The first and only African American woman to serve as an Ohio Supreme Court justice will lead a local forum to celebrate Women's History Month.

The first and only African American woman to serve as an Ohio Supreme Court justice will lead a local forum to celebrate Women's History Month.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Yvette McGee Brown will be the keynote speaker March 11 at the Ohio University Pickerington Center's annual "Celebrate Women" conference.

McGee Brown's speech is expected to address the conference's theme, "Discovering Sources of Resilience and Rejuvenation" among women. It will be the featured event of a day-long conference, which will include a variety of morning and afternoon sessions dealing with stress, finding physical and fiscal resilience, finding jobs and social networking.

"Given the economy and everything else, these have been stressful times for a lot of people," said Jenny LaRue, director of communications and marketing for Ohio University's Lancaster Campus and Pickerington Center. "We want to talk about that and how to deal with those issues, but we don't want the day to be all about heavier topics.

"That's why we want to mix in topics like what's the proper wardrobe, and appearance advice for when you're looking for a job," she said.

Celebrate Women began locally six years ago with the mission to enhance gender equity through education, enlightenment and inspiration by honoring the past, present and potential accomplishments of women from diverse ages, ethnicities and backgrounds, LaRue said. The event is held during National Women's History Month, designated by the United States Congress in 1987.

This year, the event begins at 8:30 a.m. and concludes with a reception and networking at 2:45 p.m. There also will be an art show and reception from 4 to 6 p.m. Admission to the conference is $20, or $15 for students. The event is open to women and men of all ages.

LaRue said conference organizers are asking people to register in advance because seating for McGee Brown's presentation, to take place at approximately 11:45 a.m., is limited.

To register or obtain more information, contact Cindy Adair at the Pickerington Center, 12933 Stonecreek Drive, or by telephone at (614) 367-9371, or (888) 446-4468, option 3. E-mail registrations also can be sent to adairc@ohio.edu.

"We have two morning sessions and two afternoon sessions," LaRue said. "Our guests may choose up to four different panels or speakers to listen to. We've taken a panel approach because there are so many talented professionals in our community, and because it allows for a question-and-answer period at the end of the discussions," she said.

McGee Brown, a longtime central Ohio child and family advocate, was appointed to the Ohio Supreme Court at the outset of this year by former Gov. Ted Strickland. She took a seat vacated by Maureen O'Connor, making her the court's first and only female African American justice.

An Ohio University alumna, McGee Brown was the first African American elected to the Franklin County Domestic Relations/Juvenile Court. While serving as lead juvenile court judge, she directed the creation of the Franklin County Family Drug Court and the SMART Program, a truancy and educational neglect intervention program.

She retired from the bench in 2002 to create a multi-disciplinary child and family violence program at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Last year, McGee Brown was a candidate for lieutenant governor of Ohio.

McGee Brown has received many awards for her advocacy and community service, including the Champion of Children Award, the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame, and the YWCA Woman of Achievement Award.

"Previously, we had asked Justice McGee Brown to speak and she was not available," LaRue said. "We think she's a good fit, especially with her background in family and children's advocacy.

"She also has a background in politics and she is an historic selection since she is the first African American female to be tapped for the Supreme Court."