When she took office on January 1, 2011, Yvette McGee Brown became the first African-American female justice on the Ohio Supreme Court. She was also the founding president of the Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children's Hospital and was a judge of the
Franklin County Court of Common Pleas for nine years.
Brown was inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame in 2014. Yvette McGee Brown currently serves as Partner-In-Charge of Diversity, Inclusion & Advancement at the global law firm of Jones Day.
On January 19, 2010, Governor Ted Strickland announced that he had chosen Yvette McGee Brown as his running mate for his second term. The Strickland/Brown ticket lost to John Kasich and his running mate Mary Taylor on November 2, 2010.
Justice Yvette McGee Brown’s journey to the Ohio Supreme Court started in 1992.
“I was 32 and I was chief counsel of the Department of Youth Services and I didn’t like seeing kids locked up, and I felt like I was on the wrong side of the cases because my job was to keep them incarcerated. So I didn’t feel good about that and I thought that if I became a juvenile court judge then I could keep kids from ending up in the system and it was just my way of making a difference,” Justice McGee Brown said.
Justice McGee Brown spent nine years on the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas and another eight off the bench to create the Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital before she was appointed to the Ohio Supreme Court in 2010. As Justice McGee Brown left the Supreme Court in 2012, she reflected on her time on the bench and her career in public service.
“It’s been an amazing two years. I don’t regret it at all. Having a chance to, one, be one of the justices of the Ohio Supreme Court, I’m only the 153rd justice in 208 years, so the ability to be a part of Ohio’s history is very humbling to me. I’ll always remember it, but I think you know, probably the most wonderful thing has been the personal relationships that I have and that I’ll always keep. I found unexpected friendships and I’m going to miss them the most,” Justice McGee Brown said.
“When the governor first talked to me after the 2010 election if I would want to be appointed to the Supreme Court, my initial response was, ‘um, I’m not sure but I don’t think so.’ And then Maureen O’Connor called me on the phone and somehow she heard…she called me to urge me to consider taking the appointment and then Justice Stratton… So they were both very encouraging and then it started to impact me how important this was for people being the first African American woman.”
People across Ohio viewed her appointment as a step forward for diversity.
“There hadn’t been an African American on this court in more than 40 years and so for people across the state that mattered,” Justice McGee Brown said. “The sense of pride in the African American community at me being here was really overwhelming and something I think I didn’t really appreciate and so it was wonderful. That kind of pride and support and good wishes, I mean people were more devastated about this loss than I was.”
While Justice McGee Brown is a role model to hundreds in Ohio’s community, it’s her own grandmother who was hers.
“She always was positive and she always had hope and she always made us believe that anything was possible, so I just admire her so much. I mean I think about her every day.”
Justice McGee Brown said she’ll always remember her time on the Ohio Supreme Court.
“I am sincere when I say I will never regret this experience. It was two magnificent years. This is a really good team of people, and I’m just honored to have been here.”
Watch: Justice McGee Brown talks about her time on the Ohio Supreme Court.