First Contacts: NASJE’s Inaugural Podcast with Tom Langhorne

By Dr. Maureen Conner

Tom Langhorne

I am delighted that the inaugural NASJE podcast is an interview with Tom Langhorne. My contribution is a brief story about the importance of first contact and mentoring. 

As the executive director of the JERITT Project at Michigan State University, NASJE’s State Justice Institute funded research and publication arm, I called all new judicial branch educators on behalf of NASJE for nearly two decades. I welcomed them to the profession and introduced them to the products and services available through NASJE and the JERITT Project. 

In the 1990s, I received notification from The Office of the Executive Secretary of the Virginia Supreme Court that an attorney would become its new director of judicial branch education. His name was Tom Langhorne. I put Tom’s start date on my calendar. 

Early on his first day, I called Tom and welcomed him to a profession that he never knew existed before accepting the job.  Later, Tom told me that my call was the first that he received as the new director and that our conversation launched him on his path to becoming an educator in the courts. From that day forward, Tom and I developed a friendship that has lasted over 25 years. 

He refers to me as his mentor. Truth be told, we probably mentored each other. Why do I say this?  Because we have stood together through multiple phases of our respective lives. We brainstormed and planned our way through professional challenges; supported each other through career changes; consoled each other over the deaths of loved ones; and worked together as consultants, educators, leaders, and change agents across the United States and internationally. Thus, what started as a mentoring relationship between a newcomer by a seasoned professional turned into a lifelong friendship.

I hope my “first contact” experience with Tom will encourage others to embrace new colleagues for the pure joy of it.  You never know where that “first contact” will take you. 

Now I invite you to learn from my friend, Tom Langhorne, in Episode 1 of “NASJE Voices: Conversations about Judicial Education.”