Summers named associate dean for student affairs, EDI in School of Law
“Regardless of their place in society, the law eventually touches everybody.”
So, it’s extremely important, says Yvonnda Summers, BSBA’11, MS’14, JD’14, for attorneys to be able to level with anyone who walks through the door.
“Attorneys need to be able to meet that person where they are and empathize with them,” Summers says. “Even if they don’t sympathize, they need to be able to see their client as a person and respect them, whether or not they understand them.”
In June, Summers began a new position with the Creighton School of Law as the associate dean of Student Affairs, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Her job, she says, is to “breathe fresh air” into the law school student experience in the wake of the pandemic, while also fostering a healthy, welcoming and inclusive environment for students, faculty and staff of all backgrounds.
“I don’t want equity, diversity and inclusion to just be a box that we check off,” Summers says. “I want it to be a foundational part of our culture here, and I want to be sure we’re being active and purposeful in addressing diversity.”
Summers, an Omaha native and holder of three Creighton degrees, said she was initially drawn to a legal career because she saw it as a way to serve the community.
“I’ve always thought it’s very important that clients look at their attorneys and see someone that represents them,” she says. “Unfortunately, a lot of people who go through the justice system are Black, and I always wanted to provide them with the comfort that comes from knowing that they have an attorney who looks like them.”
After graduating with her degree in 2014, Summers worked in private practice for a year before she and her husband moved to Virginia, where Summers eventually accepted a position in the public defender’s office in the city of Portsmouth. There, Summers took on high-profile cases and helped establish a new mental health court.
After returning to Omaha in 2020, she joined the Douglas County Public Defender’s Office, representing clients in several parent-neglect cases and a murder trial.
In her latest role at Creighton, Summers says she hopes to impress upon the students she works with that being an attorney especially a Creighton-educated one — means more than just knowing the law. It means serving their clients with dignity and connecting with them in a human, service- minded way.
“Creighton has always been home to me, and I’m so excited to be back here,” she says. “I’m thrilled to be in a position to ensure our students have a positive experience here, and I hope they can leave here saying that they are proud to be a Creighton graduate.”