Reflections on the impact of Nina Olson by Erin Stearns

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We welcome Erin Stearns, Associate Professor of the Practice of Law and Director of the Low-income Taxpayer Clinic at University of Denver Sturm College of Law. She has directed that clinic now for several years and become an important member of the low-income tax clinic community. Keith

The first time I heard Nina speak was at the 2012 Annual Grantee conference. I’d been working at the University of Denver LITC for just a couple months and spent most of that conference feeling I was treading water trying to grasp the issues other clinicians were discussing. In her speech, Nina conveyed tremendous passion for the issues, and the critical importance of the work we do for taxpayers and communities. While she was speaking, I realized I was in exactly the right place, right job, and right community, even though I had a big learning curve ahead of me.

Since then, Nina has come to occupy a place of heroism in my world. Many of my students – to whom I refer to Nina as my “Tax Hero” (really) – now know who Nina is and of the critical importance of the work she has done. She has regularly motivated me with her unapologetically high expectations for all Taxpayer Advocate Service staff and members of the LITC community. For years and through incredibly challenging times at the IRS, Nina has shown us the very best example of an advocate, leading with intelligence, wit, compassion, and perseverance. Yep, still my Tax Hero.

I join many, many people who were sad to learn Nina was retiring – she leaves very big shoes to fill as NTA. However, I’m delighted to learn she’ll continue to be involved in the tax world through her nonprofit and am certain she will continue to find platforms from which to advocate and improve tax law and administrative operations of the IRS. Nina, thank you for all you’ve given us – I am so excited to see what you do next!

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