Tracy Theodore (JD ’09) always had a passion for volunteering in her community, but it wasn’t until she earned her law degree at Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law that her passion grew into a viable career option.
After graduating from Chapman, Theodore clerked for two years with multiple judges in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California, work that she found tremendously beneficial. When it came time to transition to a law firm, however, she wondered if practicing law was where her heart was.
“After a few years of working in the law I decided I wanted my professional life to look more like my personal life, so I began looking for something that brought the law and my interest in helping the community together,” Theodore said.
Throughout her life, Theodore had always been an active volunteer and, more recently, had regularly volunteered with the Orangewood Foundation.
Through extensive research and active networking, she ultimately landed a position with the Orange County Family Justice Center Foundation as Executive Director in 2015. The Foundation, which is housed in the same building as Fowler School of Law’s Bette and Wylie Aitken Family Protection Clinic in Anaheim, provides empowerment and prevention resources to victims and families impacted by family violence.
As Executive Director, she spends much of her time reviewing contracts, memoranda of understanding, and partnership agreements, in addition to fundraising.
“I don’t practice law, but having that background is incredibly helpful when it comes to the work involved in running the foundation,” she said. “I love the law. There is nothing like a law school education to develop analytical thinking and the skills that are going to prove useful in the real world.”
Since joining the Foundation, Theodore said she feels like she’s found the ideal use for her legal education.
“I’m very sorry that we need to provide the services that we do, but I’m happy that I get to be a part of something bigger in the community,” she said. “It makes me so happy to see the impact we have on kids’ lives and to watch them thrive in our programs.”