OIP attorney and UC Law alumnae Carrie Wood '05 has a passion for horses and the law. A graduate of New York’s Cornell University with a degree in engineering, she took two years off to ride horses professionally. She then returned to her hometown of Cincinnati. “I had thought about law school because of a Cornell professor who encouraged my interest in civil rights,” said Wood, “but my passion was horses. Although once in the work force, when I saw people work so hard every day, but still struggle to make ends meet, I realized there was more I could do with my life.”
Upon returning to Cincinnati, Wood worked at a law firm for about a year to see if she really wanted to practice law. She then set her sights on the College of Law, from which she graduated in 2005. After finishing law school, Wood moved to New York City to work for the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Division in the Bronx. She held that position for almost five years before coming to work for OIP a year ago.
“When you work in the criminal justice system, like I did in New York, you see when it works well and when it works poorly—and when it fails altogether. I saw the position with OIP as an opportunity to highlight those failures on a grander scale, and a way to push back against the problems within the system.” She says she really enjoys her job, particularly the teaching aspect. “The students are an integral part of OIP,” she explained, “and I love the opportunity to work with them throughout the year. It’s really great to see them improve throughout the course of the summer and the year.” Wood also commented that she enjoys the energy level and enthusiasm that the students bring with them. “It reinvigorates you,” she said.
One of the highlights of Wood’s time at OIP was the opportunity to witness one of the Project’s exonerations in May 2010. This was the exoneration of Raymond Towler, exonerated after almost 30 years in prison. Towler is the longest serving wrongfully incarcerated inmate to be released in Ohio history and one of the longest in United States history. It was an incredibly positive experience for her. “This job can be frustrating,” she said, “but having great colleagues around you to be supportive in defeat and to cheer you on in victory is really great.”
Written by: Lindsay Mather ‘11