As the nation mourns the loss of Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court, reflections on her impactful legacy echo across the country.

“Weve been so grateful for her service and commitment to our work, so we were certainly saddened by her passing,” said Keith Allred, the Executive Director for the National Institution for Civil Discourse.

O’Connor’s life of service and commitment spanned decades, including her role serving as a founding co-chair for NICD, a non-partisan organization aiming to promote healthy and civil political debate founded by the University of Arizona.

“It has a sad quality to it in the sense of how much the nation misses and needs the kind of leadership she provided,” Allred remarked.

Allred highlighted O’Connor’s cerebral approach to political decisions during her 24-year term on the U.S. Supreme Court.

“That led to her playing this pivotal role where she was continually the swing vote on the biggest decisions before the court,” he said. “So she was arguably the most powerful woman in the country.”

O’Connor voted on some of the country’s most controversial issues, including affirmative action and abortion. Allred stated, “she is a model for how you navigate those difficult decisions.”

Despite some of her majority opinions being reversed by a more conservative Supreme Court, Allred believes O’Connor’s willingness to never give up, rooted in her upbringing on her family’s cattle ranch, is the true legacy and blueprint she leaves behind.

“It created in her a high standard for herself that theres not any excuses, get the job done. And we could probably use a little more of that today.”

In 2009, O’Connor, who had been battling dementia since 2018, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her role in paving the way for women to join a Supreme Court that historically was reserved for men.