Ellen Loughney RLAW’84, who recently received the Honorable Joseph M. Nardi Jr. Distinguished Service Award from the Rutgers School of Law–Camden Law Alumni Association, shares what she’s learned from her 25-year career as a prosecutor and her volunteer work.

Perhaps even more impressive than a 25-year career with the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office is Ellen Loughney’s lifelong commitment to volunteer work. Along with decades of involvement with Rutgers-Camden, Loughney is an officer of the 200 Club of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, which supports families of first responders who die in the line of duty, and a member of the state’s Supreme Court Committee on Character since 2014.

On the role of DNA evidence on her work as chief assistant prosecutor supervising the sex crimes and child abuse unit of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office:

The OJ Simpson trial was probably the first really public trial where they used DNA. Shortly thereafter, for these sex crimes cases, DNA was the thing. Prior to then, it got to the point where if the homicide scene had type O negative blood, and the accused had type O negative blood, juries would convict. That was a match. But now with DNA, and so much more precision, there was far greater accuracy.”

On why she’s been a board member of the Rutgers School of Law–Camden Law Alumni Association for 20 years, including two terms as chancellor:

It’s helped keep me connected to my classmates. It’s also kept me connected with the school itself and the personnel at the school. There are, shockingly, still some professors around who were teaching when I was a student. But most of the professors have come along since. It’s been very nice for me to meet new professors and learn about new programs. There are so many more clinic opportunities now than there were. There are also more law journals. I’ve seen the law school grow from essentially a front row seat. [Rutgers] was a stepping stone to what has been a terrific career for me.”

On her connection to Martin Luther King Jr. Day:

I met the staff director of a subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Post Office and Civil Service. He invited me to do an internship the summer between my second and third year of law school. All of the holiday bills, the commemorative stamps, they go through the committee. The hearings were aided by the staff of the subcommittee where I was interning.

“People like Ted Kennedy and Coretta Scott King were testifying in support of a national holiday bill for Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. We got to write the testimony of many of those witnesses. Then we got the chance to sit back and hear it read back in the chambers. I was actually back at law school when the vote was finally taken and the bill passed.

“It’s always been an exciting thing to be associated with it. Every year I remember the people that it connected me with. And obviously we all think about Martin Luther King Jr., but I also think equally as much about his gracious wife, and about Ted Kennedy, who was probably the largest non-family proponent.”