KIMBERLY (NISSLY) HENDERSON ‘05 looks back fondly on her time at Lancaster Mennonite and remembers Sheri Wenger as a strong influence in her life. “She was a great teacher, really challenging, and prepared me for college. I enjoyed her AP History and Sociology classes, and majored in History and minored in Sociology largely due to her.”
After graduating from Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), Kimberly worked as a clerk in a courthouse in Harrisburg, PA for a few years before going to Mississippi College School of Law to become a lawyer. She did a Youth Court clinic in the juvenile delinquency system in law school and found her passion. “I felt that children, especially in delinquency, did not get good advocacy or a voice. My first job out of law school was as a public defender representing kids in the juvenile justice system in Dauphin County, PA. You become a lawyer, parent, and social worker to your clients. They are often in the system because they don’t have parental influence in their lives.” She encouraged clients to envision a bright future for themselves and to make choices that would lead them there.
She also helped her clients see the impact they had on the victim of their crime and to seek to repair harm. “Sometimes kids would want to write a letter to a victim, and I would help them with that. These were important steps for my clients in their rehabilitative process. In addition to community protection and competency development, ultimately one of the goals of the juvenile justice system in this Commonwealth is about accountability, and, while that act may seem insignificant to some, to the victim or the juvenile it can be quite significant.”
In her current job, Kimberly has tried to advocate for increased diversity among attorneys and also has a passion for mentoring. “I especially love mentoring and encouraging law school students of color. I hand out my business cards and tell them whenever they feel like quitting law school to please contact me because they can do it, and the legal field needs qualified diverse lawyers who care. Then I tell the students that when you graduate and get your first legal job, be a mentor and help make the legal field more diverse and ultimately better for everyone.”