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Oliver McGee, III

Civil engineer and academic administrator, Oliver G. McGee III, graduated from the The Ohio State University (OSU) in 1981 with his B.S. degree in civil engineering. McGee went on to earn advanced degrees from the University of Arizona, receiving his M.S. degree in civil engineering and his Ph.D. degree in engineering mechanics and aerospace engineering in 1983 and 1988, respectively. He was a graduate teaching associate in the department of civil engineering and engineering mechanics, while attending the University of Arizona. From 1986 to 1988, McGee worked as a senior research associate at OSU. In 2004, McGee earned his M.B.A. degree in business administration and finance from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
 
In 1997, McGee was appointed senior policy analyst in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the Executive Office of the U.S. President. In 1988, McGee began teaching at OSU as an assistant professor of civil engineering and engineering mechanics. In 1992, McGee became the first African American faculty to be promoted to associate professor with tenure in the century and a quarter year history of OSU’s engineering college. He then became, in 1992, associate professor of civil and aerospace engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. Along the way, he served in a number of visiting professorships at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), including the first opening class of MIT’s Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professors. Later, McGee was promoted to full professor and chair of the Department of Civil Engineering & Geodetic Science in 2001, becoming the first African-American full professor and chair in the 150-year history of OSU’s engineering college. Between 1999 and 2001 McGee served as the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of transportation for technology policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and special assistant to the President at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Howard University hired McGee as the school's very first vice president for research and compliance in 2007. Under his leadership, the new office raised the profile of the Howard principal investigator, launched the first-ever research communications documents Research at The Capstone, and constructed a new central management for research facility at Howard University’s C. B. Powell Building, adjacent to the school’s Louis B. Stokes Science Library.
 
For his research and education initiatives, McGee has been awarded grants totaling more than $8 million. In 2007, he founded the Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm, Partnership Possibilities for America. The firm’s concepts on education, economics, and politics are covered in a number of McGee’s many books and publications. In 2012, he submitted three books for publication, including Bridging the Black Research Gap, available online through Amazon Create Space and Revilo Group Publishing, L.L.C. McGee has authored more than 50 articles appearing in academic journals such as, ASME Journal of Turbomachinery, ASME Journal of Fluids Engineering, ASME Journal of Applied Mechanics, International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering, International Journal of Solids and Structures, ASCE Journal of Engineering Mechanics, and Civil Engineering Systems. For his contributions, McGee has been honored by numerous organizations, including the American Council on Education (ACE), American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), National Science Foundation (NSF), and National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA).
 
Oliver G. McGee III was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 11, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.235

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/11/2012

Last Name

McGee

Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

George

Schools

The Ohio State University

University of Arizona School of Law

Woodward Career Technical High School

University of Chicago

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

First Name

Oliver

Birth City, State, Country

Cincinnati

HM ID

MCG05

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cambridge, England

Favorite Quote

Our Words Create Our World.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

10/28/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Houston

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Salmon

Short Description

Civil engineer and engineering professor Oliver McGee, III (1957 - ) was the former chair of the Civil & Environmental Engineering & Geodetic Science Department at The Ohio State University. McGee was also a full professor of mechanical engineering in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Howard University.

Employment

White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

United States Department of Transportation

Ohio State University

Howard University

Georgia Institute of Technology

United Negro College Fund

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Favorite Color

Mulatto

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Oliver McGee's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Oliver McGee lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Oliver McGee talks about his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Oliver McGee talks about his sister's artistry

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Oliver McGee talks about his interest in learning more about his family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Oliver McGee talks about his mother's upbringing and her passion for education

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Oliver McGee talks about his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Oliver McGee talks about his paternal great-grandfather's relation to Sitting Bull and his interest in learning more about his ancestry

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Oliver McGee talks about Cincinnati Woodward High School

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Oliver McGee talks about how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Oliver McGee talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Oliver McGee talks about his likeness to his mother, her influence on him, and her career at the University of Cincinnati

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Oliver McGee describes his earliest childhood memory and talks about his father's career as a fireman in Cincinnati, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Oliver McGee talks about his elementary school teachers and his early aptitude in math

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Oliver McGee talks about his struggles with reading as a child and how he overcame it

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Oliver McGee describes his childhood neighborhood, his interest in classical music, and the culture of Cincinnati, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Oliver McGee describes the sights, sounds and smells of Cincinnati, Ohio and talks about his mentors

