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New Chair takes the reins of Leadership Cabinet

by Sarah Bello,

There’s a high likelihood that Willamette Law Dean Brian Gallini and Nancy Schierhorn JD’86 will get into a conversation about hockey during the biannual Leadership Cabinet meeting. Who else in Salem likes hockey as much as they do? 

Nancy Schierhorn
Nancy Schierhorn

The two are both hockey nuts, Schierhorn laughs. Along with his propensity for the sport, what Schierhorn likes about Gallini is his ability to get things done.
As the Leadership Cabinet’s new chair, she sees his ideas as enhancing those of Dean Emeritus Curtis Bridgeman, who transformed the school’s Board of Visitors into today’s more involved alumni group.

“Brian is such a hard worker. Both he and Curtis have done a great job, but it’s kind of fun to see new thoughts and ideas and how Brian acts on them,” Schierhorn says. “He has great vision and the ability to execute. To support him in that is exciting.”

Schierhorn took the reins of the Leadership Cabinet this spring from Mark Hoyt JD’92. She says Hoyt helped put the group on a successful trajectory to actively support the school in an effort to maximize the Willamette experience for all. 

Mark Hoyt
Mark Hoyt

The members of the Leadership Cabinet assist the dean as a sounding board who can see the bigger picture at the College of Law. They offer advice on the future direction of the law school, but they also move it forward by participating in activities that enhance day-to-day operations, serving as guest speakers in the classroom and on alumni panels, connecting with students personally, attending events and fundraising.

As a business executive for Alaska-based Bristol Bay Native Corporation, Schierhorn is an alumni contact for Alaskan students. She provides knowledge for Willamette Law initiatives, such as the Business Lawyering Institute, and a voice to share the school’s successes and needs. Other members of the group come from legal and business backgrounds, offering a wide range of talented advisors and collaborators.

Being part of the group is one way Schierhorn stays up-to-date about the school and how she can help it advance.

“I love Willamette and always have,” she explains. “My husband and I met there, and we both attribute our success to what we got out of our education there, among other things. When I was asked to join the Leadership Cabinet, I was more than happy to step in and make sure other folks had the same experience I had.”

Hoyt was a part of the Board of Visitors, a group common to law schools, for about 20 years, although it was around even before then for Willamette Law deans to consult with. Throughout his tenure, deans used the board differently. When Bridgeman became dean in 2013, he reorganized the board into the Leadership Cabinet, with Hoyt as chair.

“He had the vision of converting the Board of Visitors into a group of committed alumni who wouldn’t really advise the dean, but would assist him in doing what it took to reshape the law school,” Hoyt recalls. “We became active supporters out in the community, pushing for higher visibility, a higher profile and greater respect for the law school.”

Like Schierhorn, Hoyt viewed the opportunity to be involved as a way to give back to the institution that helped shape his career. Hoyt has mentored students and taught as an adjunct professor, but his time as chair helped uniquely advance the school, and he’s proud of the work they accomplished.

He is excited to see what Schierhorn will do as she leads, saying that he firmly believes she’ll make him look bad (in a good way).

“Curtis was a brilliant leader for the law school and did fantastic things to position it very well,” he says. “Brian is the right man to take over that helm and lead Willamette through an unprecedented period of change in higher education. He and Nancy will be a formidable team. She is a great attorney and a wonderful person, and she’s going to be fantastic.”

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