State of Michigan Chief Justice Bridget McCormack Named 2020 Leader of the Year, Meets Joyce Ivy Summer Scholars


LANSING, MI, December 13, 2019 – The Joyce Ivy Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the academic advancement of talented female high school students from the Midwest, today named Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack its 2020 Leader of the Year.

“We are delighted to name Chief Justice McCormack as our 2020 Leader of the Year,” said Mike Pritula, Chair of the Joyce Ivy Foundation Board and member of its Leader of the Year Selection Committee. “It is exciting to honor such a prominent public figure in our 15th anniversary and we know our Summer Scholars will benefit from hearing about Chief Justice McCormack’s own path through education and career. We admire the impact she has had in Michigan and beyond.”

To kick off the Joyce Ivy Foundation Leader of the Year tenure for Chief Justice McCormack, high school- and college-aged young women affiliated with The Joyce Ivy Foundation were hosted by Chief Justice McCormack on Wednesday at the Michigan Hall of Justice in Lansing. They listened in on December oral arguments, learned about the Michigan Supreme Court, and met with Chief Justice McCormack to discuss her career choices and career paths.

“It’s amazing how distant important decisions like the Supreme Court’s can feel, but meeting Chief Justice McCormack brought them so much closer. Her warmth and approachability encouraged me to envision myself as an active participant in our democracy; moreover, I can truly admit that, before today, I did not see myself ever being interested in law. Now, I’m watching Supreme Court oral arguments,” said Abbee Elwell, 2017 Joyce Ivy Summer Scholar and current freshman at Hillsdale College. “Chief Justice McCormack’s story serves as an outstanding example to girls like me that, with hard work and fearlessness, I can go as far as I want. Truly, Chief Justice McCormack is a wonderful example of what women can do. Her words from today are already etched into my journal: yes, you will have disadvantages. But be fearless anyway.”

The Joyce Ivy Foundation is the leading provider of summer academic scholarships for high-achieving, low-income female high school students from the Midwest. Selected Scholars participate in summer programs at Joyce Ivy partner institutions, including some of the nation’s most rigorous colleges and universities: Harvard, Stanford, Brown, Yale, MIT, Johns Hopkins, Emory, Cornell, Barnard, Smith, and Washington University in St Louis. The Foundation also holds an annual fall college admissions workshop and spring college admissions symposium, which provide critical information to over 500 high school students, families, counselors, community-based organization leaders, and educators throughout the Midwest.

Each year, the Joyce Ivy Foundation names a Leader of the Year who has achieved notable success in her professional and educational careers. The Leader of the Year embodies a relentless pursuit of her own educational and professional goals and serves as a powerful example of female empowerment and leadership for the Scholars.

Chief Justice McCormack will be honored at the Joyce Ivy Foundation Summer Scholars Gala and 15th Anniversary Celebration, to be held at the Westin Book Cadillac in Detroit, Michigan, on May 16, 2020, and will address the 2020 group of Summer Scholars as they prepare for their summer program participation. Since 2006, the Foundation has provided scholarships to 798 young women and leveraged $4.7 million in scholarship funding.

“I am so grateful to have been selected for this honor because of what this organization stands for: opportunity and possibility,” said Chief Justice McCormack. “Lack of access to the right resources should never hamper the goals of talented young minds, and I applaud the Joyce Ivy Foundation for nurturing and guiding young women to not only imagine, but also to pursue and eventually achieve their career goals.”

Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack joined the Michigan Supreme Court in January 2013, and became Chief Justice in January 2019. Before her election to the Court in November 2012, she was a law professor and dean at the University of Michigan Law School. Since joining the Court, she continues to teach at the Law School.

A graduate of the New York University Law School, she spent the first five years of her legal career in New York, first with the Legal Aid Society and then at the Office of the Appellate Defender. In 1996, she became a faculty fellow at the Yale Law School. After joining the University of Michigan Law School faculty, she cofounded the Michigan Innocence Clinic, in which students represent wrongfully convicted Michiganders. The clinic has exonerated over 15 people so far, and has shined a light on the important justice issues underlying wrongful conviction. In 2010, McCormack won the “Justice for All” Award for the Clinic’s work, and has won numerous other state and national honors for judicial leadership.

Chief Justice McCormack participates with a number of professional organizations including the American Bar Association Access to Justice committee and the National Center for State Courts Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative. She also serves as co-chair of the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration, alongside the Michigan Lt. Governor. As the Chief Justice, McCormack has promoted statewide initiatives devoted to improving the courts service to the public, and in particular delivering on a promise that courts are independent, accessible, engaged with their communities and efficient.

Past recipients of the Joyce Ivy Foundation Leader of the Year Award include: Faye Nelson, Michigan Director of the WK Kellogg Foundation (2019); Dr. Janet Reid, Chief Executive Officer of BRBS World (2018); Jocelyn Benson, Chief Executive Officer of Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) (2017); Susan L. Blount, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Prudential (retired) (2016); Valerie J. M. Brader, Executive Director of the Michigan Agency for Energy (2015); Lisa A. Payne, Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer of Taubman Centers, Inc. (2014); Lucy Clark Dougherty, Vice President and General Counsel of General Motors North America (2013); Deanna Mulligan, CEO of Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (2012); and Kim Schatzel, Dean of the University of Michigan – Dearborn College of Business (2011).