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Oliver McGee talks about his academic performance in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Oliver McGee talks about race relations in Cincinnati, Ohio during his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Oliver McGee talks about his parents' difficult relationship, their divorce, and his decision to live with his mother

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Oliver McGee reflects on the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Kennedy family

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Oliver McGee talks about improving his reading skills, starting high school, and his mother's parenting and influence

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Oliver McGee talks about witnessing domestic violence during his childhood and the importance of perseverance

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Oliver McGee talks about his high school geometry teacher and learning Euclidean Geometry

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Oliver McGee talks about his experience as a drum major at Ohio State University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Oliver McGee talks about his high school band and his musical interests

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Oliver McGee talks about his high school math preparation

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Oliver McGee talks about the demographics of Woodward High School

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Oliver McGee reflects on his high school counseling, his concerns about education policy, and his concerns for the education of future generations

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Oliver McGee talks about his job at McDonald's and his mother's aspirations for him

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Oliver McGee talks about his decision to attend The Ohio State University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Oliver McGee talks about Minnie McGee's influence on his decision to major in engineering at The Ohio State University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Oliver McGee talks about the history of drum majors and the band at The Ohio State University and his experience as an understudy to Dwight Hudson

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Oliver McGee talks about football and his experience as a drum major at The Ohio State University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Oliver McGee talks about his professors and his experience in the engineering department at The Ohio State University

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Oliver McGee talks about meeting Dr. Julian Manly Earls and his mentors at the NASA Lewis Research Center and the University of Arizona

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Oliver McGee talks about his dissertation

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Oliver McGee talks about the relevance of his doctoral research on the field today and the goals of scientific research

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Oliver McGee talks about adjusting to the environment in Arizona

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Oliver McGee talks about African Americans pursuing careers in academia

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Oliver McGee talks about his experience teaching at The Ohio State University

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Oliver McGee talks about his professional awards and his appointment to the faculty at the Georgia Institute of Technology

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Oliver McGee talks about Charles Vent's influence on his appointment to the White House Fellows Program

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Oliver McGee talks about being appointed as a White House Fellow

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Oliver McGee talks about his experience as a White House Fellow and his interest in science policy

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Oliver McGee talks about his research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his mentee, Keith Coleman

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Oliver McGee talks about meeting Bob Nash and his influence on his appointment to the Department of Transportation

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Oliver McGee reflects on his experience serving in the White House and talks about the people who were instrumental in his career there

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Oliver McGee talks about leaving the White House, his decision to study business, and his experience at the Wharton School

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Oliver McGee talks about his experience at the University of Chicago

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Oliver McGee talks about his book, "Jumping the Aisle: How I Became a Black Republican in the Age of Obama"

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Oliver McGee talks about graduating from the University Of Chicago Booth School Of Business

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Oliver McGee talks about his interest in philanthropy

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Oliver McGee talks about his experience teaching at Howard University

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Oliver McGee talks about his desire to become a university president

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Oliver McGee reflects on his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Oliver McGee talks about his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Oliver McGee reflects on his life choices and talks about his family and friends

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Oliver McGee talks about his books

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Oliver McGee talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Oliver McGee describes his photos

