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Donnie Warner is Committed to Social Justice and Community Building


Graduate, community worker, and marathoner Donnie Warner has a strong commitment to social justice and community and personal transformation. With experiences that range from living on a Navajo reservation to training non-profit leaders through Public Allies Cincinnati to externing with the Indigent Defense Clinic, he will bring a distinctive viewpoint to the law.

Originally from Plymouth, Michigan, Donnie Warner is a member of the Class of 2014.   He attended DePaul University in Chicago for his undergraduate studies, graduating with a degree in English.  There he ran on the cross-country and track teams, captaining them both his senior year.

Following undergrad, Warner moved to Gallup, New Mexico to teach elementary school as a Teach For America Corps member.  There he would meet his wife, Kayla; they then lived on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico for two years.  When Warner learned that he had secured funding to pursue a master's degree, he moved to Cincinnati to study for a master's degree in creative writing (while teaching freshman English classes at the university).  He then spent two years with Public Allies Cincinnati, a leadership development program committed to developing diverse leaders for leadership positions in nonprofits and communities.  Warner explained his role there:  “As a program manager with Public Allies Cincinnati, I provided one-on-one coaching to individuals in the program and developed tracking tools to chart our impact throughout the Cincinnati community.”  By the time he decided to pursue a law degree, he had become committed to his work and the community. Thus, UC was a logical choice for the school to attend.

“As someone who is committed to social justice work and community-building, what I like about Cincinnati is that it is the ideal size for developing new ideas and models for transformation,” Warner explained about his affinity for the Queen City.  He continued,  “At the same time, the city is large enough to bring unique perspectives together to develop ideas.” He added that he also has an appreciation for Skyline, Graeter’s, the Reds, and other such things that are uniquely Cincinnati.

At the College of Law, Warner has been involved in several student organizations and programs, most notably the Freedom Center Journal (which he worked on for the past two years) and the Indigent Defense Clinic.  “Through the Indigent Defense Clinic, I received fantastic training through the office of the Hamilton County Public Defender,” said Warner of his experience.  With the clinic, his work affirmed his desire to focus on legal work that ultimately helps low income people achieve their desired outcomes.  “I came to learn these outcomes are not restricted to a single case, but extend to many areas of people’s lives,” he said in reflection. 

Warner plans to stay in Cincinnati after graduation.  He commented on his legal studies and experiences:  “You have to stay humble.  There is so much to learn, and I believe that new lawyers should spend a lot of time taking it all in, and then working incredibly hard to answer any questions that remain.  Additionally, regarding criminal law, I am struck by what an honor it is to give a voice to a client who would otherwise be voiceless.  With such an honor you must have a commitment to work as hard as you possibly can.”

Warner shared that he has kept up with his running hobby, recently focusing on marathons.  In fact, he finished second overall in the 2014 Flying Pig Marathon. And, he and his wife have created a blog called Run52, which tells their story of running through each of Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods.

Law Student Places 2nd in Cincinnati's Flying Pig Marathon