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Keirston Woods '96, Real Estate Law

Keirston Woods ’96 had a strong interest in politics and community organizing, an interest she put into action through her volunteer work with the NAACP Youth Council.
When she started at Duke University after graduating from Bryn Mawr, it didn’t take her too long to realize that a career in law might be a good way to incorporate these interests in her future work. “For me there was a clear connection between law and politics, law and civil rights, all the things that were important to me,” Woods says.

Yet Woods is the first to admit that the direct path she envisioned has not unfolded quite as she imagined. Soon after enrolling in her first constitutional law class at George Washington University, she realized that civil rights law was not the right fit for her. What she did enjoy, though, were the legal aspects of complex real estate transactions. Today, Woods has translated this interest into her work as a partner at the law firm of Bryant, Miller & Olive in Washington D.C. Her practice includes public finance, real estate, affordable housing and corporate trust and default. Although these are areas she didn’t learn about in high school, Woods says it was her Bryn Mawr education that gave her many of the skills she needed to be successful in her chosen profession. “My ability to problem solve, which is primarily what I do for my clients, my drafting skills, and my confidence and social skills,” Woods says. “Those are the things that have given me the foundation that has made me successful in the career I am in today.”

Outside of work, Woods has found ways to maintain strong ties to her community, including serving on the board of a charter school in D.C. In addition, she is an active member of the alumnae community, returning to Bryn Mawr most recently in early 2016 to meet with a group of black students about diversity issues. While Woods says that a tremendous amount of progress has been made in this area since her student years, she still sees work to be done. The question, she says, is, “How do you create an environment for a minority subset that is comfortable, supportive and nurturing for what their desires are?”

After the meeting, Woods was inspired by how invested the students she met were in thinking about diversity beyond their own experiences. “I was quite impressed with their concern with diversity as a whole and the value that overall diversity gives to the Bryn Mawr environment,” Woods says.
She plans to stay in touch with these students to help in any way she can. “Connecting with Bryn Mawr is important because my experience here was a really good one,” she reflects. “I want to make sure that I am giving back – or paying it forward – and that the experience here is evolving into the best experience it possibly can be for the students who are here now.”