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

9$6

DATitle
Oliver McGee talks about his experience as a White House Fellow and his interest in science policy
Oliver McGee talks about his book, "Jumping the Aisle: How I Became a Black Republican in the Age of Obama"
Transcript
Okay. Now, what--can you choose what kind of duty you would perform at the White House as a Fellow or did they have certain categories for you?$$You do have to answer the questions in the essays, "What would you like to do as a White House Fellow?" And I had expressed that I'd like to work for the president's science advisor. I wanted to do some work I science policy and, you know, and that was inspired by what Chuck Vest would inspire me on, the public understanding of science at the time, and making science understanding--helpful for society, and give back to society. We do our work and our calculus in our laboratories, but it's got to be useful for society. So that was my focus. And the top 30 national finalists' interview was at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. And you go there for about two or three days. They give you this big, giant matrix where they're interviewing all of the commissioners of the White House Fellows Commission. And the reason they choose 30 is because they're actually selecting about 14 or 15 final fellows. And typically, they choose three or four of those from the military, because Johnson actually formed his fellowship from the military. He wanted to have the military complex to understand the policy side of government, and that's why he formed this White House fellowship. So, they typically have, you know, military folks going through. And they have sort of like a two of a kind, two of every kind, like in Noah's ark. And that was my first experience of being like a "reality" television program, "The Apprentice" or you might say whatever television shows you see in that, you know, that thing that you see on television where they're going through. So we were like Noah's ark; two of every kind. And so, they had two scientists; me and a young lady from Minnesota. And we just kind of raced our way through that for two or three days. And it was an endurance match. You see if you can keep up with the endurance and last. And I was doing so fine, and then I got confused in the matrix one day, I missed one of my interviews. And that interview was with the one renowned Roger Porter, who was Bush One's Economic and Domestic Policy Advisor. I got mixed up, a matrix, and I got the wrong time, and he was sitting where and saying, "Where's Oliver?" (laughs). Of course, Larry, I was bounced out (laughs). But I'm pretty sure it's part of the discussion, you know. I learned a valuable lesson that you have to be on time and time is a very important thing in life. It was a very important lesson I had to learn. Still learning it. But I want to share with the young people. Watch your time.$$Okay. So, you didn't get a chance to be--now, okay, what. You didn't get a chance to serve as a White House Intern.$$That's right. I didn't get selected.$$Right.$$Along the way, I had the help of Uncle Chuck. He was disappointed. He said, "Oh, well, I'm sorry about that, Oliver. You got to learn a valuable lesson on that." And then he--two weeks later, I got a call from John Deutch, who was the Deputy Secretary of Defense, and Ernie Moniz, who was the Undersecretary of Science in the White House Science Office. And they wanted for me to meet in their offices at MIT. Ernie Moniz was the chair of the physics department, and John Deutch was a faculty member of the physics department. And those were two of the most momentous meetings I've ever had at that time in my career. John Deutch was a wonderful gentleman. Very, very soft spoken; very stately. His office was a highly decorated place of plaques from presidents dating back to Nixon. And he's been on so many boards and commissions. And he just simply looked at my resume and he asked me one question: "Oliver, why do you want to serve?"$$And (unclear) (simultaneous).$$And I told him, "I want to serve because I want to make a difference. I want to make a difference in science and technology. I want to understand science policies so we can increase the public's understanding of science. It's a very simple answer." And he said, "Thank you." And then I spoke with Ernie Moniz afterwards and he gave me a book on "Science with a National Interest," that he had wrote for President Clinton. And he said, "What do you think of this?" And we went over it and talked about it, and we talked about the issues in it. And it was a very delightful interview. And then two weeks later I got a call from the White House from Daryl Chubin. He said, "Hello. I'm the Assistant Director for Science and we've been looking at your background here, and we would like for you to come and talk with us, and the President's Science Advisor would like to have a conversation with you." After I picked my jaw up off of the floor, I flew to Washington and had a day of interviews in the White House Science Office. It was--wonderful people. Wonderful people. Daryl Chubin and Bev Hartline and Arthur Bienenstock, who is in the upper administration at Stanford [University], and Duncan Moore. The science advisor was Jack Gibbons. I met Cynthia Chase, who was the secretary; and Donna Coleman. And they had a White House intern named James Bucksbaum (ph. splg.). And we all had lunch and everything. And then the two--oh, I'd say about a week later, they said, "When can you join us? We like you."$Now, what's the name of your latest book?$$"Jumping The Aisle: How I Became a Black Republican in the Age of Obama."$$Okay. Okay.$$That's a rhetorical question.$$Yes (laughs).$$It's really about belief in America. It's not about yea or nay or any candidate or anything like. Most people were looking at the book, "Why you're writing about America?" I find America fascinating under the [President Barack] Obama Era. You know, when we elected the first black president, we made America interesting. Whether you're for him or against him, you got to understand the ride is fun, and we're paying attention. And that's what black leadership does. We're so innovative when we do it. We have to be creative. We have to be nimble. We have to try and test things. Some things work, some things do not. We have to listen. We have to be able to mend our mistakes. We got to keep trying. And then we have to know when to step down. Because everything we're doing is history. So America is interesting under the Obama because it's about history. So I wrote a book about that, respecting the history and showing the way, and then looking to a future on getting to 2076. And those are wonderful principles of leadership learned from Mike Eusem (ph. splg.) at Wharton School in his leadership course. Oh, Mike Eusem. Mike Eusem had us climbing a tree to learn leadership at Wharton. When I went through that course, I was wondering, "Why are we climbing a tree?" But he was teaching us how leadership is dependent on those who are under you, as well as those who are pulling you up. The Age of Obama is doing that now. Valerie Jarrett, one of your HistoryMakers is doing that now. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are doing that now. The American people are doing that now. Because we're doing leadership and making the decision, independent decision.

