Meeting Jane Green Alseth ‘65 is like meeting a force of nature. The passionate, articulate and savvy lawyer, who worked in the profession for more than 40 years, tells it like it is and credits Mercy High School for helping form her as the person she is today. That is why she continues to engage with the school.
Jane’s story is an interesting one. The recently retired attorney who served as a legal counselor for Tenaska since 1998, also worked at Northern Natural Gas, Kiewit and the Federal Land Bank. Some would call her a pioneer. She pursued a career in law at a time when very few women aspired to work in this field. In fact, in her graduating class at Creighton Law School she was one of only six female students. And at her first job she was the only woman in a leadership role and at her second job, she was one of only two women in her department.
“ My father was an attorney and I recall writing a paper in fourth grade announcing to the world that I was going to be a lawyer. Nothing was going to deter me from my dream, even if it was in a male-dominated profession,” she said.
While at Mercy she was on the speech and debate team and fondly remembers Sister Margarita who was the debate coach. She also felt she gained life-changing skills in English, especially in writing and grammar from the school.
“Mercy was THE academic school at this time. The English courses were incredible,” she said.
Alseth received her undergraduate degree in political science and went on to Creighton Law graduating in 1972. Early in her career she recalls encountering prejudice or inappropriate behavior from male colleagues that would not be tolerated today.
“I decided that I was a lawyer—not a woman lawyer—and that I was going to be treated as such,” she said.
Much of that determination was passed along to her from a Catholic-educated family with strong values and a moral compass. Both father and mother led by example and wanted to reinforce their faith by sending their children to Catholic school. Her mother was Betty Phelan Green SJ ’36 and three of her sisters Margaret Green ’69, Mary Kay Green, ’60 and Therese Green Bigelow, ’63 all attended Mercy. Her father felt community service was a civic duty and managed the John and Robert Kennedy campaigns in Nebraska and also ran for mayor.
She remembers her father saying, “All work is noble.” That principle remained with her throughout her career. So did her love of education.
“I believe Mercy produces wonderful women because it facilitates young girls to be everything they can be. The faculty does it in an engaging, spirited and positive way that has a profound impact on the graduates,” she added.
The working mom raised two children—Brian who works at Microsoft in Seattle and Kate who is a teacher in the Omaha public school system. Alseth still loves education and at an energetic retirement age is auditing classes at UNO. She also serves on numerous boards and community groups including the Women’s Center for Advancement, Community Alliance, the Creighton National Alumni Board, JayBackers and The Schwab Center for Israel and Jewish Studies.
This feisty woman believes you have a duty to use your talents and resources for the greater good.
“ I would challenge graduates and their families if they feel Mercy helped them in any way to become the women they are today, then you owe your support to the next generation and you need to do your part,” Alseth said.