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From Retail to Fundraising, Danker's Career Comes Full Circle at UC


For Ohio native Kim Danker, the College of Law’s new Assistant Director of Development, coming to Cincinnati to work at the law school was a natural step.  Having twice lived in the tri-state over the course of her professional career, she was very familiar with UC. “I’ve always been impressed with the university, its architecture, and its history as a research institution,” said Danker. “And I’m enjoying our new president [Santa Ono]; he really seems to enjoy connecting with students—our future alumni and donors.”

Born and reared in Newark, OH—just 45 minutes east of Columbus—Danker  went to college at The Ohio State University. Her initial career goal was to be a psychologist. “But after the first year I decided I didn’t want to do that,” she laughed. Trying to figure out her career path, Danker began to look toward something she really enjoyed: fashion. This led to a bachelor’s degree in merchandising, with a minor in business. Armed with her degree she began her professional career at Melon's, a women’s discount clothing store in Columbus, eventually transferring to a larger division in Chicago. From Melon's, Danker went to work for Banana Republic. “I had a good time working for them and I enjoyed Chicago,” she said. “But I realized (through her experiences working in retail) that I was in the wrong industry.”  She wanted to do more.

Returning home, Danker went to work for Progressive Insurance as a claims adjuster. “This was in the old days when everything was done by hand,” she said. “We travelled the countryside in a car full of binders with part numbers and such that we manually searched through for customers.” 

Moving South Meant Introduction to the Small Business Market

She married and moved to South Carolina, where she was introduced to the small business market with the Greenville, South Carolina Chamber of Commerce. While at the Chamber, Danker began to learn about the world of non-profits and the unique challenges and opportunities they faced. When the Chamber’s president transferred to the Detroit office, he offered her a position with him. So, Danker and her husband moved to the Detroit Chamber where she was in charge of special events for the Economic Development Department. She had opportunity to work with the Canadian-U.S. Business Association; host golf/professional outings; and plan the Consular Ball, one of the Chamber’s high-profile events, among many other things.

After several years, Danker and her husband returned to the tri-state—he for a position with Procter & Gamble, Danker for a position with the Girl Scouts of America.  Working in product sales and marketing communication positions there helped her hone skills in logistics, particularly as she was part of the team responsible for the all-important cookie distribution.

This led to a position as membership and volunteer supervisor at the Newport Aquarium, where she enjoyed “visiting the penguin exhibit and 'chatting' with the penguins each morning.” The company, however, was impacted by the economy and her department was downsized. This, though, led to a position at local TV station WCET. “I got to meet really cool people like the Irish Tenors and Nick Clooney. It was fun watching them work.”

Honing Skills in Fundraising and Development

Eventually, Danker moved back north to Wilmington, OH, where she worked in the Development Department for Clinton Memorial Hospital. Danker was responsible for fundraising and board training. After several years, and another unfortunate downsizing, she went to work as director of Wilmington’s Chamber of Commerce.  

“I knew that a Chamber membership was a serious investment for many small businesses,” Danker said. I worked hard at providing a business value for their money.” She expanded programming and developed benefit opportunities that made membership a worthwhile value.   

Her next position was at Ferno Washington, manufacturer of emergency patient handling and physical therapy equipment, in the administrative area for the International Sales Division. “I got to work with colleagues from all over the world,” Danker smiled. “Now, I have friends in Japan, Australia, United Kingdom, and France.”

All of these experiences led to her new role at the College of Law. Having developed a deep knowledge of non-profits and small businesses, she understands the challenges of many alums she meets—some working as business entrepreneurs, some working in solo practice.  And she sees opportunity for growth in the law school’s fundraising and in re-establishing relationships with former students. Indeed, Danker sees her role as re-connecting alumni with their alma mater, finding out about their UC Law experience, and hearing why they became interested in law in the first place. That’s a role she enjoys.  

What You Didn’t Know About Kim Danker

  • Favorite Reality Show: Project Runway
  • Two Things on Her Bucket list:
    • Visit Paris
    • Dance a really good Argentine Tango
  • If I didn’t work in Development, I’d be:
    • “At the Cincinnati Art Museum, heading the textiles division specializing in historic costumes; or, in New York with my own design house!