The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown

Ohio State Justice Yvette McGee Brown was born in Columbus Ohio to Sylvia Kendrick on July 1, 1960. After graduating from Columbus, Ohio’s Mifflin High School, McGee Brown attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. She graduated with her B.S. degree in journalism from Ohio University in 1982. Three years later, McGee Brown graduated from Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law with her J.D. degree in law. In 1992, McGee Brown was elected to the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations and Juvenile division. As lead Juvenile Court Judge, she led the creation of the Family Drug Court and the SMART Program, a truancy and educational neglect intervention program. After nine years on the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, she retired from the bench to create the Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, a multi-disciplinary child abuse and family violence program. In 2008, McGee Brown was also elected to the Ohio Elections Commission. After serving as founding president for the Center for Child and Family Advocacy, McGee Brown became a candidate for lieutenant governor of Ohio, tabbed by then Governor Ted Strickland in 2010. Strickland appointed her to the Ohio Supreme Court after losing his gubernatorial bid. McGee Brown became the first African American woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court of Ohio.

An active community and corporate leader, Justice McGee Brown has served on the boards of Ohio University, The Ohio State University Medical Center, the National Council of the OSU Moritz College of Law, M/I Homes Inc. and Fifth Third Bank of Central Ohio. She is the former chair of the United Way of Central Ohio, The Ohio State University Alumni Association and the YWCA Columbus Board of Directors. In 2008, Justice McGee Brown was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame. Among her many honors, she has received the Champion of Children Award, YWCA Woman of Achievement Award and several honors from Ohio University and The Ohio State University.

Justice McGee Brown is married to Tony Brown. They have three children and one grandson.

Justice Yvette McGee Brown was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 6, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.087

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/6/2012

Last Name

McGee Brown

Maker Category
Schools

The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

Ohio University

Mifflin High School

Mifflin Middle School

Fairwood Alternative Elementary School

South Mifflin Elementary School

First Name

Yvette

Birth City, State, Country

Columbus

HM ID

MCG02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Favorite Quote

It Doesn't Matter Where You Started In Life; It Matters Where You End.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Interview Description
Birth Date

7/1/1960

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Columbus

Country

USA

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

State supreme court judge The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown (1960 - ) was the first African American woman to serve on the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas and the Supreme Court of Ohio. She also founded the Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Columbus Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Employment

Supreme Court of Ohio

Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children's Hospital

Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations and Juvenile Division

Ohio Attorney General's Office

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown talks about her maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her mother's experiences as a single mother

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her relationship with her father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers meeting her half-sister

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her likeness to her parents

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Browns talks about her mother's marriages

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown recalls her mother's diagnosis with Guillain-Barre syndrome

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers visiting her maternal grandparents' home

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her schooling

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers Mifflin High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown recalls the political climate of the late 1970s

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers interviewing Judge Robert Morton Duncan

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her early aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers studying journalism at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her mentors at Ohio University

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown talks about her experiences at Ohio University

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown recalls her decision to attend The Ohio State University College of Law in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Yvette McGee Brown remembers The Ohio State University College of Law in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Yvette McGee Brown remembers joining the Ohio attorney general's office

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Yvette McGee Brown talks about Judge Lillian W. Burke

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Yvette McGee Brown describes her career at the Ohio attorney general's office

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Yvette McGee Brown recalls implementing consent decrees in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Yvette McGee Brown remembers her decision to pursue a county judgeship

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Yvette McGee Brown remembers her election as a judge in Franklin County, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Yvette McGee Brown describes her judgeship at the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Yvette McGee Brown describes her judgeship at the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown talks about the juvenile court system

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers the O.J. Simpson trial

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers meeting her husband

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes the Student Mediation and Assistance to Reduce Truancy program

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes the Family Drug Court at the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes the Center for Child and Family Advocacy in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown reflects upon her early judicial career

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers serving on the Ohio Elections Commission

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown recalls her decision to become Ohio Governor Ted Strickland's running mate

