2016 Annual Conference Speakers

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We are proud to announce that Vanita Gupta, the Justice Department’s principal deputy assistant attorney general and head of the Civil Rights Division, will open our 2016 Annual Conference, themed "Advocacy at a Crossroads: Equality, Justice, and Human Rights." Read her Nov. 10 remarks

On October 15, 2014, President Obama appointed Vanita Gupta to lead the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice. As the chief civil rights prosecutor for the United States, Ms. Gupta oversees a wide range of criminal and civil enforcement efforts to ensure equal justice and protect equal opportunity for all.

Under Ms. Gupta’s leadership, the division continues its critical work in a number of areas, including advancing constitutional policing and criminal justice reform; prosecuting hate crimes and human trafficking; promoting disability rights; protecting the rights of LGBTI individuals; and combating discrimination in education, housing, employment, lending, and voting.

Ms. Gupta has devoted her entire career to civil rights work. Before joining the Justice Department, she served as deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and director of its Center for Justice. In addition to managing a robust litigation docket at the ACLU, Ms. Gupta worked with law enforcement agencies, corrections officials, and stakeholders across the political spectrum to build collaborative support for policies that make our criminal justice system more effective and more just.

Previously, Ms. Gupta worked as an attorney at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where she successfully led the effort to overturn the wrongful drug convictions of 38 individuals in Tulia, Texas, who were ultimately pardoned by Governor Rick Perry. She then helped negotiate a $6 million settlement on behalf of her clients.

Ms. Gupta graduated magna cum laude from Yale University and received her law degree from New York University School of Law, where she taught a civil rights litigation clinic for several years. Read her remarks.


We are equally proud to announce that the Honorable Nancy H. Vaidik, chief judge of the Indiana Court of Appeals, will also join us for our Opening Plenary.

Nancy H. Vaidik is a judge and a teacher with broad experience in both trial and appellate courts and in legal classrooms. She has an expertise in trial advocacy and appellate advocacy, with a strong background in the rules of evidence and legal mediation.

Judge Vaidik was selected by her colleagues as chief judge of the Court of Appeals for a three-year term beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

Judge Vaidik grew up in Portage, Indiana, and is a sixth-generation Hoosier who retains strong ties to her home town. She graduated with high distinction from Valparaiso University in 1977, with a double major in political science and psychology, and then studied at Valparaiso University Law School, where she earned her Juris Doctor in 1980.

Her early years as deputy and then chief deputy Porter County prosecutor provided the grounding for her judicial career. As an attorney, she tried more than 75 jury trials and founded the Porter County Victims Assistance Unit, the Porter County Sexual Assault Recovery Project, the Domestic Violence Service, and the Valparaiso University Law School Mediation Clinic. She also served on the Porter County Community Corrections Board and led a countywide task force that spearheaded the eventual construction of a new county jail. After serving as a prosecutor, she went into private practice and specialized in domestic relations, probate, municipal law, and general litigation. She represented Caring Place, Inc., a shelter for battered women in Valparaiso.

From 1992 to 2000, she served as the judge of the Porter Superior Court. During her tenure on the trial court, Judge Vaidik was awarded a wide range of honors, including the 1996 Indiana Domestic Violence Coalition Judge of the Year and the 1997 Indiana Judges Association Special Merit Award.

Judge Vaidik was appointed to the Court of Appeals in February 2000 by Governor Frank O’Bannon and was retained by election in 2002 and 2012. Because Judge Vaidik sees the Court of Appeals at the intersection of theoretical and practical law, she believes the Court should embody the highest degree of fairness and impartiality. This view informs her passion for teaching, as she feels that Hoosiers, and all litigants, deserve the finest possible legal advocates on their behalf. Judge Vaidik also believes that legal writing must be distinguished by logical construction and clear, explanatory prose.

She is an adjunct professor at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law and won its 2011 Adjunct Professor of the Year Award. She has served as a visiting professor at the College of Law of England and Wales and taught as an adjunct professor at Valparaiso University Law School. She has taught at many law schools and for a number of organizations, including the Indiana State Bar Association, the Indiana Legal Education Forum, and the Indiana Judicial Center. Judge Vaidik has trained lawyers involved in prosecuting Rwandan war crimes, Mexican lawyers prosecuting drug lords, and solicitor advocates seeking the rights of audience in the High Courts in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She is particularly proud of her long association with the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, which honored her with its 2007 Robert Keeton Faculty Award.

Despite her Court of Appeals caseload and her teaching, Judge Vaidik is also actively involved in a wide variety of community, legal, and judicial organizations. She served on the State of Indiana Children’s Peak Performance Commission and has held many posts with the Indiana Judges Association and Indiana Judicial Center. She has been chairperson of the Judicial Education and Community Relations Committees of the Indiana Judicial Center and is a member of the American Bar Association, Indiana State Bar Association, and Sagamore Inns of Court.

She has received many other awards and honors, including the 2004 Indiana State Bar Association’s Women in Law Achievement Award, the 2007 Indiana Lawyer Distinguished Barrister Award, the 2003 Paragon of Justice Award from Valparaiso University Law School, and the Sagamore of the Wabash Award from two Indiana governors.

Judge Vaidik and her husband are the proud parents of twin daughters, one a medical doctor and one a lawyer, and they have two grandsons, who can choose either profession.


We will also be joined by Professor Carlton Waterhouse, Director, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law Environmental, Energy and Natural Resources Law Program.

Professor Waterhouse is an international expert on environmental law and environmental justice as well as reparations and redress for historic injustices. Professor Waterhouse’s views have been published in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal Online, the Indianapolis Star, and many other media outlets. He is a highly sought after speaker who regularly addresses national and international audiences. His forthcoming book with Cambridge University Press explores the historic and contemporary role of the United States Supreme Court in maintaining social hierarchy. His previous scholarship includes essays, articles, and book chapters focused on the ethical and legal dimensions of environmental justice and reparations.

Professor Waterhouse is a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University where he studied engineering and the ethics of technology before deciding to study law. He is a graduate of the Howard University School of Law. While in law school, he served as an intern with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, where he participated in the preliminary formation and development of the Civil Rights Act of 1992.

After completing law school, Professor Waterhouse began his career as an attorney with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, where he served in the Office of Regional Counsel in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Office of General Counsel in Washington, D.C. At the EPA, he served as the chief counsel for the agency in several significant cases and as a national and regional expert on environmental justice, earning three of the Agency’s prestigious national awards. His responsibilities at the EPA included enforcement actions under numerous environmental statutes, the development of regional and national policy on Environmental Justice, and the application of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the EPA permitting actions. Following a successful nine-year career with the EPA, Professor Waterhouse enrolled in a Ph.D. program in the Emory University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences as one of the select George W. Woodruff Fellows. The previous year, he graduated with honors from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University with a Master of Theological Studies degree. In 2006, he graduated from Emory with a Ph.D. in Social Ethics.

Using an interdisciplinary approach, Professor Waterhouse continues to examine civil rights and human rights issues in his scholarship and his service. He actively participates in national and local organizations protecting civil rights and serves on the Indiana Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

In addition to teaching courses on property law and environmental law, Professor Waterhouse teaches courses on race and law and environmental justice. He is the recipient of multiple student awards as both a teacher and a mentor and is actively engaged in programs to increase the representation of disadvantaged groups in law schools.