Ginny Trethewey ’77 is many things: a philanthropist, an avid traveler, and chief operating officer of the Ohio State Alumni Association. Yet the title that Trethewey is most proud of is Ohio State mentor.
“Mentoring is the greatest satisfaction I have right now, outside of direct work projects,” she said.
Trethewey has ongoing relationships with law students, graduates, and even undergraduates to whom she offers guidance and encouragement. She traces her passion for mentoring back to her days as a law student.
“I can’t say enough about the quality of the faculty at Moritz and how much they cared and were concerned for your well being and your preparation,” she said. “Through mentoring, you do feel like you’re passing that on.”
Trethewey entered law school after she served four years as a sixth-grade teacher in the Fredericktown, Ohio public school system.
“I had never intended to teach,” she said. “But I came to Ohio from Seattle because my husband took a job teaching at Kenyon, and I found myself in Gambier, where there was precious little to do.”
“I basically talked my way into a teaching job for which I had zero preparation, except for a good political science education,” she said, laughing. “It was a lot of fun, though.”
After graduating cum laude from Moritz, she joined the Columbus office of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease for 15 years. There, she stood as a mentor to female associates and fostered the firm’s policy for maternity leave and part-time employment. In 1979, she became the first attorney to give birth in the firm’s then 70-year history.
“I was in the generation of women that was just beginning to emerge into law. I was really only the sixth or seventh woman the firm had ever hired.”
In 1991, Trethewey left her career at Vorys to raise her second son. She returned to full-time work four years later as vice president of legal affairs and general counsel at OSU. Trethewey continued her work for women in this position when she became a driving force behind the establishment of The Women’s Place and the President’s Council on Women’s Issues.
“When I came in as general counsel, there were just a handful of women in senior administrative and leadership positions,” she said.
“So naturally we got to know one another, and we conceived the idea of what eventually became The Women’s Place. It was really the culmination of what had been grass roots efforts.”
In 2004, the Ohio State Bar Association’s Women in the Profession Section honored Trethewey for her improvement of the legal profession for women with the Nettie Cronise Lutes Award.
Trethewey considers the award a “rallying point” of her career.
“To learn of the other women who had received that award over time, it was actually pretty significant. I still have a great big poster in my rec room from the ceremony.”
Today, Trethewey is chief operating officer of the Ohio State Alumni Association and works alongside Archie Griffin, the organization’s President/CEO.
“I’m the person who makes sure the trains run on time,” she said.
“Archie obviously has a big external role, so I’m more of the inside person.”
Trethewey oversees everything from alumni membership acquisitions to the publication of the alumni magazine, which circulates to more than 100,000 people.
Trethewey said that the experience she gained while acting as counsel to a variety of businesses in her career has greatly helped.
“I observed and learned a lot about business decision making and practices,” she said.
In addition to her work as a mentor and full-time job, Trethewey serves the community in several other ways. She’s an active member of the Wexner Center’s Donor Circle and Ohio State’s Women in Philanthropy group, and also serves on the boards of CAPA and The Wellington School where she co-chaired the capital campaign for a new academic building. Trethewey is visibly proud of her two sons and values the education they received at Wellington.
“I think creating a habit of philanthropy is really important,” she said. “A lot of that just begins by example. I love the Wexner Center and the things that they do; I’m always happy to support them.” Trethewey is also on the University’s Distinguished Service Award Committee.
“If I’m asked to do something I generally say yes,” she said.
Trethewey has also recently decided to create a planned gift that will benefit both the Alumni Association’s scholarship endowment and the Dean’s Discretionary Fund at Moritz.
“Public funding and tax dollar funding for public education are getting smaller and smaller, and so private fundraising is really important,” she said. “Ohio State’s law school has had wonderful deans,” she said. “I think the discretionary funding lets the dean be a little more entrepreneurial.”
Trethewey said that she has been very fortunate over the course of her career; that fact, and her close connection to Ohio State, made planning a gift to the College both “easy and obvious.”
“I think it’s a pretty simple equation,” she said. “I got, and now it’s time to give.”
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