FOR THE STEELE FAMILY, ALL ROADS LEAD BACK TO DICKINSON LAW
Kevin Steele ’92 likes to joke that he owes Penn State Dickinson Law for more than just his degree. He also has the school to thank for his marriage.
Shortly after graduating, Steele accompanied his father and fellow law school alum, J. Rodman Steele, to Carlisle for the invocation of a new dean. Tracy Steele ’95, then president of the Student Bar Association and no relation to the other two Steeles, delivered a rousing speech at the event. Afterward, several people even approached the elder Steele to praise the eloquence of his “daughter.”
Kevin found the coincidence so amusing that by the end of the event, he had secured an introduction to Tracy. A few years later, the two got married — whereupon, Kevin tells people, he took his wife’s last name.
All kidding aside, “we owe our marriage to the connection to the law school,” Kevin Steele says.
They have remained involved with Dickinson Law in the years since by supporting the alumni association and the Steele Family Scholarship while also raising their three children and thriving in their careers. Tracy became a real estate lawyer, and Kevin is the district attorney for Montgomery County.
In fact, you may have seen Steele on television recently. Since being elected in 2015, he has prosecuted two of the country’s highest-profile cases — and won them both. Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane was convicted of perjury and abusing her office, and a jury found comedian Bill Cosby guilty of three counts of sexual assault.
Were the cameras distracting? Not for Steele. “I just did my job. I kept my focus on what I needed to do, not letting outside influences interfere with what we were doing, and we got to hear a jury come back and convict,” he says.
Steele knew before he enrolled at Dickinson Law that he wanted to be a prosecutor. As an undergraduate, he worked for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C. During his first week, a prosecutor he was working with in the office was getting death threats during a contentious drug case. Steele accompanied the prosecutor to court during the trial.
“I saw what he did and was attracted to that path and the excitement of the job, and it has not slowed down since,” he says.
Steele, who just finished a stint as president of the Penn State Alumni Association, oversees 150 people as DA. During his downtime, he coaches his children’s many sports teams, so perhaps it’s little wonder he also devotes time to “coaching” the next generation of lawyers.
He teaches at Cabrini University and the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Institute, where Steele advises students on the importance of getting involved at the investigatory level to earn justice for a victim’s family. “I look back on my professors and the people I got to learn from over the years, and I appreciate them bringing that practical investigative side to the classroom,” he says.
Whether he’s advising Little Leaguers or young prosecutors, Steele knows it’s not just about imparting knowledge.
“It’s the confidence you try to build in them that they can do something, and at times do things that are extraordinary,” he says.
The Cosby and Kane convictions certainly qualify as extraordinary moments, and Steele appreciates the “coaching” he had in his own life that helped get him there.
“My work life, my home life — I owe much of that to my experiences at Dickinson. It’s how I met my wife. It led me to doing a job I love to do,” he says. “If I can give back in some way, it’s wonderful to be able to be involved and make a difference in the lives of current students and alumni.”