NAME: Doria Lynch
TITLE: Court Historian and Administrative Specialist FOR: The United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana
SINCE? June 2006
ORIGINALLY FROM? Detroit, MI
YOUR JOB DUTIES INCLUDE? I wear many different hats at the court. Some of my responsibilities include giving tours and handling public outreach and education; overseeing construction projects on behalf of the court; researching historically significant cases and presenting that research at community events at the courthouse; and assisting with special events like our annual Black History Month program. I’m also the contracting officer for the court as well as our emergency preparedness coordinator.
YOU WORK HOW MANY HOURS WEEKLY? 45-50
PROJECT/S YOU ARE MOST PROUD TO HAVE BEEN PART OF? We’re nearing completion of a $70 million renovation of our Indianapolis courthouse- while GSA is our landlord and responsible for the project, the court takes a very active role in reviewing the work that is done and representing the interests of the judges and the public. The last three years have been a real labor of love to protect the building while modernizing its systems. I’m also proud of establishing our school tour program. When I started here we had a tour script but no one to take on the tour! While our tour numbers have been down significantly during the renovation project, we should soon see a great increase in the number of kids coming through the federal courthouse in Indy.
OTHER PROJECTS WE MIGHT RECOGNIZE? I helped edit Finding Indiana Ancestors and contributed to Justices of the Indiana Supreme Court.
WHAT YOU LOVE ABOUT WHAT YOU DO? I enjoy the company and enthusiasm of the people that I work with- both court staff and the public. I’m very fortunate to work with a supportive management team that respects the importance of civic education and of opening the doors of the courthouse to the public. And really, there’s nothing better than taking 30 fourth graders into one of our historic courtrooms and hearing the “Ooooohs!” that escape them.
WORST PART OF WHAT YOU DO? I hate the lack of control I have over certain aspects of construction projects. Delays and poor workmanship drive me nuts, but I can’t do the work myself. If only I knew how to lay carpet, operate a reciprocating saw, and put up drywall!
HOW YOU DEFINE PERSONAL SUCCESS? For me, success is measured in personal happiness rather than wealth or property. To know what it takes to make yourself happy, and then to do what is necessary to achieve that, is the ultimate success. Doing this is not simple or easy.
ADVICE TO SOMEONE ELSE WHO WOULD LIKE TO DO WHAT YOU DO? Apply for a variety of internships and make the most of them, because that’s the best way to explore careers in history. You might think you’d love to be an archivist, but a 6 month internship might help you discover that you’d rather work in education. Internships will introduce you to people and ideas that you’d never come across in a classroom and will give you skills that will be useful in any job you land.
IF YOU WERE GRANTED ONE WISH RELATING TO YOUR JOB/CAREER/ORGANIZATION, WHAT WOULD IT BE? To not be ravaged by budget cuts in the coming years.
WOULDN’T HAVE MADE IT TO WHERE YOU ARE WITHOUT? My mom and dad never bemoaned my decision to study history and pursue it as a career and instead provided nothing but support and encouragement; my husband, who understands that even people who love what they do come home from work in a funk sometimes; and my closest grad school friends, Becca and Meghan, who got me through a difficult first year.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU? Two things: fear and travel. The fear of letting someone down or screwing something up keeps me working hard. The promise of traveling just about anywhere keeps me motivated too.
WHO WERE/ARE YOUR MENTOR(S) AND HOW DID THEY HELP? My boss, Clerk of Court Laura Briggs, has been a great mentor. She’s taught me a lot about workplace diplomacy and also shown a lot of faith in me by giving me new responsibilities. She exemplifies the process of teaching by example, and when the chips are down, she is the one I turn to.
WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN HISTORY? I was lucky to have excellent social studies and history teachers in middle and high school- they really made history come to life by exploring the complexity of the past.
MOST INTERESTING BIT OF INDIANAPOLIS HISTORY YOU’VE ENCOUNTERED? The Jack Daniels Whiskey Conspiracy case, which reads like a Hollywood script, was heard in our Indianapolis courthouse. The conspirators stole 30,000 gallons of whiskey, were involved in a high speed chase just outside of downtown, and were ultimately done in by a bootlegger who turned government witness (and discovered his wife was having an affair with a government Prohibition agent)- awesome!
YOU CAN HAVE DINNER WITH ANYONE FROM INDIANAPOLIS PAST? WHO & WHY? Caroline Harrison (Pres. Benjamin Harrison’s wife). I’d love to know more about her role in renovating the White House (nerd alert!)
YOUR CAREER IN AN ALTERNATE LIFE? Intelligence Analyst for the FBI. Or an astronaut!
ANY INTERESTING FAMILY CONNECTIONS TO INDIANAPOLIS PAST? Nope, I’m a Michigander through and through
FAVORITE VIEW IN THE CITY? The view from the courthouse’s north-side courtrooms looking out onto the War Memorial and up the mall. Beautiful on a summer day!
FAVORITE RESTAURANT IN INDIANAPOLIS? Mmm, Black Market!
FAVORITE CITY BESIDES INDIANAPOLIS? In the States, New York. Abroad, I’ll always have a soft spot for Nuremberg.
FAVORITE HISTORY RELATED BOOK OR MOVIE? Apollo 13.
ULTIMATE BEVERAGE? Soft drink would have to be a fountain cherry Coke. But my true ultimate drink is a raspberry mule- vodka, ginger beer, muddled raspberries, simple syrup and lime. Delicious!
COLLECT ANYTHING? I have a huge collection of Detroit Red Wings stuff. I also receive a lot of pug-related gifts that I adore.
FAVORITE QUOTE? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
IF YOUR LIFE HAD A THEME SONG, IT’D BE? Stevie Wonder’s “Superstitioun”
Who do you know and admire who works in history or preservation? Nominate them to be featured here! Please email feedback (at) historicindianapolis (dot) com; we’ll even include you as the nominator if they consent to participate!
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