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers Governor Ted Strickland's reelection campaign

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown recalls her appointment to the Supreme Court of Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown talks about her colleagues on the Supreme Court of Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown talks about her speaking engagements

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown talks about her casework on the Supreme Court of Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her family

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes how she would like to be remembered

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Yvette McGee Brown recalls implementing consent decrees in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes the Center for Child and Family Advocacy in Columbus, Ohio
Transcript
What did the court order the--$$The department [Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction] to do?$$Yeah (unclear) (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Well, the department at that time was deemed to be discriminatory from race and sex. And the court, the federal court [U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio] had ordered the Ohio Penitentiary closed. The Ohio Penitentiary used to sit in what is now called the Arena District in Columbus [Ohio]. It was this huge prison that had been built in the 1800s. And the federal district--the federal courts had declared that it was cruel and unusual to have inmates inhabit that facility. So, it had to be closed and, ultimately, it was torn down. At the time, I came to the department we had been accused of race discrimination for not promoting African Americans, and not just in employment, but in how we dealt with inmates. We had a caste system inside the prison department where white inmates got cells, and black inmates got dormitories. And so, part of my responsibility was to help develop and write policies, and then train the wardens and the staff on how this was going to happen. It was very interesting to me because I would meet with the wardens, and they were very opposed to housing black and white inmates together. They were like, "You don't understand, they will not live together." And I looked at them and I said, "Oh, we don't let inmates choose any part of their existence. We don't let them choose what they're going to wear, what they're going to eat, when they go to the bathroom, what time they get up, and suddenly, we're going to let them choose who they live with? This is prison. These are your issues. We're going to assign cells based on security levels, and not based on race." But, oh, my gosh, it was so hard. And then, the other case we had was a serious case of sex discrimination. They would not allow women to work as correctional officers in maximum security prisons because, apparently, women are so weak, they would have sex with the inmates. And a woman couldn't get promoted to be a warden if she didn't have maximum security experience. So, the, the duplicity of their argument, though, is that, at the same time, they were prosecuting and--or, excuse me, defending a case as to why women couldn't work in maximum security prisons, we had men working in the female prison. And we had female inmates actually getting pregnant. And nobody was saying that men couldn't work in Marysville [Ohio Reformatory for Women, Marysville, Ohio] so, of course, we lost that case. And I can remember sitting with this old warden. His name is Arnold Jago [ph.]. And Arnold Jago, he used to call me Gal, 'cause Arnold was sixty-five years old. And he looks like what you would think a warden would look like, and he would say to me, "Gal, we are not letting women into this prison." And I said, "Warden, yes, you are. Women are going to work in this prison. That is what the federal court has ordered." And I had his supervisor with me who said to him, "Arnold, either women start working in this prison, or you're not going to be the warden anymore." So, it was a fascinating practice for somebody who was only twenty-seven years old.$$Yeah, it does. It sounds like a fascinating--Ohio State Pen, as you described it, was used as a model for a draconian prison in 'The Shawshank Redemption' (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) It was, that was Mansfield.$$Oh, Mansfield?$$The Mansfield Correctional [Ohio State Reformatory, Mansfield, Ohio], yeah, 'cause that one is Mansfield, and I've been there several times. It, it was the only prison in the country that was built six tiers high, solid concrete. It was so noisy, like you could hear yourself as you would walk through. You hear every step you take, and the noise was deafening. Oh, my god, if they even started talking, they, and because they were stacked straight on top of each other, you have somebody on tier six yelling down to somebody on tier four, you would lose your mind. I don't know how people didn't go crazy in there. It was the loudest, most difficult prison to operate.$$Okay.$$And that was where 'Shawshank' was filmed.$$Okay. And I always thought it was Ohio Pen--$$Yeah, the Ohio Pen was, I think, gone or, or pretty decrepit by that time.$$I think they shot something before they knocked it down (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh, they probably--oh, 'Cool Hand Luke' maybe? Yeah, they did do, they did several movies at the Ohio Pen because to see it, you're right. It was pretty draconian looking, yeah. And then, there was that infamous fire there where several inmates died and, yeah, it was a bad place.$$Okay. Okay. So, you were trying to implement the federal consent, consent decree, and--$$We had several, yeah. We were being sued all the time (laughter).