IJ’s Deb Simpson Continually Conquers the Unknown
By Chip Mellor
Everyone at IJ finds themselves called upon regularly to do things they’ve never done before. Whether it’s participating in a lawsuit, conference, fund raising, a media pitch or administration, we approach each task looking for new, more effective ways to accomplish our goals. It’s all part of doing whatever it takes to get the job done right. And it requires special people to be able to do this well, month after month.
No one at IJ has better demonstrated the vital qualities necessary to get the job done than Deborah Simpson. Deb joined IJ five years ago, from the New York City law firm of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. Deb’s excellent litigation skills thrust her right into the thick of the action on our New York van and Las Vegas limousine cases. When litigating, Deb is a whirlwind of action: coordinating law clerks, writing briefs, planning rallies and making our opponents miserable. She played a key role in our success in both cases.
Then came motherhood, and with it the need to move away from the incessant demands of litigation. At the same time, IJ’s Managing Vice President John Keppler, who did a great job for us, headed off to get his MBA at the University of Virginia. Deb (who had never done fund raising) took over the reins of development and systems management essential to our existence. That year, we brought in more money than ever before.
Throughout her tenure, Deb has earned the admiration and affection of her colleagues for her integrity, no-nonsense directness and irreverent sense of humor. She’s a straight shooter who can be counted on for wise counsel and total dedication to IJ. She’s also an oenophile whose passion and outrage helped crystallize our New York wine case after she visited a California winery and was shocked to find out she couldn’t ship a case home to Virginia.
Now that baby number two has arrived (Julia, to accompany big sister Kate), Deb has again shifted focus and will be the headquarters liaison for our state chapters. She will also weigh in from time to time on litigation strategy and in typical fashion will become indispensable in other aspects of the Institute. As always, Deb will tackle each new task with the kind of focus and creativity that exemplifies the IJ Way.
Chip Mellor is IJ’s president and general counsel.