Rita McNeil Danish

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Strategic Business Partner ColumbusChicago


Rita serves as a trusted advisor to lead her clients down the unconventional path to successful outcomes. She is a savvy problem solver, legal strategist, and committed advocate. In addition to managing a thriving legal practice, Rita also serves as Taft’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Strategic Business Partner. In this role, she is a leader, advisor, advocate, and catalyst for change, and focuses on infusing DEI into Taft’s culture across our offices and in the communities that we serve.

Her vast matrix of experiences in the public and private sectors have made her keenly adept in municipal law, crisis management, and government contracting, as well as government affairs and personnel/human resources. Rita serves those in the corporate community who need assistance navigating public sector organizations that are owned and operated by government entities, with an emphasis on procurement. She also provides advice and counsel to organizations in the public sector, requiring legal counsel who understands the nuances of government law. She brings her passion to empower economic growth in local communities through diversity and inclusion work with small, women- and minority-owned businesses.

Rita has significant hands-on public and private experience from serving in a variety of roles, including:

  • Judge and Magistrate, Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic and Juvenile Divisions
  • City Attorney for the cities of Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, and Greensboro, N.C.
  • Vice President of Government Affairs, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber
  • Section Chief, Civil Rights Division, Ohio Attorney General’s Office
  • Chief Legal Counsel, Ohio Department of Commerce
  • Assistant Deputy Legal Counsel for Governor George V. Voinovich

Active in the community, Rita contributes her legal knowledge to multiple causes and diversity and inclusion organizations. She was appointed to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission to serve a term from 2021-2025. Rita is a member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. (NCBW), a group that advocates on behalf of black women and girls to promote leadership development and gender equity in the areas of health, education and economic empowerment. She is also a board member for the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), which provides supportive services for abused and neglected children. She previously served as vice president and board member of Ohio’s Minority Development Finance Advisory Board, which assists in creating employment opportunities and wealth in the minority business community. Rita also served as the first president of the St. Vincent de Paul Charitable Pharmacy Board in Cincinnati, a group that provides a last resort safety net for those who have no other way to access their prescription medication. Rita aided the Supreme Court of Ohio and the Ohio Judicial System’s Board of Commissioners on Character & Fitness. The board is responsible for ensuring that each applicant for admission to the practice of law possesses the requisite character, fitness and moral qualifications for admission.

Rita has been an inspiring influence in the legal studies classroom, teaching the following courses:

  • Legal Writing, The Ohio State University College of Law
  • Business Law, Central State University
  • Administrative Law, Wright State University Masters of Public Administration
  • Municipal Law, Annual Conference of the International Municipal Lawyers Association

Rita graduated cum laude with a Bachelors of Business Administration from Howard University. She received her Juris Doctorate from The Ohio State University College of Law. Rita is admitted to practice law before the United States Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of Ohio, the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.


  • Honoree, Best Lawyers in America, Government Contracts,

    Government Relations Practice (2021 - present)

  • Appointed to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (2021-2025)

All Service Areas


  • The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
  • Howard University


  • State - Supreme Court of Ohio
  • Federal - U.S. Supreme Court
  • Federal - 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Federal - Southern District of Ohio
  • State - Illinois
  • State - Supreme Court of Illinois

Speeches and Publications


  • Moderator, “Negotiation Hot Topics: What Lawyers Need to Know to Succeed,” ACC Chicago Summit, Aug. 30, 2022.
  • Presenter, "Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Best Practices for Your Workplace," Ohio Chamber of Commerce DEI Webinar, April 28, 2022.
  • Co-presenter, “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Recruiting and Retaining Diverse Talent in a Changing World” at the 2022 Business Tax Conference sponsored by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Jan. 26, 2022.
  • Speaker, “Disparity Studies,” International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA), Nov. 16, 2021.
  • Panelist, “Recruiting and Retaining Diverse Talent in a Changed World,” ACC Chicago Summit, Sept. 1, 2021.
  • Speaker, “Opening ‘White’ Spaces to Include All Faces - Fostering True Inclusivity in Women’s Groups,” Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association and the Ohio Women’s Bar Association, March 31, 2021.
  • Speaker, “There is a Crisis: What to Do,” WELD 2019 National Leadership Conference, June 2019.
  • Panelist, “Advanced D&I: Practical Solutions for In-house Counsel to Promote Diversity and Inclusion,” ACC Chicago Summit, April 4, 2019.


  • Author, "Contracting in a New World Requires New Tools," Municipal Lawyer, International Municipal Lawyers Association (2022).
  • Author, "Contracting in a New World Requires New Tools," The Procurement Lawyer Newsletter, Fall 2021.
  • Quoted, “Columbus announces next steps to address ethnic and gender disparities in contracts,” Columbus Dispatch, June 23, 2021.
  • Author, “Trailblazing Legislation: Senate Bill 2610,” Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council Newsletter, Spring 2019.
  • Author, “The ‘Occupy Movement’ and Regulating Public Spaces,” Municipal Lawyer, International Municipal Lawyers Association (2012).
  • Author, “Municipal Subdivision Liability under Section 1983 in Perino, J.C., Citizen Oversight of Law Enforcement, Chicago,” American Bar Association, 97-113 (2006).

Professional Affiliations

  • American Bar Association

    Chair, Public Contracts Committee, State and Local Government Section

  • Ohio State Bar Association

    Former Chair, Women in the Profession Section

  • Columbus Bar Association


  • Women Lawyers of Franklin County


  • Black Women Lawyers Association of Greater Chicago, Inc.


  • International Municipal Lawyers Association


Community Involvement

  • Ohio Civil Rights Commission

    Commissioner, 2021-2025

  • National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

    Member, Board of Directors

  • Ohio Chamber of Commerce

    Member, Board of Directors

  • Women for Economic & Leadership Development

    Chair-elect, Board of Directors

  • Matriots Political Action Committee

    Vice Chair

  • National Civic League

    Member, Board of Directors

  • Women’s Small Business Accelerator

    Member, Board of Directors

  • Minority Development Financing Advisory Board (MDFAB)

    Former Member