Alumnus Finds Emory Center for Women a Worthy Investment
by Maria M. Lameiras
Drawn to Emory by the university’s focus on service, Adam Rothwell 96C was active on campus with a number of student organizations by his senior year at Emory College.
A member of Habitat for Humanity, the Student Government Association, the Honors Council Appeals Board, and the Jewish Educational Alliance, he was familiar with planning events and securing funding for projects. When he got a call from Ali Crown 86C, then-director of the Center for Women at Emory, asking for assistance booking a speaker for an event, he was happy to help.
“The Center for Women was trying to bring in feminist author and speaker Naomi Wolf, and Ali was looking for other organizations to co-sponsor the event,” Rothwell recalls.
When he arrived at the center’s offices for a meeting, he was surprised to find them housed in a trailer in the parking lot of the Dobbs University Center.
“It was not unusual for the Jewish organization I was working with to get $30,000 a year from the Student Government Association, and it didn’t seem like the Center for Women was getting that much funding,” Rothhwell says. “Ali gave me a book Naomi Wolf had written—I think it was The Beauty Myth—and some other articles. Ali was so excited to plan this event. They were very appreciative of the help I was giving them and so enthusiastic about what they were trying to do.”
Since that initial encounter, Rothwell has kept up with the center’s growth and has been a consistent annual donor since graduating. Current president of the Emory Alumni Association’s Baltimore chapter, he is impressed with the breadth of programming the center now offers.
“What made a difference for me was that Ali and the other people who were involved with the center were really motivated,” he says. “I can tell the women’s center is very involved on campus, and they do a good job of putting that information out there and keeping supporters informed.”
Founder of an immigration law firm in Baltimore, Maryland, Rothwell says his interest in the profession started when he was working with an Asian tech firm in Silicon Valley in 2000.
“Many of the people I worked with were from Asia and a lot of them had immigration issues. I became interested in it, so I came back to the East Coast to start my own firm,” he says.
Within his practice, Rothwell has observed that the people who most need help frequently are those least able to afford it. “In immigration, the individuals who run the greatest risk of removal often have the least funds. When you help people who really need it, it makes you feel good,” he says. “I enjoy all of my cases, but I am happiest with those cases that change the possibilities of my clients’ lives. Everyone who comes to the Unites States looks at coming here as life changing, but for some people it completely changes the options and opportunities that are available to them. Their entire lives are transformed.”
Asked if he tends to champion the underdog, Rothwell laughs and says, “My wife would say that about me.” He and his wife, Melissa Ann Davey-Rothwell, a 2000 graduate of the Rollins School of Public Health, met in Baltimore. Davey-Rothwell is a research scientist at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Because he sees the CWE continuing to provide needed programs and services to the Emory community, Rothwell is proud to continue his association through his annual support.
“In law school at Washington University in Saint Louis, I was chosen to work with legal services for Eastern Missouri, and I spent a few years working with victims of domestic violence,” he says. “After that experience, it became even more important to me to help a program that was doing something good for women.”
Maria M. Lameiras is senior editor on the staff of Emory Development Communications.