Staff profile: Marcia
Title: Director of the Sexual Harassment Prevention Office; special assistant
to the Provost
|photo by Mary Hanlon
How did you get to Northwestern? I came to Evanston as an undergraduate more
than 25 years ago and left with a degree from the Weinberg College and many
fond memories. I returned 10 years later, to practice labor and employment
law with a Chicago firm. For 17 years, I litigated discrimination and harassment
cases. In the mid-to-late 1990’s, however, I found my management clients
becoming increasingly disinterested in litigating against their employees and
more interested in creating policies and training programs to improve workplace
climate. As I helped companies develop the programs they envisioned, I realized
I was no longer just giving legal advice — I was giving advice on leadership,
organizational behavior and communication strategies. Feeling pretty far afield
from my legal training, I came back to Northwestern and to get a master’s
degree from the School of Communication’s managerial program.
After so many years as a lawyer, don’t you miss it? I guest lecture in
several undergraduate communication courses and remain very active in the American
Bar Association. That keeps me in touch with my law practice. But, there is
nothing quite like a jury trial. Sometimes I do miss that part.
What do you like best about your current job? I took the position to try my
hand at practicing what I was preaching — to build a program that had
the goal of making an organization better for the people in it. I’m starting
to see that happen here, and it is very rewarding.
Do you have any plans for the future? Someday I’d like to open up a joint
coffee and bike shop, in a small summer resort town like the one I grew up
in, with my partner, Steve Poor. My half will be the coffee shop, lined with
bookcases where customers can exchange books. Steve will run the bike shop.
It will have bikes for all ages and sizes, maps of local routes and lots of
— Katharine Duke