Alumni Spotlight: Mary Goodwin ’06
Legal Eagle Fights for Justice
Legal Eagle Fights for Justice
by Valerie Esposito
When Mary Goodwin ’06 graduated from SJC’s Brooklyn Campus, she became the first person in her family to graduate college. After attending James Madison High School, a large public high school in Brooklyn, Ms. Goodwin was eager to experience the academic and social benefits of a small college such as St. Joseph’s. What she also experienced was four years of success that helped her achieve some wonderful milestones.
With original intentions of studying secondary education, Ms. Goodwin changed her plan and double-majored in political science and history to better prepare for her plans of attending law school. At SJC, Ms. Goodwin was an active student who founded The Student Legal Society, a group that brought together students who were interested in pursuing legal careers, as well as a student ambassador and member of the History Club, Student Government Association, Sigma Iota Chi International Honor Society and Phi Alpha Theta International History Honor Society. In addition, Ms. Goodwin was chosen as the valedictorian of her class.
“I consider myself very fortunate to have taken courses with several influential and inspiring professors at SJC,” Ms. Goodwin said. “Dr. Phillip Dehne (professor of history) and Dr. Kenneth Bauzon (professor of political science) were very passionate and their lectures were always very colorful and riveting. They helped sharpen my critical thinking abilities.”
Since graduating from SJC, Ms. Goodwin earned a Juris Doctor from Syracuse University and has been working as an attorney at Jo Anne Simon P.C., a private practice disability civil rights law firm in Brooklyn. At the firm, Ms. Goodwin works under the mentorship of her boss, Jo Anne Simon, and is a colleague of Alison Hart, an attorney and SJC adjunct professor who Ms. Goodwin once looked up to as a student.
“As a professor, Ms. Hart was very inspiring because she accomplished two of my main goals -- teaching and practicing law,” Ms. Goodwin said. “Now a few years later, Alison and I work in the same office building and I’ve even covered cases for her.”
As an attorney, Ms. Goodwin represents individuals with disabilities who have been discriminated against in standardized testing, higher education, employment and licensing.
“We are a small private firm, but we do very big things and represent clients all over the country, including various disability advocacy organizations,” Ms. Goodwin said. “I absolutely love that I am able to help others and that I am always learning, but the greatest challenge to me is the reality that there are still so many inequities in this world. However, in everything that I do, I try to be compassionate and I zealously advocate for those whose voices cannot be heard.”
In her spare time, Ms. Goodwin is an active member of various organizations including, the New York Urban League Young Professionals, the Association on Higher Education and Disability and Everyone Reading, a group that helps children and adults learn to be successful readers, writers and spellers. Through her memberships, Ms. Goodwin has facilitated college preparedness seminars and partnered with local politicians, leaders, and community groups to organize outreach events.
While working to improve the lives of others, Ms. Goodwin says she has adopted SJC’s motto, Esse Non Videri: “To be, not to seem,” as her own.
“I did not get to where I am alone and I have a duty to give back, whether it is by mentorship, advocacy or volunteering,” Ms. Goodwin said. “With success comes much responsibility and I don’t just want to look good on paper, I want to do good every day.”
When she is not fulfilling her dream of practicing law or being active in the community, Ms. Goodwin enjoys cooking, singing and spending time with her family and friends. She even hopes to open a restaurant one day that will “bring everyone together by serving good food.”
As an inspiration and true testament to the type of individuals SJC serves, Ms. Goodwin offers this advice: “Follow your dreams and do not be deterred if there are a few bumps along the way. Success is not linear and you need to be flexible and roll with the punches. If you haven’t already, start building a network of people that you can depend on through the haul.”