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Read the Essay Submitted by Maggie Keenan in the Second Annual Law School Scholarship Contest

Posted  December 14, 2021

The Constantine Cannon whistleblower team is honored to announce this year’s Third-Place Winner of our Second Annual Law School Whistleblower Essay Contest.  The third-place award goes to Maggie Keenan, a professor at (and 2020 J.D. graduate of) Cleveland State University.

Maggie received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Psychology from Cleveland State University in 2000.  She later received her Master of Public Administration from Cleveland State University in 2007.  Nearly a decade later, Maggie received her J.D. from Cleveland State University.  Between graduate school and law school, Maggie was heavily involved with community service work: volunteering for the Free Medical Clinic of Greater Cleveland as a mental health and substance abuse intake assessor, working for Cleveland Leadership Center to assist Cleveland Bridge Builders, and volunteering on the budget management committee for Lake County Free Clinic.

Maggie is quite experienced in the field of budget management.  She worked as a Senior Budget Management Analyst for Cuyahoga County for more than half a decade.  Maggie earned the trust of Cuyahoga County’s office en route to becoming its Director for the Office of Budget and Management.  Following years of impactful contributions, Maggie was terminated in 2019 after she raised concerns about safety issues at the county jail and other misconduct.  Roughly seven months after she was fired, Maggie filed a retaliation whistleblower lawsuit in U.S. District Court.  Last week, on December 6, 2021, Cuyahoga County agreed to pay $550,000 to settle the whistleblower suit.

In her winning essay, Maggie outlines her struggling experience as a whistleblower:

I was progressively excluded by the Administration: my character, credibility, and work product were routinely—and without merit—attacked.  Managing at work became a daily struggle.  I now had to do my job better than ever before because the slightest errors were used against me in ways disproportionate to other senior-level employees.  I had to both anticipate and react to attacks to undermine me and my credibility.  This took a devastating toll on my mental health.

Maggie’s triumphant story stands as an example of the courage, perseverance, and selflessness that is required to be a whistleblower.  Maggie’s commitment to speaking out against and upending what she saw as the unjust status quo in the face of resistance should be revered.  As Maggie writes in her essay: “the overarching charge of the whistleblower is to ensure that organizations operate in a way that aligns both ethically and legally in accordance with all applicable rules and regulations—history confirms that a civil society depends on whistleblowers.”

Maggie’s bravery is a shining example of the important role that whistleblowers play.  Maggie’s story should empower others to stand tall in the face of condemnation.  But more is required to provide whistleblowers with adequate protection.  As Maggie powerfully concludes in her essay, “encouraging would-be whistleblowers to say something when they see something requires systemic and societal change—policies and laws must be enacted to assure whistleblower protection—whistleblowers must be encouraged and celebrated as exemplary employees and public servants.”

You can read Maggie’s complete essay here.

We congratulate Maggie for her third-place essay in this year’s contest.  The Second Annual Law School Whistleblower Essay Contest received close to a hundred entries from dozens of law schools across the country.  It should come as no surprise that Maggie’s inspiring essay found itself among our top contenders.  Maggie’s act of courage and perseverance led to affecting positive change.  It serves as a display of the critical role that whistleblowers play in making the world a better place for all of us.  Bringing light to stories like Maggie’s is at the heart of what our essay contest represents.

Stay tuned as we roll out the second and first-place winning essays over the next couple of weeks.  Watch this space for our launch of next year’s essay contest.

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Tagged in: Correctional Services Fraud, Importance of Whistleblowers, Retaliation, Scholarship,