Rhonda Moore ’87 is an alumna who can speak about effectively navigating the dual legal worlds of the public and private sector. As a partner in a local law firm to her current role as executive director of a non-profit organization, Moore’s professional experiences have run the gamut.
Originally from Willard, a small town in northern Ohio, she graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in psychology. After moving to Cincinnati, she managed convenience stores in the tri-state for three years before deciding upon law school. She had always been interested in the law and valued the opportunities a law degree would provide for her. Since UC Law was nearby and learning of its strong reputation, it became the best choice for her.
Although the idea of working in a public interest field was a possibility, Moore did not enter law school with a set career path in mind. During her summers in law school, she clerked at two law firms; in her first summer she worked on workers compensation claims in a small law firm, and during her second summer she clerked at what was then Frost & Jacobs (now Frost, Brown, Todd, LLC). Following law school graduation, Moore returned to Frost for three years. She then went to Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP, where she stayed for 11 years, rising to partner. While there, Moore did significant work on estate planning and administration.
Then nine years ago, Moore left Graydon Head & Ritchey and began working at Pro Seniors as its executive director. Pro Seniors is a non-profit organization that provides free legal and long-term care help to older adults. “I really enjoyed working at the firm and liked the people I worked with,” said Moore. “ But I felt that working in public interest and for a mission-based organization would give me the opportunity to fulfill other goals.” Moore was particularly interested in Pro Seniors because she had done a lot of work with elderly clients at the law firm and had found the work very meaningful. Pro Seniors was a perfect fit for her.
What is Pro Seniors?
Pro Seniors, in operation since 1975, is the only organization in Ohio that specifically focuses on providing specialized legal assistance to seniors. The organization’s mission is to assist seniors—people over the age of 60—in resolving and preventing legal and long-term care problems. In particular, Pro Seniors offers a statewide legal hotline, which seniors can utilize to get legal advice and information over the phone. Through this hotline, Pro Seniors serves close to 6,000 seniors every year. The staff attorneys also represent clients, particularly low-income seniors facing problems such as housing difficulties, problems obtaining public benefits like Medicaid, and others. Pro Seniors’ focus on these particular issues allows the attorneys to develop a high level of expertise in areas such as Medicaid. In addition to the legal assistance the organization provides, it also has a Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, in which representatives advocate for seniors residing in long-term care facilities.
In her role as executive director, Moore serves as an administrator of the non-profit organization. She commented that overseeing a non-profit is like running a small business, and she likened her role to that of a CEO. Much of her job involves applying for funding and reporting to funders in order to fulfill the organization’s accountability requirements. She works closely with and reports to the Board of Trustees and its committees on various aspects of the organization, including financial issues. Moore also does a lot of work on the organization’s contracts, in addition to purchasing and personnel matters.
Outside of work, Moore is involved in the local bar association, and serves on several of its committees. She likes to travel, cook, and work in the garden, although she admits that she does not get to enjoy these activities as much as she may like. “People sometimes seem to think that working in public interest means working fewer hours,” she said, “but my job now requires just as many hours as I was working at the law firm.”
Moore says that working at a non-profit organization is more challenging than she had originally expected, but that it is extremely rewarding. “I am very happy with my decision to switch to public interest,” she said. She also wanted to stress to law students the importance of considering all of the different options available to them when choosing a job. She elaborated, “Working at a non-profit, especially one aimed at providing legal services to seniors, can be a really great legal career.”
To contact Rhonda Moore, call 513/345-4160.
Lindsay Mather '11