About Christina

ABOUT CHRISTINA

Why are you running for Chemung County Legislature?

I am deeply committed to helping Chemung County prosper. My family roots in Chemung County go back several generations on both sides. My parents, who will celebrate their 50 th wedding anniversary this year, started dating in tenth grade when they were attending Southside High School, and my husband and I both graduated from Notre Dame. We are now raising two young daughters. I want to get involved in order to make this area an attractive place to live when they grow up. A community is only as good as its next generation, and we all need to keep working to strengthen Chemung County so that our young people will at least give serious consideration to living and working here.

Tell us about what you did after high school.

I graduated from Notre Dame 1994, and attended Georgetown University in Washington D.C. where I studied Classics and International Relations, played on the woman’s soccer team and was elected to student government. After graduation, most of my classmates either went to Wall Street where the economy was booming, or straight to law school. My Uncle Norman Mordue, a Southside High School graduate who now serves as a federal judge in Syracuse, gave me the best advice I may have ever received, encouraging me to take a few years away from school and professional work to learn a little bit more about our country. Based on this advice, I joined AmeriCorps’ National Civilian Community Corps, and then attended law school at the University of Montana, eventually returning to Chemung County where I have been ever since.

What is AmeriCorps’ National Civilian Community Corps?

AmeriCorps’ National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) is an organization akin to a domestic Peace Corps that allows young people from ages 18-24 to perform community service at various locations across the United States while earning money for future education or to pay off student loans. I served in NCCC for nearly three years – and it was one of the best experiences of my life! During that time my team and I worked with a variety of organizations including Habitat for Humanity in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Branson, Missouri, the Colorado Division of Wildlife in Fruita, Colorado, the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Eastern North Carolina, Rails-to- Trails in St. Louis, Missouri, Texas Disaster Response in Cuero, Texas, Excelsior Juvenile Delinquent Services in Aurora, Colorado, and the Police Activities League in Star, Texas. Serving in NCCC not only allowed me to serve others, but it also enabled me to learn valuable lessons about what makes a community function. Each project allowed me to live and work in a place for up to two months during which I was fully immersed in the community. Through those experiences, I saw firsthand how numerous communities across our nation deal with problems that are every similar to those we have here, something that I believe will help me think creatively as a Chemung County Legislator.

What led you to the University of Montana?

When my service with NCCC ended, I was still unsure about what I wanted to pursue professionally. I had traveled through Missoula, Montana several times by that point, and decided to live and work there for a while in order to figure things out. Within a couple of months, I had a chance meeting with Fritz Snyder, the Dean of Admissions at the University of Montana’s School of Law. We struck up an interesting conversation that quickly segued from a discussion of law and politics to the attributes of Montana Law. After learning about the school, I decided to enroll. The only law school in Montana, it allowed me the chance to do so interesting projects such as draft and lobby legislation in Helena, the state capital, compete in the National Moot Court Finals, and appear in numerous tribal courts.

Why are you raising your family in Chemung County?

During law school I spent one summer interning at the Chemung County District Attorney’s office. Now older, with a better perspective of what makes a great place to live, I was struck by how many wonderful opportunities our area has to offer. Even though I had grown up here, it wasn’t until I returned as a young adult that I understood just how special our community really is. After graduating, I was offered a full-time job at the District Attorney’s office where I met my husband. I worked there for several years where I specialized in prosecuting crimes against women and children, then worked briefly at Davidson & O’Mara before finally joining the Ziff Law Firm where I have been for the past ten years.

Chemung County is an outstanding place to raise a family. As with any community, there are some problems, but overall, it is hard to beat. The beautiful landscape of our area lends itself to countless outdoor activities, and so many dedicated teachers, coaches and volunteers have created a network of educational and recreational activities to serve the needs of all children. As working parents, my husband and I live and work close enough to our children’s schools that we can attend most events, something that really enhances our quality of life.

What do you do at the Ziff Law Firm?

I am a partner at the Ziff Law Firm on William Street in Elmira. At Ziff Law we exclusively handle plaintiff’s cases, meaning we only represent people who have been harmed by the negligence or wrongdoing of another person. The majority of my cases involve medical malpractice. I also handle many other types of cases such as automobile and bicycle crashes, sexual harassment, and constitutional violations. I am involved in several state and national organizations focused on helping plaintiffs. My greatest involvement is with New York’s Academy of Trial Lawyers, the preeminent trial lawyer group in New York. I am a Dean of the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) program, a member of the Board of Directors, and I serve on a small committee that interviews nominees to the New York Court of Appeals and other appellate courts in order to provide feedback to Governor Cuomo before selections are made.

Are you involved in any other organizations?

My parents have always been very involved with the community. Seeing their commitment to the community definitely had a big impact on me. I am currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Arctic League, where I have served as the group’s secretary since 2011. I am also a member of the Board of Directors for the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, named the nation’s top food bank in 2017, as well as Top Drawer 24, a group based out of Watkins Glen that recognizes the top 24 athletes across the region each year. In addition, I was recently named to the Board of Directors of Hoyas Unlimited, the fundraising organization for athletics at Georgetown University. In 2007, I received the Jefferson Award for Public Service.

Speaking of Georgetown Athletics, can you tell us a little more about your experience as a student-athlete?

Along with NCCC, playing soccer at Georgetown was one of the most formative experiences of my life. A relatively new program when I played, Georgetown Women’s Soccer has grown to be one the most powerful teams in the nation, earning a trip to the final four in 2016. I was fortunate to have a lot of athletic success in high school and at Georgetown, where I served as captain and held the scoring records for most career goals, most career assists and most career overall points for more than a decade. Last year, I received the tremendous honor of being the first female soccer player to be inducted into Georgetown’s Hall of Fame, and have previously been inducted into the Halls of Fame for Notre Dame High School, Chemung County and Section IV. I am incredibly fortunate to have had great coaching and mentoring when I was growing up in Elmira. In an effort to give back, I have been a soccer coach with both the Chemung Valley Soccer Association and Soaring Capital Soccer Club, something I intend to continue doing for as long as I can.

What does your husband do professionally?

My husband, Damian, was a Chemung County Assistant District Attorney for nearly seventeen years. He is now an attorney at the Chemung County Department of Social Services where he handles child abuse and neglect cases. Having served as a prosecutor myself, and observing the experiences of my husband, I have a good sense of the aspects of criminal justice where Chemung County excels and places where it could be improved.

Did other members of your family work locally in the field of criminal justice?

Yes. My father worked at the Chemung County Probation Department for nearly forty years, retiring as its Director in 2008. Watching him navigate the system has given me further understanding of how county government can help fight crime.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

At this stage of my life, spending time with my daughters is my very favorite way to spend my free time. As a family, we like to hike and camp, or just cuddle up by our wood stove and play days-long games of monopoly and charades. I am also a committed member of Journey Fitness in Elmira, and I like to run the trails at Tanglewood or by the Chemung River whenever I get the chance.

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