Conversation Series

ConversationSeries_HeaderFaculty of the Program on Law and Leadership extend an invitation to a group
 of law students, usually fewer than 20, to attend lunch with a distinguished
 guest. Discussions normally highlight the guest’s career climaxes and leadership participation. Several conversations are held each year, and speakers are typically lawyers whose positions are outside of the usual law firm career track, including lawyer-leaders in nonprofit organizations, private businesses, or government. Student attendees who have expressed interests in a certain area of law are matched with guests to allow those students to interact with attorneys who represent a wide range of law-intersecting careers.


Conversation with Brian Sandoval ’89, Governor of Nevada

September 11, 2015 | A former  legislator and Nevada’s youngest state gaming commission chairman at the age of 35, Sandoval was elected as the first Latino attorney general in the state and was appointed by President George W. Bush as the first Latino U.S. district court judge. Sandoval opted out of the lifetime judicial appointment to serve as the state’s first Latino governor.

Conversation with Greg Kirstein, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the Columbus Blue Jackets

February 11, 2015 | Greg Kirstein is the senior vice president and general counsel for the Columbus Blue Jackets organization and oversees all legal matters for the club as well as its human resources department. He joined the club as general counsel in 1998, bringing with him over 16 years of experience as a litigator and additional expertise.

Conversation with Subha Lembach, Director of the Juvenile Justice Community Planning Initiative

October 9, 2014 | As Director of the Juvenile Justice Community Planning Initiative, Subha works on advocating for and developing data driven systems change to reduce the number of youth in detention. Subha has a passion for board service and is a board member for the Columbus Junior League, as well as the Columbus Museum of Art Women’s Board, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and others.

Other recent events in the conversation series include:

A Conversation with Keith Faber ’91

Ohio Senate President Faber ‘91,  joined in a discussion on leadership in government.  Faber has dedicated the past 15 years to serving Ohioans in the Statehouse. He represents the 12th State Senate District, encompassing all of Allen, Champaign, Mercer and Shelby counties, as well as portions of Auglaize, Darke and Logan counties. He currently serves in his second term as President of the Senate. Prior to his election to the Senate, he served three terms in the Ohio House of Representatives. For his efforts, he has been named a Watchdog of the Treasury five times (2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 & 2012), Outstanding Legislator of the Year (2004) by the United Conservatives of Ohio, as well as Legislator of the Year (2014) by the Ohio State Chiropractic Association. Other honors include receiving the Moms for Ohio’s Public Service award for his work to promote strong families and traditional Ohio values. He has been recognized for his commitment to agriculture with the “Friend of Agriculture” award (2014) by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation Agriculture for Good Government Political Action.

A Conversation with Demetries Neely ’84

Neely is the executive director of The King Arts Center in Columbus. She discussed nonprofit leadership.

A Conversation with Lavea Brachman

As Executive Director and a co-founder of the Greater Ohio Policy Center, Lavea has been instrumental in shaping the organization’s direction and strategic policy priorities aimed at restoring prosperity to Ohio. She brings a passion for community and economic redevelopment to this work and a belief in the productive impact of linking sound policy with good practices. To advance this agenda in Ohio, Lavea has also formed strategic organizational partnerships with state and national organizations, including through her previous positions as non-resident senior fellow with the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program and as a policy fellow with the German Marshall Fund in Washington, D.C., which she has advised on their “cities in transition” initiative investigating European city revitalization practices that can be modeled in U.S. cities. Lavea previously practiced environmental law in Washington, D.C. and was a partner with a Cambridge, Massachusetts consulting firm advising Fortune 500 companies on brownfield property redevelopment strategies. She also worked in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management at the Department of Energy during the Clinton Administration on community and neighborhood development and land reuse issues surrounding the U.S. decommissioned nuclear sites. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College, a law degree from The University of Chicago Law School, and a master’s in city planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has two teenagers and lives with her family in a first-ring suburb of Columbus, Ohio.

