As the regional attorney for the Birmingham District of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Marsha RUCKER ’86 manages and litigates cases to further the eradication of unlawful employment discrimination. Marsha began her career with the EEOC as a trial attorney in the Birmingham District Office in 2008 and became the District’s regional attorney in December 2016. Prior to coming to the EEOC, Marsha was in-house counsel for two large public housing authorities. Early in her career, Marsha was a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland. In this capacity, she represented more than 500 clients in various courts and tribunals in matters involving federal and state housing law, contract law, and public benefits. In 2019, Marsha’s work was recognized with the EEOC’s Chair’s Organizational Performance Award, the highest honor conferred within the organization. Marsha received her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Duke University and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law where she was a Patricia Roberts Harris National Fellow.
J.D. University of Pittsburgh School of Law; B.A. Duke University
Regional Attorney, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
How has your career path changed over time? Did you always know you wanted to do what you’re doing now? I have always been a practicing attorney after having attended law school straight out of college. I always wanted to be a civil rights lawyer but didn’t get the opportunity to pursue this area until midlife.
What do you like most about your job? I know I make a difference. I’m part of an organization that shapes nearly everyone’s life. Everyone who works and/or is seeking employment is impacted by the laws we enforce.
What lessons has your work life taught you? Sometimes you have to dig deep and work incredibly hard during short, sustained periods of time to be effective and to achieve a good result. In sum, not even intelligence is a substitute for good, hard work.
For Ellis students reading this: is there any wisdom you’d want to pass on to them? What would you want them to know? Learn how to be an effective communicator, particularly in written form.
What do you think are the advantages to Ellis’ environment? It was a nurturing environment, yet it instilled in me that I could be a worthy competitor, including in male-dominated fields or forums. I was taught to be bold and fearless. I am powerful because I am a woman and not powerless because of the same.
We often talk about girls developing their voice at Ellis, what does that mean to you? How do you use your voice? For me, it means coming out on the right side of justice. I use my voice to vindicate the rights of the wronged and the oppressed.
Can you recall an instance in your life when you have felt particularly brave or bold? Leaving a secure job, in a city I love to relocate with my then 9-year-old daughter to a city where I knew no one and had never been, to pursue my calling as a civil rights lawyer.
How did Ellis stimulate your intellectual curiosity and creativity? Ellis taught me how to write and more importantly how to think critically. I can still see Miss Greco in my head and the redline comments she made on my submissions.
How would you describe yourself in three words? Determined, decisive, and silly.