Katie Jo Luningham
B.A. ’11, Atlanta, Georgia
Katie Jo Luningham (née Baumgardner) is an attorney at Alston & Bird in Atlanta. Luningham will join Alston’s Dallas/Fort Worth offices in 2021 when her husband Justin, B.A. ’09, begins his new role as Assistant Professor of Biostatistics at the University of North Texas Health Science Center.
Luningham practices civil litigation and appellate law. She represents institutions of higher education and also defends clients in privacy & data security litigation. Luningham previously served as a law clerk for Judge Branch on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Prior to clerking, she worked at Husch Blackwell in Kansas City, where she specialized in higher education litigation and regulatory compliance.
Luningham has served as an alumni-elected regent on Baylor’s Board of Regents since 2018 and has been a member of the Audit, Compliance & Regulatory Affairs, Finance & Facilities, Student Life, and University Leadership & Compensation committees. Luningham also serves on the national board of the U.S. Senate Youth Program Alumni Association.
Awards and Honors
In 2019, Luningham delivered the keynote address at the Baylor Academic Honors Convocation. In 2017, she was a member of the legal team that won the Education Law Association’s Award for “Best Brief.” In 2015, Luningham was awarded a Burton Distinguished Writing Award by the U.S. Library of Congress for Excellence in Legal Writing for her article on Higher Education and Administrative Law. She earned a JD, magna cum laude, from Notre Dame Law School, where she won the NDLS First-Year Moot Court Tournament and received the Dean’s Award for Legal Writing and Law of Education.
A Crane Scholar during her studies at Baylor, Luningham has continued to support the Institute for Faith and Learning and the Crane Scholars Program. The Luninghams also support Baylor’s University Scholars and Honors College Excellence Funds.
Church/Christian Mission Affiliations
The Luninghams are members of Intown Lutheran Church, a Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) church plant in downtown Atlanta. They have been active supporters of the “Thai Village” mission non-profit since 2011, where Katie Jo previously served as a volunteer in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Questions and Answers
Note: Baylor University is pleased to provide additional information via online exclusive Q&As with each Alumni-elected Regent candidate.
1. Baylor University’s mission is “to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community.” How is that mission meaningful to you?
I truly believe that Baylor’s mission is more than just a public statement of our values—it is the core of Baylor’s culture. Baylor provides an active and vibrant student experience and a rigorous educational environment that focuses on faith, learning and leadership development. When I was a student at Baylor, I learned from some of the brightest minds in academia, grew in my faith, developed my leadership skills through Student Government and Baylor Ambassadors and spent my free time attending basketball games in the Bear Pit—and I know that my own well-rounded experience parallels that of so many Baylor alumni who found their home within Baylor’s caring community. Through the multitude of opportunities to grow inside and outside of the classroom, Baylor provided a holistic collegiate experience that shaped who I am today.
To put it simply, the Baylor mission is meaningful to me because I am a product of the Baylor mission. I believe it is crucial that the University remains committed to living out the Baylor mission so that our students can continue to thrive in an educational environment that focuses on faith and learning.
2. How have you attempted to make a difference in your professional and personal communities?
In my profession, I devote hundreds of hours each year to pro bono legal work (providing free legal services to those in need) and to volunteering. In my personal community, my biggest commitment to making a difference has been through my involvement in my church. My husband and I attend a growing church plant in urban Atlanta that focuses on community outreach and supporting local faith-based charities. We band together with our small congregation to support these charities and, during the pandemic, we hosted weekly Bible studies in our backyard. Whether I am mentoring law students, volunteering for local charities and professional organizations or serving my church, I believe in making a difference by devoting my time and talents to giving back to my community.
3. As a board member, what perspectives, skills, interests and relationships would you bring to the board?
For the past three years, I have served as an Alumni-elected Regent and have spent that time developing relationships with the Baylor Administration, seeking input from alumni across the country and learning how the Baylor Board of Regents operates. Professionally, I have spent my legal career practicing higher education law and defending colleges and universities across the country. This professional experience has been particularly helpful during my time on the Board’s Compliance and Audit Committees because I understand the legal climate surrounding institutions of higher education. I also am the daughter of two community college professors, and my husband is a professor at a public R-1 research institution. Through his career path, I have gained a deeper understanding of the research demands and expectations that accompany Baylor’s goals of reaching R-1 status. In sum, I understand Board governance, legal and student issues facing higher education and faculty perspectives.
As I have for the past three years, I will continue to bring a distinctly different perspective to the Board of Regents: that of a young alumna and legal professional who is deeply integrated into the world of higher education.
4. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received, and who gave it to you?
The best piece of advice I have ever received was given to me by my mom, who told me to “always be the most prepared person in the room.” What made this advice so impactful was the fact that I spent my life watching her be the constant embodiment of her own advice during 18 years of service as a publicly elected trustee at her alma mater. Her advice became a mantra that has guided me since I was first elected to the Board in 2018.
In practice, “being the most prepared person” in the Baylor Board room means that I dedicate time each day to staying informed about the latest developments in higher education law. Because most of my day job involves defending colleges and universities, I am acutely aware of the legal, regulatory and compliance issues that institutions of higher education face. I have also learned about the ins and outs of academia from those close to me who work in higher education. If re-elected, I will remain committed to being “the most prepared person” in the Board room.