“It’s important if you spend eight hours a day doing something that you love it.”
Lisa Plencner’s leadership blends mentoring and guidance with being the keeper of institutional memory as the Circuit Court Administrator. A lifetime resident of South Bend, Lisa characterizes her childhood as “gratifying and satisfying.”
Throughout her youth and adolescence, Lisa’s parents treated her and her brother the same way, enacting an ethic of equality. Lisa’s dad took both of them to drag races where Lisa saw Shirley Muldowney race her pink car, demonstrating how women can be both strong and feminine. Her dad reinforced this lesson by telling Lisa that “girls can be anything they want to be.” Lisa notes that in her own childhood, through her parent’s equal division of labor, she saw how “women do exactly the same things men do.”
Lisa began her career in the legal system as a felony secretary. Within a short time however, because of her “appropriate initiative” she was promoted to her current position as Circuit Court Administrator. As an administrator, Lisa supervises a staff of 12, controls the budget and scheduling, provides continuity as a repository of institutional history of the courts, amongst other things. She counts the creation of the Civil Protective Order Court as one of her “proudest achievements.” The only freestanding Civil Protective Court in the state, it helps streamline the process of receiving a civil protective order to help victims better navigate both the court process and the various agencies involved during a “disruptive time in life.”
In addition to leadership through her profession, Lisa has also been a leader in the League of Women Voters at both the local and state levels. Lisa’s involvement with the League began when she noticed the Citizen’s Guide to Representative Government didn’t include listings for the judicial branch. She joined to fix this and within six months was president of the local chapter. During her tenure as president, membership grew to three times its size from when she first joined the League. Lisa was also a Shur Fellow for the League to help with membership and leadership development. Lisa has just completed a two-year term as co-president of the state League.
Lisa also serves on the board of the Volunteer Lawyer Network. She previously served on the board of Unity Gardens and has been involved in “We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution,” a program to promote civic competence and responsibility among elementary and secondary students.
Information compiled from oral history collected by the Michiana Women Leaders Project
Lisa was a 2017 CMWL honoree.