Alumni News

April 13, 2021 at 10:19 am

Alumni Panel Focuses on Civil Liberties, Leadership, and Law School

Campus Action Team ACLU Ohio University

The ACLU of Ohio University hosted a virtual alumni panel that featured four previous executive board members—three of them currently in law school, and one headed to law school in the fall.

The March 30 panel featured Nick Concilla, a 2L at Florida State University College of Law; Kristin Kelley, who is completing her M.A. in Law, Justice & Culture and heading to the University of Denver in the fall; Gabrielle Tharp, who obtained their M.A. in Law, Justice & Culture from Ohio University in 2020 and is now a 1L at the University of Colorado Law School; and Lydia Wendel, a 1L at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

The panelists reflected on how their participation in ACLU student organization helped them find their passions and pursue them.

“It was really nice to hear from all the alums and the ways they have continued civil liberties work throughout their various grad schools’ experiences and meet new people,” noted ACLU of Ohio University new member coordinator Hailey Gifford.

Since graduating from OHIO and their participation with the Center for Law, Justice & Culture, all of the panelists have remained passionate about leadership and civil liberties issues.

Concilla, for example, currently serves as Vice President of the Student Bar Association and President of Student Veterans at FSU. During his time at OHIO, he helped found the ACLU of Ohio University, and during his time as director, he led many criminal justice reform initiatives.

Kristin Kelley, portrait

Kristin Kelley

Similarly, Kelley, who served as the deputy director of the organization in the 2019-20 school year, is completing the one-year M.A. in Law, Justice & Culture where she is doing research into Tribal Law and the Order Act of 2010. Her research examines the act as a “jurisdictional maze” that operates as a mechanism for the perpetuation of settler colonial violence against Native women. She recently accepted a position in the Chancellor’s Scholar Program in the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver. This position offers a full-tuition scholarship and an opportunity to pursue special opportunities in public interest law.

Gabrielle Tharp, portrait

Gabrielle Tharp

Like Kelley, Tharp went on to obtain their M.A. in Law, Justice & Culture from Ohio University in 2020 and  is now a 1L at the University of Colorado Law School. Tharp served as the director of ACLU-OU from 2018-2019, and during their time and had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., for the national ACLU conference. They shared this experience, and many others while on the panel.

Lydia Wendel, portrait

Lydia Wendel

Finally, Wendel was the director of the ACLU of Ohio University from 2019-20 and was the organization’s secretary the year previous. She, too, traveled with Tharp to Washington to the ACLU national conference in 2018. After graduating, Wendel accepted a full tuition scholarship to The Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, where she is currently a 1L. During her time at Moritz, she had remained active in their chapter of the ACLU.

“Being a 1L representative for the ACLU at Moritz has given me the change to continue building upon the passion that I found while at OU, meet like-minded peers at Moritz, and has also led me to a new role of president-elect for the upcoming year. I’m forever grateful to the ACLU-OU for leading me to such opportunities.” Wendel shared.

Since the panelists joined from across the country, current Director of the ACLU-OU Micaela Beatham-Garcia expressed gratitude for the virtual platform and alumni contributions.

“Although it can be draining to be online all day, we have tried to utilize it to do things we wouldn’t be able to, like connect with alumni who are far away. It was inspiring to talk to them, and we hope to be able to do this again next year!”

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