Six Questions with Professor Yolanda Vázquez


Yolanda Vázquez, assistant professor of Law, joined the College this year. She teaches in the areas of immigration, crimmigration, and criminal procedure. Professor Vázquez’ research examines the incorporation of immigration law into the criminal justice system.  Her scholarship has focused on the role of criminal courts and the duties of defense lawyers in advising noncitizen defendants on the immigration consequences of a criminal conviction.  Find out what makes Professor Vázquez “tick” in this edition of “6 Questions With…”

Why did you want to become a lawyer?

I wanted to change the world, or at least the conditions of those less fortunate.  However, I couldn't decide between medical or law school as the way to do it.  I worked in an emergency room while I was deciding between the two and determined that while a doctor can patch you up and even save your life, the individual went back into the same environment as before.  I thought that by being a lawyer I could actually change the conditions of someone's environment.  I don't know if I actually believe that the law can truly change the world or people's circumstances as I did before but I still try, just in case.

What sparked your interest in immigration law?

Honestly, I fell into it.  I was a public defender in a domestic violence courtroom when immigration law changed that made a conviction for domestic violence a deportable offense.  From that time, immigration and criminal law has continued to intersect and, therefore, continued to be a part of my life.

Why did you go into higher education?

Tupac stated, "I'm not saying that I'm gonna change the world…but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world."   I agree.

Who is your favorite lawyer of all time?

I don't have a favorite lawyer.  I have the deepest respect for those line attorneys who truly fight every day for the rights of their client, willing to risk their life and/or liberty for "justice."  Those individuals aren't famous but truly deserve our respect. 

What’s the best part about the law/being a lawyer?

I think it is the worst and the best--The law changes.

What’s on your bucket list?

I want to spend time in the Maldives; in a beautiful hut surrounded by water, lying in a hammock with a good book and no phone or computer.

Joshua Smith '14 Gets a Bird’s Eye View of UC as a Board of Trustees Member


Joshua Smith arrived at Ohio University in the fall of 2006 intending to pursue a degree in education.  Smith switched to political science/pre-law as a sophomore, however, realizing he wanted to attend law school down the road.

“I always liked the idea of representing someone and the court system always amazes me, along with the entire legal system,” said Smith, a native of Westerville, a northeast Columbus suburb.

He didn’t graduate until 2011, but it was not because he needed a fifth year of classes to graduate.  Rather, he spent a year deployed in Bagram, Afghanistan as a United States Army Military Police Officer.

Smith spent the spring of 2008 and that summer following his sophomore year in basic training, as part of becoming a soldier in the U.S. Army Reserves 447th MP CO. He returned to the Athens, Ohio, campus for his junior year, but spent July 2009 through July 2010 in Afghanistan.

“It really was a great experience,” Smith said. “It’s kind of an adventure in a way. You’re going to a country you know nothing about.”

Smith said his year in Afghanistan went by “really fast,” and he made some of his best friends there. During the first half of the deployment, he did basic security operations, manning guard towers and doing patrols around the base. The second half involved detainee operations, doing a lot of prison work.

After returning from Afghanistan, Smith returned to OU for his final year of school, where he became president of his fraternity, Phi Kappa Tau. He received a national award for “Outstanding President” for that 2010-11 year.

Joining the UC Law Family

The 2011 OU graduate was attracted to the College of Law for a number of reasons as a prospective student, including the small class sizes. Since enrolling at the College of Law, the current 2L has been impressed by the faculty.

“I’m working with Professor (Sandra) Sperino right now on an individual research project. I took her Employment Law class and Civil Procedure II and enjoyed her as a professor,” Smith said. “I’m also in Professor (Felix) Chang’s Agency class, and also enjoy him as a professor.”

Smith is a member of Moot Court and will be one of two directors of its intramural competition next fall. He also participated in Student Court as a 1L, where he and some of his peers represented UC students in disputing parking tickets. It was through this activity that Smith made an interesting connection, one that led him to a position that no other student on the entire campus holds: graduate student trustee on the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees.

