You don’t have to be great to be a part of great things happening,” says Nancy.

Honorary Co-Chairs

E. Gordon Gee, Ph.D., is president of The Ohio State University, a world-class public research institution and one of the nation’s most distinguished land-grant universities. As chief executive officer, he oversees Ohio State’s six campuses, 64,000 students, and nearly 40,000 faculty and staff. Gee is among the most highly experienced and respected leaders in higher education, having been named in 2009 by Time magazine as one of the top 10 university presidents in the United States. Prior to his service at Ohio State, he led Vanderbilt University (2001-2007), Brown University (1998-2000), The Ohio State University (1990-97), the University of Colorado (1985-90), and West Virginia University (1981-85).

Born in Vernal, Utah, Gee graduated from the University of Utah with an honors degree in history and earned his J.D. and Ed.D degrees from Columbia University. He clerked under Chief Justice David T. Lewis of the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals before being named a judicial fellow and staff assistant to the U.S. Supreme Court. In this role, he worked for Chief Justice Warren Burger on administrative and legal problems of the Court and federal judiciary. Gee returned to Utah as an associate professor and associate dean in the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University, and was granted full professorship in 1978. One year later, he was named dean of the West Virginia University Law School, and, in 1981, was appointed to that university’s presidency. Gee is a member of several education-governance organizations and committees, including the Big Ten Conference Council of Presidents, the Inter-University Council of Ohio, the Business-Higher Education Forum, and the American Association of Universities. He also serves as co-chair of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities’ Energy Advisory Committee. In 2009, Gee was invited to join the International Advisory Board of King Adbulaziz University in Saudi Arabia. Active in a number of national professional and service organizations, he also serves on the boards of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. and the National 4-H Council.

Gee has received a number of honorary degrees, awards, fellowships, and recognitions. He is a fellow of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest science organization. In 1994, Gee received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Utah, as well as from Teachers College of Columbia University. He is the co-author of eight books and the author of numerous papers and articles on law and education.

Gee’s daughter, Rebekah, is the Director of the Louisiana Birth Outcomes Project, and an assistant professor of Public Health and Medicine at Louisiana State University. She is also a Norman F. Gant/American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology/IOM Anniversary Fellow.

Sharon Davies was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and a Notes and Comments Editor of the Columbia Law Review while in law school at Columbia University. After graduation she worked as an Associate Attorney for Steptoe and Johnson in Washington, D.C. and Lord, Day & Lord Barrett Smith in New York City.

Professor Davies served for five years as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, widely thought to be the premier U.S. Attorney’s Office in the country. She joined the faculty at Ohio State University in 1995, was awarded tenure in 1999, and was promoted to Full Professor in 2002.

Professor Davies’ primary research focus is in the area of criminal law and procedure. Her articles have been published in a variety of leading journals including the Michigan Law Review, the Duke Law Journal, the Southern California Law Review, and Law and Contemporary Problems. She is also a co-author of a leading treatise on health care fraud, Medicare and Medicaid Fraud and Abuse (West Group 2001-2002). Professor Davies teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure (Police Practices), and Evidence.

Alan C. Michaels was approved by The Ohio State University Board of Trustees as dean of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law in November 2008. Dean Michaels graduated from Harvard College magna cum laude in 1983 and from Columbia University School of Law in 1986. Following graduation from law school, Dean Michaels clerked for Chief Judge Wilfred Feinberg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and then Associate Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Dean Michaels spent three years in private practice representing the Major League Baseball Players Association and then served for four years as a prosecutor in New York County before joining Ohio State in 1995. From 2001 to 2003, he served Moritz as associate dean for faculty and has also been a visiting professor at the University of Michigan.

He is coauthor with Professor Joshua Dressler of Understanding Criminal Procedure (4th edition) and serves as co-managing editor of the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law. Dean Michaels was the recipient of the 1998-99 Outstanding Scholarly Paper Award from the Association of American Law Schools. He was chosen as the Outstanding Professor by the graduating class in both 1999 and 2000. Dean Michaels has taught Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure: Adjudication, White Collar Crime, and Sports Law.

Carl Smallwood is a partner in the Vorys Columbus office and a member of the litigation group. He represents clients in litigation, arbitration and mediation of employment-related injury, wrongful termination, professional negligence and toxic exposure disputes.  He appears throughout Ohio on behalf of self-insured and state-funded employers in the defense of intentional tort and retaliatory discharge litigation arising under the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Act and serves as trial counsel to several companies defending asbestos products liability litigation. Mr. Smallwood is a member of the American Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, the Columbus Bar Association, and the John Mercer Langston Bar Association.

Mr. Smallwood is a frequent speaker to clients and trade associations on matters involving workers’ compensation, diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and cross examination of medical experts. Mr. Smallwood received his J.D. from The Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law and his B.S. from The Ohio State University where he was Beta Gamma Sigma.

Richard Cordray is currently serving our country as the Chief of Enforcement for the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington, D.C.  He previously served as Ohio Attorney General, Ohio Treasurer of State, Franklin County Treasurer, State Representative, and as Ohio’s first Solicitor General.

Cordray’s career has been guided by the spirit of community service and the belief that government should strive to make a positive difference in the daily lives of its citizens.  As state representative, he sponsored the Ohio Community Service Education Act.  An accomplished lawyer, Cordray has argued 7 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and taught constitutional law for 13 years at The Ohio State University’s law school.  In 2003, he earned the presidential Service Award from the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation for his work supporting legal services for the poor.

Cordray earned a master’s degree with first-class honors from Oxford University in England and graduated from the University of Chicago Law School, where he was the editor of the Law Review.  He lives near Grove City with his wife Peggy and their young twins.  His earliest claim to fame was as an undefeated five-time champion on the Jeopardy TV show.

Event: Democracy In Action