A special thank-you to the outgoing St. Thomas School of Law Alumni Board members for their years of dedicated service, including Beth Forsythe ’06 J.D., past president, and the following directors: Teddy Michel ’99, ’07 J.D., Grant Gherity ’13 J.D., Christina Hanson ’14 J.D., and Caitlin Hull ’16 J.D.
Congratulations to the incoming alumni board members! What’s next? We asked incoming president Elizabeth Drotning Hartwell ’06 J.D., a partner at Best & Flanagan LLP, to share her vision for alumni engagement and what the board will focus on in its first few months.
What are the greatest opportunities you see for alumni engagement with the law school?
Many have said that ours is an apprenticeship profession, and truly, you can't learn all there is to know in law school alone. But in our first few years as a law school, our alumni were all at the starting line. Now we have almost 20 years’ worth of alumni, many of whom are leaders in their workplaces, well established in their careers, and able to mentor new generations. This opens a whole new universe: Our alumni can now help foster the next stage of learning and growth after law school ends. We have so many opportunities to partner with our amazing faculty and staff to share our knowledge, energy, and resources with current students and each other. I don’t know what all these opportunities look like, but it’s exciting to dream about the possibilities.
How does the alumni board advance the mission of the school?
Our alumni board is the link between the School of Law and the wider world. We play a vital role in advising the school what it’s like out here - what’s going on in the legal community, what it needs, and how the School of Law can fill that need. As our alumni live out the school’s mission in their vocations and communities, we in turn are helping the School of Law shape future generations of thoughtful, compassionate servant leaders.
What do you like best about being on the alumni board?
This is my second stint on the alumni board. My first term was about 10 years ago when I lived in New Mexico, and at that time I really appreciated being able to stay engaged with the School of Law even though I lived far away. When I moved back to the Twin Cities, serving on the alumni board for a second term was a no-brainer - it was the perfect way to immediately immerse myself in my community and reengage with the Minnesota bar. I love getting to work with alumni who are doing so many cool things and who represent so many different years. Ultimately, serving on the alumni board is such a fulfilling way to give back to the School of Law in gratitude for its impact on my career and life.
What inspires you about our alumni?
From my first day of law school, I admired my classmates for having the vision to choose St. Thomas, to trust that they would get a top-notch education from a brand-new school, and to actively participate in building the community they wanted it to be. All our alumni embody this same spirit of optimism and commitment to being the change they want to see in the world. They are caring, talented, engaged, and making incredible impact in the communities in which they live and work. There are a lot of brilliant attorneys out there, but genuine servant leadership is what sets our alumni apart.
What are your priorities during your year as president?
This past year we spent time meaningfully examining what our board’s role should be and creating infrastructure for how we should operate. During my year as president, we will implement this new structure and keep building on our success.
Is there anything else you want to say to the law alumni community?
My 13-year-old suggested I wrap this up with "You can't spell A-L-U-M-N-I without U!" It’s possible she was making fun of me, but it’s really true. Please feel welcome to reach out with your thoughts and ideas for keeping the School of Law the vibrant community it is. It’s an honor to work with you.