“I actually represented the Graduate Student Governance Association’s president in Student Court,” Smith said. “She liked me enough that she thought I would do a good job at that position and told me to apply for it.”

Being a Member of UC’s Board of Trustees is a Big Responsibility

After submitting his resume last April and participating in a phone interview of sorts during the summer, Smith was offered the position for a two-year term.  “It was kind of a shock to me,” said Smith, who is joined by an undergraduate student as the non-voting members of the Board.

Smith attends public Board of Trustees meetings every two months. While not a voting member, he is still asked for input and gives a report every two months on the entire graduate body – the College of Law, the College of Medicine and the other graduate programs. He also serves on subcommittees as well, including the Academic and Student Affairs Committee, as well as the Finance and Administration Committee.

In this first term, which dates back to August, Smith was involved with a number of issues and happenings, including the appointment of President Santa J. Ono in October.

Outside of school, Smith is a law clerk at the Law Office of Marc Mezibov. He also spent last summer as a judicial extern for Judge Sandra S. Beckwith in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

Smith is an avid sports fan and he made his first Great American Ball Park appearance of the season on April 5, when the Cincinnati Reds beat the Washington Nationals 15-0.  The Westerville North High School graduate will be living in Columbus this summer and hopes to play in some pick-up rugby games with his former high school teammates.

By Jordan Cohen, ‘13

2012 Harris Distinguished Practitioner Scott Knox


Date: April 22, 2013
Time: 12:10 p.m.
Location: Room 118

Scott Knox has a masters degree in Industrial Hygiene/Environmental Health from the University of Cincinnati Medical College and a law degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Law. His practice focuses substantially on representing clients on GLBT legal issues, estate planning, and Social Security Disability/SSI claims, including appeals into Federal Court.

Among other community involvement, he has served on the Greater Cincinnati HIV/AIDS Mental Health Provider Education Program as an instructor in legal and ethical issues of HIV/AIDS; Greater Cincinnati HIV Prevention Community Planning Group; Hospice of Miami Valley/VITAS Red Ribbon Team community advisory committee for people with HIV; Volunteer Lawyers For The Poor; board of Caracole, Inc., which provides housing, housing assistance, and case management for people with HIV; and AIDS Volunteers of Cincinnati as a lecturer to staff/volunteers/HIV challenged people/workplaces on legal issues.  He has presented many seminars on HIV and disability issues for groups including health departments, legal bar associations, medical associations, social workers, and AIDS service organizations.   He is currently on the boards of Equality Cincinnati, Strategies to End Homelessness, and the Cincinnati Citizen Complaint Authority.

Knox has received the Community Service Award from the Cincinnati Bar Association; the Tom Zeitz Memorial Award from AIDS Volunteers of Cincinnati, a Certificate of Outstanding Community Service in recognition of legal work done for people with HIV from University of Cincinnati College of Medicine/Infectious Diseases Center and University of Cincinnati Hospital; the 2008 Human Rights Campaign, Cincinnati Chapter Leadership Award in recognition of legal work within the Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender communities; the 2009 Caracole, Inc. Living Award for work done towards Caracole’s mission of providing safe, affordable housing and supportive services for individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS; and the 2011 Dr. Peter T. Frame Humanitarian Award from the Cincinnati Health Network for pro bono legal work for people with physical and mental challenges.  He was named one of Lawyers Weekly U.S.A.’s ten national Attorneys of the Year for 2002 and was Cincinnati CityBeat magazine’s Best Lawyer for 2011 and 2012.

Professor Kristin Kalsem : Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award Lecturer


Professor Kristin Kalsem is the recipient of the 2012 Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award, which recognizes outstanding research and scholarly achievement by a member of the faculty of the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

Professor Kalsem received her J.D. with Honors from the University of Chicago Law School in 1987 and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Iowa in 2001, where she also served as a member of their English Department and a lecturer at their law school. Professor Kalsem has been an influential scholar in women and the law since joining our faculty in 2001. She also serves as co-director of the College’s Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice and a co-director of the joint degree program in law and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies.

