JENNY PITTS MANIER
“I’m a servant. I like to serve, be of use.”
The Honorable Jenny Pitts Manier’s leadership has come through dedicating her life to civil service at both the state and local levels. She describes her time in public service as a series of jobs, each of which “were the perfect job for me at the time.”
Jenny grew up in the 1960s during times of “war, racial strife, and bigotry.” Being surrounded by immense societal change she was “always interested in social justice, with the war going on in your living room and everything.” These experiences made a “huge impression” on her as a child and continue to guide and influence her today.
Jenny has demonstrated leadership in both her professional endeavors and in the interpersonal care and concern she enacts. She describes her approach to her work as one grounded in maintaining the “practice of law as serious business” and not always giving her clients “the answer they wanted to hear.”
She currently presides as Judge in the St. Joseph Superior Court in Mishawaka. In addition to serving as a judge, she helps guide and mentor newly-practicing lawyers. She successfully petitioned the General Assembly for the addition of two magistrates to serve the court’s most high-volume divisions. Her court also supervised the Mortgage Foreclosure Settlement Project, which helped 717 homeowners who were facing foreclosure achieve a satisfactory resolution.
Jenny has served as General Counsel for the Indiana Lieutenant Governor and held various positions with the City of South Bend’s Department of Law and the Legal Service Program of Northern Indiana. Jenny’s dedication and work have been honored with two Sagamore of the Wabash awards and a St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce Athena award.
Jenny continues to live her commitment to social justice and to lash out against racism and bigotry by leading a Slavery and Migration study group where members “meet, read a book, eat a meal, and talk.” Modeled after Jesus’ table ministry, the group encourages members to learn from and care for each other. Jenny formed the group with a grant from the St. Joseph County Bar Association after a friend suggested that she might feel less overwhelmed by her commitments if she were to “add something that speaks to your passion,” instead of dropping an activity. Jenny observes that throughout her career, “I was very fortunate to work with great people,” and sharing food with them and others is a pivotal piece of her leadership.
Information compiled from oral history collected by the Michiana Women Leaders Project
Jenny was a 2017 CMWL honoree.