Alumnae: Alumnae Profiles

Alumnae Profiles: Jocelyn Griffin C'2003

Jocelyn Griffin thrives on the fast-paced, challenging and competitive world of politics. The 2003 magna cum laude sociology graduate spends her days writing floor speeches, drafting legislation, developing and planning legislative initiatives, monitoring legislative developments and conducting meetings for U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.). As legislative counsel, Ms. Griffin says never in her wildest dreams would she have imagined herself on Capitol Hill.

“I grew up in Connecticut, never knew my father and lived with my mom in subsidized housing,” said the 29-year-old who graduated cum laude from Quinnipiac University School of Law in 2006. “I would have never thought I could go from the projects, to Spelman, to law school, to law-firm life, and then to Capitol Hill.” While she is still feeling her way around the Hill and contemplating her career, ultimately Ms. Griffin knows she has many options – continue to work her way up on the Hill, return to private practice, or strive to become a judge. Currently, Griffin enjoys working for Rep. Johnson and is focused on contributing her legal skills to his office. On the Hill, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Attorney General Eric Holder, Justices Antonin Scalia and Stephen G. Breyer, she takes pride in advising her boss, who is a civil and criminal lawyer.

“As a member of the Judiciary Committee and chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy, I deal with critical issues ranging from criminal justice reform to immigration to commercial and administrative law every week,” said Rep. Johnson, who is up for re-election in Georgia’s 4th District. “Jocelyn is my go-to person in the office for these and – quite frankly– many other matters. Her professionalism, backed by sound legal skills and in-depth knowledge, makes her invaluable to me and my team.” Giving credit to Spelman, Ms. Griffin says the impact the College made on her has laid an unshakeable foundation. From academic mentors to
long-lasting friendships, being a Spelman woman is something she does not take lightly. 

“Spelman prepared me for my political work because it was there that I was taught to set high standards, always be prepared and to learn from everyone I encountered,” said Ms. Griffin who was a Gates Millennium Scholar. “Early on, I learned the following: to be early is to be on time; to be on time is to be late; and to be late is unacceptable. In fact, some days I get to the office at 6:45 a.m.” A hardworking visionary, she looks at each move as a stepping stone in her career. Her legal career began in 2004 when she spent her summer at the law offices of Ropes & Gray LLP in Boston as an intern. The next summer she worked as a summer associate with Murtha Cullina LLP in Hartford, Connecticut. After her graduation from law school, Murtha Cullina in New Haven, Connecticut, hired her as an associate, where she worked in the litigation department. From there, she moved to Keller and Heckman LLP, in Washington, D.C., where she practiced in the employment and labor department. In November 2009, she began as a legal fellow for Rep. Johnson. 

“She was an especially dedicated young scholar who had a professional demeanor and a work ethic that was stronger than most of her peers,” said Bruce Wade, Ph.D., professor of sociology. “I admire her ability to overcome challenges and to work through difficult circumstances and come out on top. You can tell that she had a solid family background and a strong intellect – even when she was an undergraduate.”

 While her days are steeped in advising the congressman on various legal and policy issues, including labor and employment, state taxation and immigration issues, and preparing him for judiciary hearings, Ms. Griffin has no regrets.  “I truly believe that there is a season to every aspect of
my life,” said Ms. Griffin. “Everything I have experienced is preparing me for where I am supposed to be, for what I am supposed to be doing. Right now, I am right where I am supposed to be.”

*This article can be found in the Fall 2010 edition of the Spelman Messenger*