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Yvette McGee Brown Presents Keynote Address

March 30, 2012 - by Emily Mariani

ALLIANCE, Ohio — Ohio Supreme Court Justice Yvette McGee Brown gave a keynote address Thursday evening as part of the University of Mount Union’s celebration of Women’s History Month.

Brown was the first female African-American to be elected to the Franklin County Common Pleas Court and serve on the Supreme Court of Ohio. She is the 153rd justice and the eighth woman to serve on the Ohio Supreme Court.

During her address, Brown shared about her life and her career and offered inspiration to those in attendance.

“Who you are is not defined to your circumstance, it is to the limit you set on it,” Brown said. “You need to be purposeful, determined, smart and refuse to let others tell you who you are.”

Brown’s speech began with an illustration of when she was a student. She said she was able to succeed because of her knowledge and that young women need to focus on their intelligence rather than their physical appearance.

“You can change how you look, but stupid lasts forever,” Brown stated.

Brown is the first person in her family to attend college and noted that there are people in life that will help others see their greatness, even if they don’t see it yet. Brown’s high school counselor and her grandmother were some of the people in her life who helped her strive for greatness.

When Brown attended law school at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law after graduating from Ohio University, she was overcome with insecurity and self-doubt. She said that even successful people feel insecure at times and added that self-doubt is meant to “spur” a person to work harder.

“There are no barriers to you, only those that are in your head,” Brown said. “Life is about preparation and opportunities — it’s how much you’re going to put in to be successful.”

Prior to her appointment as a justice, Brown served as lead juvenile court judge for Franklin County where she led the creation of the Family Drug Court and the SMART Program, a truancy and educational neglect intervention program. She created the Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children's Hospital, a multi-disciplinary child abuse and family violence center that co-locates prevention, assessment, treatment, research and advocacy services for children and families experiencing abuse.

An active member in her community, McGee Brown has served on the boards of Ohio University, The Ohio State University Medical Center, National Council of the Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, M/I Homes Inc. and Fifth Third Bank of Central Ohio. She also served as former chair of the United Way of Central Ohio, The Ohio State University Alumni Association and the YWCA Columbus Board of Directors.

Following her address, the 2012 Jane Weston Chapman Awards were presented by Karen Petko, Associate Dean of Students at Mount Union.

The award, named for the first female graduate of Mount Union, has been a part of Women's History Month at the University since 1997. It is awarded to faculty, staff and students — male or female — who spread women's history and address women's issues on campus.

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