A Conversation with Richard F. Celeste

Former U.S. Ambassador to India and Governor of Ohio Richard F. Celeste  shared stories about his experiences as a public servant and why it is as important as ever that more motivated young people stay engaged in local, state, and national government. Celeste began his career in public service in 1963 after returning from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. Following his time in England, he served in the staff liaison office in the Peace Corps before moving to India as special assistant to Chester Bowles, the then U.S. Ambassador. Celeste returned to Ohio and was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives from Cuyahoga County in 1970. He was next elected to be the 55th Lieutenant Governor in 1974 and served under a Republican, James A. Rhodes.  In 1978, Celeste ran for governor, but lost to incumbent Rhodes. President Carter appointed Celeste to serve as Director of the Peace Corps from 1979-1981.

In 1982, Celeste ran for Governor again and won.  He served two terms as Governor of Ohio where he navigated Ohio through the savings and loan crisis, increased support for mental health and addiction recovery services, increased funding for education and children services, all while opening more government positions to African Americans and appointing more women to his cabinet than every previous governor combined. At the end of his second term Celeste, controversially, granted clemency to a number of Ohio prisoners acknowledging the racial disparity in sentencing in Ohio and battered women’s syndrome. Celeste worked briefly on health care reform for the DNC in 1993.  From 1991 until 1997 his firm Celeste and Sabety designed regional and local economic development strategies. In 1997 President Clinton named Celeste as his Ambassador to India. Celeste most recently retired from his position as the President of Colorado College, which was his longest continuous position anywhere in his long career, at 9 years. He now serves on numerous boards and is responsible for the soon to be built U.S. Olympic museum, which is slated to be break ground in Colorado Springs.

A Conversation with Mary Augsburger

Augsburger is the executive director of the Ohio State Bar Association.

A Conversation with Andre Porter ’05

Andre Porter joined the PLL for a conversation entitled, “Leading a State Government Department”. As Director of Commerce, Porter oversees one of the state’s chief regulatory agencies.  The Department of Commerce enforces laws that apply to state-chartered financial institutions, mortgage brokers and loan originators, securities, real estate brokers and appraisers, the state fire code, liquor control, construction compliance, minimum and prevailing wages, unclaimed funds, underground storage tanks, elevators, cable providers, and others.

Prior to being named Director of Commerce, Porter served as a Commissioner at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.  There, he assisted in the regulation of Ohio’s utilities, which include electric, water, gas, telecommunications, and commercial transportation.  Before being appointed as a Commissioner, Porter an attorney with Schottenstein Zox & Dunn Co. (now Ice Miller LLP) where his legal practice focused on real estate taxation and public utilities in addition to providing general counsel for public agencies, including municipalities and counties.

A Conversation with Kelley Griesmer ’93

Before Griesmer became chief operating officer of Pelotonia, she was a partner at Jones Day, representing clients in complex commercial litigation. She handled
Chapter 11 adversary proceedings, took on class action claims, defended breach  of contract actions, and successfully argued before the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court
of Appeals, securing a multimillion-dollar judgment on behalf of one client.

A Conversation with Justice Judith French

Justice Judith L. French became  the 155th justice of the Ohio Supreme Court on January 1, 2013. She was  appointed by Gov. John R. Kasich on December 20, 2012. Prior to her appointment, Justice  French served at the Tenth District Court of Appeals, which hears appeals from  Franklin County courts and state administrative agencies. She was elected to  the appellate court in November 2004 and served until her appointment. Prior to becoming a judge,  Justice French served as chief legal counsel to Governor Taft. Dedicated to public service, Justice French  also served as an assistant attorney general and then chief counsel in the  office of Attorney General Betty Montgomery from 1997 to 2002. While there, she argued twice in the United  States Supreme Court. Most recently, she  argued on behalf of the State in the Cleveland school vouchers case. Justice French began her state  service in 1993 as deputy director for legal affairs at the Ohio Environmental  Protection Agency. She was also an  associate counsel at Steelcase Inc. in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and an associate  at the Columbus law firm of Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur, where she  practiced environmental law.