In her 2012 book, In Contempt: Nineteenth-Century Women, Law, and Literature (Ohio State University Press), Professor Kalsem brings together law, literature, and feminism to illuminate how 19th century women writers advocated legal issues in their literary works and lives as authors. The book is an important interdisciplinary accomplishment befitting the recognition of the Schott Award. In the book, Professor Kalsem reveals and details a wealth of suppressed evidence of 19th century women’s feminist jurisprudence (“outlaw texts,” as she identifies them), casting new light on history and introducing useful new ways to see the performance of feminist jurisprudence in law and literature. Christine Krueger, professor of English at Marquette University, is among those who have praised the book, noting that “Kristin Kalsem’s In Contempt makes a significant contribution to scholarship on the history of feminist jurisprudence. She covers thorny legal issues including married women’s property, infanticide, and lunacy law, as well as birth control, imperialism, and women’s admission to the bar. In her afterword she urges scholars to engage the ‘new evidence’ she has brought to light—and I have no doubt that this evidence will be welcomed enthusiastically.”

She is a teacher and scholar who is firmly dedicated to bridging theory and practice. That determination is fully evident in In Contempt– as it is, too, in her articleSocial Justice Feminism, 18 UCLA Women’s Law Journal 131 (2010) (with Professor Verna L. Williams), which inspired a conference last fall that brought scholars and activists

Professor Kalsem will deliver a public lecture on her scholarship here at the College of Law during the Fall 2013 semester. Until then, please join me in warmly congratulating Professor Kristin Kalsem for this well-deserved recognition.

Professor Kristin Kalsem named 2012 Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award Recipient


Congratulations to Professor Kristin Kalsem who has been named the recipient of the 2012 Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award. The award recognizes outstanding research and scholarly achievement by a member of the faculty of the University of Cincinnati College of Law. She will deliver a public lecture on her scholarship here at the College of Law during the Fall 2013 semester.  

Professor Kalsem received her J.D. with Honors from the University of Chicago Law School in 1987 and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Iowa in 2001, where she also served as a member of their English Department and a lecturer at their law school.  Professor Kalsem has been an influential scholar in women and the law since joining the law faculty in 2001.  She also serves as co-director of the Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice and a co-director of the joint degree program in law and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies.

In her 2012 book, In Contempt: Nineteenth-Century Women, Law, and Literature, Professor Kalsem brings together law, literature, and feminism to illuminate how 19th century women writers advocated legal issues in their literary works and lives as authors.  In the book, Kalsem details a wealth of suppressed evidence of 19th century women’s feminist jurisprudence (“outlaw texts,” as she identifies them), casting new light on history and introducing useful new ways to see the performance of feminist jurisprudence in law and literature. 

Kalsem is a teacher and scholar who is firmly dedicated to bridging theory and practice.  This is  evident in In Contempt – as it is, too, in her article Social Justice Feminism, 18 UCLA Women’s Law Journal 131 (2010) (with Professor Verna L. Williams), which inspired a conference last fall that brought scholars and activists from around the nation to Cincinnati to explore new ways of understanding and doing feminist work today and into the future.

Professor Kalsem’s scholarly record is complemented by her outstanding teaching accomplishments here at the College, where she has twice received the Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

Sapphire Diamant-Rink ’11


Sapphire Diamant-Rink ’11As a Morgan Fellow I furthered my education with unique and invaluable experiences. Growing up on the Blackfeet Reservation, I have always had a passion for the rights of Native Americans and indigenous peoples everywhere. This, as well as a fascination with comparative law, led me to the Urban Morgan Institute at UC. My time as a clerk at the High Court of Botswana working with their parallel traditional tribal legal system, as well as my fellowship at the Indian Law Resource Center in my home state of Montana, allowed me to narrow my focus and gave depth to my understanding of the human rights issues involved. I was one of the four applicants chosen for the Honors Program at the Office of the Solicitor in the U.S. Department of the Interior. Following completion of that program, I am now an Attorney-Advisor in the U.S. Department of the Interior for the Division of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C., where I focus on Indian water rights, tribal government, trust responsibility and a variety of other Indian law matters.

