PREVIOUS CLEO EDGE AWARD HONOREES
2021 CLEO EDGE Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. Heritage Award RECIPIENT
Cassandra sneed ogden
As the leader of the Council on Legal Education, Inc. (CLEO) for 25 years, Cassandra Sneed Ogden received consistent praise for her stewardship of the organization during her tenure from the CLEO Board of Directors, students, and industry peers alike. In 2013, she was recognized by “On Being a Black Lawyer” as a member of their “Power 100” list, which recognized the 100 most influential African-American lawyers in the country. Moreover, within that list, she was recognized as one of the nation’s “Pipeline Builders.”
In 2018, Ms. Ogden received one of the inaugural CLEO EDGE awards for her contributions to further Education, Diversity, and Greater Equality in the legal profession. Both awards speak to Ms. Sneed Ogden’s investment in the diversity pipeline throughout her career and guidance in preparing students at every level—from high school to post graduate school—to pursue their law school dreams. She also authored multiple articles addressing the importance of women and diversity in the industry. Because of her influence, hundreds of young women of color were inspired to matriculate law school.
Throughout her extensive career, Ms. Ogden unceasingly used her position as CLEO’s head to advocate for diverse and underrepresented persons to join the legal profession. This was especially true with respect to her persistent encouragement of women to partake of CLEO’s various programs and service offerings. Since 2000, nearly 70% of CLEO participants have been female. Many CLEO alumnae have personally stated how instrumental and impactful the guidance they received from Ms. Ogden was to providing a successful path to the profession. Whenever speaking at select industry conferences and events, she often spoke of the importance of ensuring that aspiring female attorneys understood that the profession was in dire need of the unique and diverse viewpoints they brought to the table. Further, she implored them to look at their gender as an asset versus a detriment.
Ms. Sneed Ogden is an exemplary role model as she herself broke glass ceilings having been admitted to Georgetown Law Center when the law school population did not include many females, let alone females of color. In fact, in her own class section, she was only one of twelve minority women. In addition, she was balancing marriage and rearing two children, while still having to focus on her studies, not to mention working professionally as a Middle School teacher. Studying mostly at night and weekends, she has expressed gratitude for the support she received from her husband and her mother to make it all the way through to the end of law school. Though the road was a lonely and at times overwhelming one, through sheer hard work, self-motivation, and grit, she successfully completed her law school journey. She graduated Georgetown Law in 1981 and subsequently passed the District of Columbia bar that same year. She completed the Maryland bar in 1982, on the first try. Through her own story and her work , she has impacted many future women attorneys.