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Yvette McGee Brown '85 Leads Innovative Program Destined to Become National Model for Combating Family Violence

Yvette McGee Brown
Yvette McGee Brown

The Center for Child and Family Advocacy will also include research, education, training and advocacy components. Working cooperatively since 1999, the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office, Franklin County Children Services, Franklin County Sheriff's Office, the Columbus Division of Police, and Children's Hospital initiated this "one-stop" approach. They will share offices in the new Center along with CHOICES, the Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence, and Prevent Child Abuse Ohio.

The Center will have a residential appearance and will provide appropriate child-friendly interview, observation and training rooms. The multi-disciplinary approach will mean a single interview of victims along with shared case management and follow-up.

Yvette is uniquely suited to the challenges of managing this community coalition. Her beginnings were not so different from those of the clients the Center will serve. She was born to a teen-age mother and her father deserted the family shortly thereafter. Yvette's mother defied the odds and eventually earned a college degree. Following this powerful personal example, Yvette excelled in high school and at Ohio University, where she majored in public relations.

A 1985 graduate of the Moritz College of Law, Yvette's career path was shaped by her public service. She began as an Ohio assistant attorney general, and was then promoted to be chief counsel of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, and ultimately became the chief counsel of the Ohio Department of Youth Services. She saw first hand the destructive impact of family violence.

Thinking she might make a difference in the lives of troubled children as a judge, Yvette won election to the Domestic Relations and Juvenile Division of the Franklin County Common Pleas Court in 1992. Despite being the youngest judge in Ohio at the time of her election, she quickly rose to administrative judge, overseeing the administrative staff and an annual budget of $14 million. She earned a reputation for fairness and treating all in her courtroom with respect.

north elevation
The north elevation of the proposed Center

Yvette has shared her growing expertise and experience with a variety of community groups. She is chairperson of the board of YWCA of Columbus and immediate past chairperson of the board of the United Way of Central Ohio. She also serves on the boards of the Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence, the Limited Brands Foundation, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, and the national board of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). She is a long-term member of the Moritz College of Law's National Alumni Council

In announcing her appointment as president of the Center, Children's Hospital CEO Thomas N. Hansen, M.D., said, "We are thrilled that our vision is finally coming to fruition. We can think of no stronger advocate for families and children than Judge McGee Brown, who will lead with a passion born from her role as juvenile judge, community volunteer, and mother."

Children's Hospital
An aerial view of the Children's Hospital complex

Dr. Hansen and Yvette were among the many child advocates who celebrated the June ground-breaking for the new 42,000 square foot Center on Livingston Avenue between Ann and Wager Streets. It is scheduled for completion in fall, 2004. "We are excited about this new facility and the enormous benefits it will provide to the children and families of this community," says Yvette. "This location – near Children's Hospital – is very important because many of the child abuse cases come through the Emergency Department at Children's. This will allow us to provide timely social, medical and mental health services for abused children and link non-offending family members quickly with help."