Jesse Jenike-Godshalk '11 works at Dinsmore & Shohl


Jesse Jenike-Godshalk '11Columbus, OHIO (Feb. 4, 2013) –Cincinnati attorney Jesse Jenike-Godshalk is embracing the opportunity to give back by volunteering for the Spina Bifida Coalition of Cincinnati (SBCCincy) and his alma mater.

Jenike-Godshalk first became involved with SBCCincy at the urging of his wife Katie, a nurse practitioner who is a member of the SBCCincy board and works with teens and adults who have developmental disorders such as spina bifida. He attends board meetings and volunteers at fundraising events like the SBCCincy’s yearly Walk & Roll.

“Charitable organizations such as SBCCincy cannot afford to pay a large, full-time workforce, so volunteers are important for their continued operation,” Jenike-Godshalk said. “I believe in what the organization is doing, and I am happy to help meet the need it has for volunteer labor.”

In that same spirit of giving, Jenike-Godshalk volunteers as a mentor at his alma mater, the University of Cincinnati College of Law. He advises current members of the University of Cincinnati Law Review on everything from how to write a good comment for the publication to how to find a job.

“I enjoy helping others repeat the successes that I have had—while helping them to avoid failures,” he said. “I feel satisfied and fulfilled knowing that I am helping others do well in law school.” One of his informal mentees is his sister-in-law Elizabeth Thoman, a U.C. law student who is expected to graduate in 2015.

Jenike-Godshalk became a member of the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) in 2008 while attending law school, and he recently became a member of the OSBA Young Lawyers Section Council. He is an associate in the intellectual property department at Dinsmore & Shohl LLP in Cincinnati and focuses his practice on patent litigation—prosecuting infringers of his clients’ patents and also defending clients who have been accused of infringement. Identifying what he enjoys most about his career, Jenike-Godshalk said, “I enjoy the variability of the work. No one day is like another, and I’m constantly learning new skills and new areas of the law.”

It was through Dinsmore & Shohl that he became involved with United Way Emerging Leaders, a program that provides young professionals with opportunities to network, develop leadership skills and give back to the community. Jenike-Godshalk said that his firm encourages its associates to give to the United Way, and commented, “I felt this program was a great way to make a donation while developing my leadership skills to make me a better attorney and member of my community.”

The OSBA, founded in 1880, is a voluntary association representing approximately 25,000 members of the bench and bar of Ohio as well as nearly 4,000 legal assistants and law students. Through its activities and the activities of its related organizations, the OSBA serves both its members and the public by promoting the highest standards in the practice of law and the administration of justice.

Kate Pongonis Escorts Supreme Court Justice Anthony Breyer During His Visit to South Africa


South Africa Constitutional Court Judges Lounge Photo November 16, 2012:  (from left to right) Justice Edwin Cameron, U.S. Ambassador Donald Gips, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, Justice Stephen Breyer, Justice van der Westhuizen

Justice Stephen Breyer, as part of the Pritzker Prize Jury, toured the Constitutional Court of South Africa on November 16. The group was hosted by Justice Johan van der Westhuizen and Justice Edwin Cameron. The tour of the court included an explanation of the history of the site, the architecture of the building, and the Court's art collection by Constitutional Court Trust Art Curator Stacey Vorster.Following the tour, the Court hosted an informal luncheon for the Jury and Jury members had a chance to meet Constitutional Court Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. Justice Breyer had a pull aside with Justices Mogoeng, van der Westhuizen, Cameron, and U.S. Ambassador Donald Gips.

Kate Pognosis with Supreme Court Justice Anthony  Breyer

3L Casey Kirchberg Shares His ECDC Experience in CBA Report


Third year law student Casey Kirchberg had the opportunity to share his experience as a fellow with the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic (ECDC) with local bar association members. His story about what he has learned is featured in the April 2013 issue of the CBA Report.  Read the story here.