Continuing our series described in a post on July 8, we are offering reflections on Nina’s impact during the month of July before she retires. Today’s post comes from Michelle Drumbl. Michelle is a Clinical Professor of Law at Washington & Lee and the Director of the Tax Clinic. She writes often on issues involving innocent spouse, EITC and other topics that impact low income taxpayers. She keys in on an important feature that Nina has brought to the NTA position. Keith
Tireless energy: when I think of Nina Olson, these are always the first two words that come to mind. In my twelve years as a Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic director and clinical tax professor, Nina Olson has served as a great inspiration for my client advocacy as well as my academic scholarship.
Each December when the LITC directors gather for the annual grant program conference, Nina gives a keynote address. The conference falls at a time of year when I am busy and distracted. It coincides with the end of the academic semester, when I am thinking of grading and preparing for the new semester. Nevertheless, when it is time for Nina’s keynote, I am energized. Listening to her is like drinking a double shot of espresso: I find myself madly jotting down ideas for cases and educational outreach, or making notes of research studies she references. I have been continually inspired each year as she has identified new issues and challenged the clinics in new ways. I know that I am not alone – Nina has been at the forefront of expanding the LITC movement. Under her watch, the grant program has grown into a robust national network of clinics, resulting in a meaningful embodiment of a taxpayer’s right to retain representation.
I am heartened to learn that, even as she retires from her position as National Taxpayer Advocate, Nina has a vision for continuing her pursuit of taxpayer rights in a different capacity. Taxpayers across the United States are better off for it. Best wishes, Nina, as you continue your journey on behalf of taxpayers. Thank you for your service as Taxpayer Advocate, and I look forward to continuing to cross paths with you in this work.