Civic engagement with Cleveland is second nature to Sunny Nixon ’11. Growing up in Dover, Ohio, 90 minutes south of Cleveland, she first fell in love with the "The Forest City” when her dad brought her family to Cleveland to attend the annual convention for the Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Association. Nixon recalls being mesmerized by the impressive malls and lakefront that define Cleveland’s downtown.
Decades later, as Board Chair of Cleveland Concert Company, Nixon played an integral role in reimagining the Cleveland Mall park space. She served as organizer of the InCuya Festival, a two-day music festival in August 2018 that featured 20-plus international, national and local acts, including the Avett Brothers, Booker T. Jones, Awolnation, New Order and SZA. Nixon was pleased with the inaugural festival and looks forward to how the festival can expand in future years.
The InCuya Festival is just one of several ways Nixon has invested herself in the city and community she loves. She attended the University in the heart of Cleveland twice, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Cleveland State University, and continuing on to graduate from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.
Nixon will be recognized by CSU on September 28 as the recipient of the law school’s annual Distinguished Alumni Award that is based on outstanding service, leadership and career achievements and bestowed upon the recipient at the Homecoming Week’s signature gala.
In the seven years since receiving her J.D., Nixon has used her degree in a number of capacities that combine her legal expertise and leadership prowess. Her post-law school career started as an Associate General Counsel for Explorys, Inc., a healthcare intelligence cloud company. She later joined healthcare software company CoverMyMeds LLC as Senior Corporate Counsel. In both roles, she was able to facilitate strategic legal and business counsel in a management capacity. Both companies were acquired by Fortune 50 companies during Nixon’s employment.
“I have been fortunate enough to have been able to use my law degree for purpose-driven work, both in the private and nonprofit sectors,” said Nixon. “There are many nuances to serving nonprofit clients, and fortunately, I have talented advisors and mentors to steer me in the right direction. Being able to use my law degree for an organization I believe in really is a gift.”
Nixon is currently involved with the Unify Project, a new nonprofit startup she joined in early 2018 that leverages the power of advanced technology to optimize an inclusive economy. Nixon is the organization’s Chief Administrative Officer and Senior Counsel, where she oversees business operations and advises on strategy. At the Unify Project, she has the opportunity to work with CEO Sharon Sobol Jordan, the daughter of the late C|M|LAW Hall of Fame Member Marilyn Tobocman ’83.
Nixon maintains a small private practice, but her time away from the Unify Project and organizing the InCuya Festival is mainly dedicated to several other civic engagements. She serves on the Advisory Board for The Grocery OHC, on the Board of Trustees for the Cleveland Leadership Center and on multiple committees for the Cleveland Food Bank.
Despite all this, Nixon has managed to stay involved with the law school that she credits for giving her the quality education that has allowed her to the opportunity to attain her goals. She sits on the Cleveland-Marshall Law Alumni Association’s Board of Trustees and is a regular presenter at law school events. She also co-chairs the law school’s mentoring program which pairs every new student with an alumni mentor.
“The commitment Dean (Lee) Fisher has shown to the Alumni Association has been a breath of fresh air, and we are energized about the possibility of supporting our recent graduates and current students,” said Nixon. “Our faculty provided me with a strong foundation for my future, and it is my turn to give back to the school that did so much to contribute to my future.”