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avatar for Colleen Cotter

Colleen Cotter

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland
Executive Director
Cleveland, OH
Colleen Cotter is the Executive Director of The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, serving in that position since 2005. Cleveland Legal Aid provides civil legal assistance to 8,000 clients each year, focusing on safety and health, education and economic stability, shelter, and ensuring government agencies and the justice system are accountable and accessible. Ms. Cotter serves as President of the Board of Directors of the Saint Luke's Foundation and President of the United Way of Greater Cleveland Council of Agency Executives. She is also a member of the Cleveland Marshall College of Law Visiting Committee, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association Board of Directors, and the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center Sing Out! Chorale. Ms. Cotter was a member of the Leadership Cleveland Class of 2011 and previously served on the boards of the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation, the Center for Community Solutions, and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association. She served on the Legal Services Corporation Justice Gap Advisory Committee, Data Project Advisory Committee and Pro Bono Task Force. Her 2007 speech entitled "Justice and Healthy Communities" was published in Vital Speeches of the Day. She was named a 2017 Crain's Woman of Note. She also received the 2017 CMBA President's Award and the 2015 Crain's In-House Counsel Award, non-profit category.
Before joining Cleveland Legal Aid, Ms. Cotter was a consultant to legal aid organizations and their funders, worked for Indiana Legal Services, and Pine Tree Legal Assistance in Maine, where she served as a Skadden Fellow. Ms. Cotter clerked for the Honorable Cornelia Kennedy of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. She received her JD, summa cum laude, from Indiana University School of Law- Bloomington, and her BA, cum laude, from the University of Notre Dame.