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LEADERSHIP IN LAW 2018: Nikki Quintana

Executive Director, Fort Wayne Metropolitan Human Relations Commission Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, 2010

May 2, 2018

Nikki Quintana has always wanted to make her hometown of Fort Wayne a better place to live and work. When she’s not directing the organization that protects community members from unlawful discrimination, she is active in community efforts to eliminate domestic violence and increase quality of life and opportunities for people of all backgrounds.

lil-quintana-2018What was your most memorable job before becoming an attorney?

I worked as a seasonal parks and rec soccer coach for children ages 3 to 7. It was great to teach the little ones my favorite sport, but what made it so memorable was some of the funny things they would say.

If you hadn’t pursued a legal career, what would you be doing instead?

I would most likely be working for an organization dedicated to making the city of Fort Wayne a better place to live. I was born and raised in Fort Wayne and it is a great city that is on the move.  I have always known that whatever career path I chose, I would end up back home.

When did you first decide you would become a lawyer, and what motivated you?

I decided I wanted to become a lawyer in middle school. I realized that being a lawyer would allow me to help people navigate the legal system. Specifically, being able to help those closest to me and seeing some of the problems they faced motivated me to continue my studies.  

Who is someone who inspired or mentored you, and what did you learn from them?

My father has inspired me and taught me to give it my all in whatever I am doing. He told me to take pride in my work and always be the best you can be. This advice is something I carry with me every day. 

What’s been the most rewarding aspect of your practice?                                                         

I get to serve my community and help make the city of Fort Wayne a more diverse and inclusive place to live. Throughout my various roles at Metro, I have been able to empower the citizens of Fort Wayne through education on discrimination and diversity issues. I believe education is an important step in creating real change, because when you know better, you do better. 

What’s something you learned about yourself upon being named director of the Fort Wayne Human Relations Commission last year?

Moving into the position of director has allowed me to reach out to the community more than I did in my previous role as staff attorney. I have always enjoyed this type of work, but this new role has reaffirmed my dedication to the agency and the important role it plays within the Fort Wayne community.

What do you most enjoy doing when you’re not in the office?

I most enjoy spending time with my 3-year-old son and my husband. Whether we are taking a day trip to a museum or just going to a local hobby shop, it is always a fun time making memories.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

I see myself continuing to serve in public interest work and give back to my community. I also hope to be traveling and marking destinations off of my bucket list. 

What’s something about you not many people know?

I was the first person in my family to get a college degree and I am the only lawyer in my family.  Being the first meant learning everything as you go.

What do you most like about volunteering and providing community service?

By volunteering you can make a positive impact on someone’s life. Specifically, I have mentored middle and high school girls over the last six years. Throughout this time, I have been able to see firsthand how these young ladies are applying what they learned. Whether this means getting out of an unhealthy relationship, pursuing a college degree, or nailing a first job interview, it is amazing to see the girls take control of their lives and follow their dreams.

What has been your most memorable case?

My most memorable case has been where I mediated multiple complaints based on national origin discrimination. The resolution included improved work policies, training for employees and a three-year monitoring period. By including policy changes we are not only addressing the complaints, but we are making a positive impact on how a company handles future harassment, discrimination, and diversity issues. 

How do you see the legal profession changing in the next decade?

My hope is that the legal profession continues to be more diverse. By including different perspectives and individuals of different genders, ethnicities and races, we will better serve our clients and the public at large.•

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