Evelynne L. Swagerty
2009 Outstanding Alumni
Evelynne L. Swagerty is currently an Assistant General Counsel in the Corporate Legal Department of Bank of America in Boston, Massachusetts. She is a member of the Bank's Litigation Practice Group and has responsibility for the oversight and management of defensive consumer real estate litigation throughout the United States. Prior to her position with Bank of America, Evelynne served as Senior In-House Litigation Counsel with both BankBoston Financial and FleetBoston Financial in Boston, as well as Senior Counsel for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Evelynne is a member of the bar for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Massachusetts and the United States Supreme Court.
Evelynne resides in Sharon, Massachusetts (a small New England community located halfway between Boston, Massachusetts and Providence, Rhode Island) with her husband, the Honorable Wilbur P. Edwards Jr., and their daughter, Marissa, a 17 year old high school junior. Judge Edwards (Harvard College Class of 1971; Boston College Law School Class of
1984) is an Associate Justice for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the Housing Court. Evelynne also has a step-daughter, Arielle, who is a graduate of Vassar College and the Yale School of Drama. The family is active in the Sharon Unitarian Church and other local community civic organizations.
Evelynne is a native of Newport, Tennessee and is the oldest of three daughters born to the late Dennis and Nettie Sue Swagerty. She is also the niece of the late Roland Dykes, Jr., the former mayor of Newport. She is a 1965 graduate of Newport's Tanner High School, the last graduating class from this small segregated school. The 60's were very different times for Tennessee and for ETSU as Evelynne entered the freshman class in the fall of 1965 as one of four African American females to fully integrate the college dormitories. Prior to this time, although classes were fully integrated, the college dormitories were not.
During all four of her college years, Evelynne was an active student involved in a host of extracurricular pursuits, many in a leadership capacity. She was a work study student in her major department, the Department of Social Work. She was a member of the University Marching Band, the University Orchestra, and the University Choir. She was a member of the University Counsel, the campus organization responsible for planning and organizing social activities for the student body. During 1968-1969, she was president of the Women's Counsel, an organization responsible for rule-making for female dormitories. And from 1967 to 1969, she served as president of her dormitory, Dorsett Hall.
Evelynne has had two successful careers - social work and law. Upon her graduation from ETSU cum laude in 1969, with encouragement from her professors, Evelynne departed for Northampton, MA to attend the Smith College School for Social Work, where she successfully completed her studies and was awarded a Master of Social Work in August, 1971. As a young but eager social worker, she applied for and was offered her first job as a psychiatric social worker at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA providing direct psychological treatment to individuals (both adult and children), couples and families.
After practicing social work for approximately nine and a half years, Evelynne became increasingly interested in some of the medical-legal issues she experience in providing direct patient care. As a result, to further this interest, in 1981 she applied for and was accepted as a full time law student at Boston College Law School in Newton, MA, graduating with a Juris Doctorate degree in 1984. In an attempt to combine social work and law, Evelynne worked briefly with the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office training law enforcement personnel in child abuse prosecution. She also worked in hospital management for the Department of Mental Health for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts where she served as Director of Clinical Services for the state's nine psychiatric hospitals.
These professional transitions eventually lead to Evelynne leaving the field of social work completely and entering the practice of law. Evelynne's legal career started with the Department of the Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1988, where she served as an assistant attorney general enforcing the state's consumer protection laws in the areas of banking, commercial transactions, education, and housing and real estate matters. She conducted trials and pursued judgments in the trial courts of Massachusetts and the United States Bankruptcy Court. In 1991, as a result of the economic downturn and the increased failure of many state and federal banks, Evelynne took a position with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation ("FDIC") as Litigation Counsel, where she functioned as a general counsel to several failed banks and their related subsidiaries which were in FDIC receivership. She managed litigation and supervised outside counsel on complex litigation, employment and bank regulatory matters.
As the economy improved and the FDIC wound down its offices in the Northeast, Evelynne moved to BankBoston Financial, and then through merger to FleetBoston Financial, where she was Senior Counsel responsible for management of litigation for all areas of Fleet National Bank and its various retail branches and business lines. Following the Fleet merger
with Bank of America Corporation, she has continued as Assistant General Counsel for the second largest financial institution in the United States, where she is responsible for advising and counseling her clients on extensive and complex commercial litigation filed against the bank. In addition to her job function, she has also held a leadership position with the Legal Department's Diversity Business Counsel promoting diversity within the Bank.
Evelynne is a well regarded member of Boston's legal community. In 2003 and continuing to the present, she was appointed by two consecutive Massachusetts Governors, The Honorable Mitt Romney and The Honorable Deval Patrick, as a Commissioner of the Judicial Nominating Commission for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In this role, she assists in evaluating and advising the Governor on the appointment of new judges for Massachusetts. In addition to the Judicial Nominating Commission, Evelynne was appointed by the Governor and/or the state's Supreme Judicial Court as a Commission Member of the state's Commission on Gender Bias in the Courts, the Commission on Race and Ethnic Bias in the Courts, the state's Citizens' Task Force on Adoption and the Massachusetts Client Security Board. Other Boston area organizations where Evelynne has held leadership positions include the Boston Bar Association where she served as the Chair of the Health Law Section; the Mass Black Women Attorneys Association where she served as a past President; the Women's Bar Association where she served on the Executive Board and as a Committee Chair; and the Boston College Law School Alumni Council and Boston College Law School Black Alumni Network where she served as a member of the Executive Board.