$What happened when you left the court [Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Division of Domestic Relations and Juvenile Branch]? (Unclear).$$Well, I left the court to go over to Nationwide Children's Hospital [Columbus Children's Hospital; Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio] because I was in the middle of my second term. The second time I ran, they did not run anybody against me, so people were shocked that I was stepping down. But I'd al- I've always been one of those people guided by, where can I make the biggest difference? And, quite honestly, I was just getting burned out on the court. It was, it, the depravity that I was seeing every day, it just, I wasn't able to leave it at the office. And I'd always promised myself that when I reached the point where I couldn't see the humanity in the person across the bench from me, it was time for me to go. My youngest [David Brown] was four, my middle daughter [Laura Brown] was fourteen. It was time for me to go. And I started having quiet conversations with people, imagining I would just transition to a law firm. And Nationwide Children's, one of my friends was on the board and Nationwide Children's asked me to come and talk to them. And they wanted to create a one stop child abuse center because they had children who were sexually abused, spending hours in the emergency room, sometimes eight, ten, twelve hours waiting on detectives to get there, waiting on children's services to get there. So, they basically said, "This is kind of what we're thinking, but we'd like you with your experience to come in and design it." And so, I literally got the opportunity to plan, program, and build a center from the ground up. They had originally told me I had $3 million. I, I ultimately got $10 million, and we built a forty-two thousand square foot facility that, now in Franklin County [Ohio], we've been open now for, since 2005 for seven years. So, we have literally changed the paradigm on how you treat abused children. What we did is we moved all of the systems that deal with seriously abused children into one location. This beautiful building looks like you're walking into somebody's living room. It doesn't look like a hospital. It doesn't look institutional. We moved our five child abuse physicians, nurse practitioners, eight trauma treatment therapists, seventeen detectives from our special victims bureau at the Columbus police department [Columbus Division of Police], ten children services investigators, two Franklin County prosecutors, a domestic violence therapist, a child psychiatrist, and the Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence [The Center for Family Safety and Healing, Columbus, Ohio] all in one location, all working together. It took us two years just to get the memorandums of understanding completed. But what--it's amazing what happens when you take six organizations that are used to pointing the finger at each other, which is what they used to do when I was on the bench; the police would blame children's services. Children's services would blame the prosecutor as to why nothing happened. But now, instead of being this anonymous name on a phone message, it's the person you see in the parking lot. It's the person you get coffee with in the morning. So, the beauty of this is that when a child is raped, they come to the center, and everybody they need to see is at the center: the detective's there, the children's services worker is here, the physician is there. We immediately get them into trauma treatment with a therapist. And so, oftentimes, the police detective is able to go and interview the alleged perpetrator before the mom can get home and say, oh, my god, this is what they found. So, it's a wonderful system. It was the work of my life. It's what I thought I was going to end my career doing. And then, Governor Strickland [Ted Strickland] called in 2010 (laughter).$$Yeah. For the record, the name of the place is the Center for Child and Family Advocacy [The Center for Family Safety and Healing, Columbus, Ohio]--$$At Nationwide Children's--$$--at Nationwide Children's Hospital.$$Yes.$$And this makes so much sense. Is this still going on?$$It is.$$And has it been replicated in others?$$Yeah, we, and we actually weren't the first people to come up with this concept. I mean, there are centers like this that exist. Chicago [Illinois] has one. I went to visit the Chicago one. It's twenty-seven thousand square feet. That's when I knew I had to make it bigger. And Chicago's is a house, it's really kind of whimsical. They have windows that are on the floor, and they have windows that go up outside down, so it's really entertaining for a child to look at. But one of the things I--when I met with the director there, and I asked her, I said, "What would you do if you were doing different--doing it today differently?" She said, "I'd build it bigger." Because what we, what we everybody underestimated, which we got the benefit of their experience, is that when you create a safe place for people to come, where they don't have to go down to the police station, where they don't have to into a hospital emergency room, it makes it easier for people to come forward. So, I went to San Diego [California], I went to Chicago, I sent a consultant to Denver [Colorado], I went to Cincinnati [Ohio]. I went to Houston [Texas]. Houston has a fifty-six thousand square foot facility, and they were adding on to it at the time I visited them in 2002. So, we didn't create the model. I'd like to say that ours is the most comprehensive model because we included domestic violence because what we found in interviewing our families is that 60 percent of our parents gave a current or prior history of domestic violence, so we believed in terms of healing the child, we had to heal the family.$$Okay.