CORAL SPRINGS, FL – As a girl growing up in Savannah, Ga., Nancy Brodzki still remembers crossing a picket line to attend her all-white school on a day in 1971 when it was integrated with African-American children.
Angry white parents with signs stood for hours demanding African-American children go back to their schools, but Brodzki, a sixth-grader at the time, went ahead with her day at school along with two other white children and more than a dozen African-American children.
“I didn’t mind,” she said. “I remember yelling at a lady with a sign who misspelled the word ‘busing.’”
The incident helped shape the Coral Springs litigator known for speaking her mind, advocating for children in need, and pushing for gay rights -- including her legal challenge to Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage that generated national headlines.
Her upbringing in a broad-minded Jewish family with roots in Eastern Europe made her support underdog political causes, especially those involving vulnerable people.
Brodzki, 60, picked family law as a profession for a reason.
“All lawyers help people,” she said. “But family law is where you can make a tremendous impact on individuals and families.”
The youngest of three siblings (her brother and sister both became journalists who worked for CNN), she has made a life for herself and her family in Coral Springs as she fought for her clients in the complex areas of family law litigation, LGBT family law, adoption, and surrogacy.
She herself has been divorced from a man and remarried to a woman and manages a “blended family,” including an adult child on the autism spectrum.
Through it all, the ties that bind much of her personal life, as well as her professional life, were her crusades against some forms of bias and hate.
“I detest discrimination,” she said. “It’s ugly. It’s the worst thing that humans do to each other.”
A “legal nerd” who enjoys sports and losing herself in a Netflix series, the partner at the Coral Springs-based firm Brodzki Jacobs has done her share of community service, from serving as president of Temple Beth Am in Margate to working as a certified Guardian Ad Litem for children in family cases.
But Brodzki said she’s most proud of her legal battles for marriage and divorce equality and LGBT rights.
She is well recognized for filing in Broward County the challenge to the state ban on same-sex marriage in 2013 on behalf of a woman who married a woman in Vermont but needed a divorce in Florida – which would have been the first same-sex divorce in Florida. That resulted in a successful constitutional challenge in 2014.
“This work, without question, was the pinnacle of my legal career,” she said.
Her legal work, along with other marriage equality cases across Florida, eventually led Florida to overturn its ban on gay marriage in 2015. She was honored in 2017 with the “Champion of Equality” award by SAVE, Florida’s oldest LGBTQ advocacy organization.
Brodzki credits her father for teaching her to stand up for all people.
“My father had the view that no people are superior to others,” she said. “I was blessed to be born into a family where racism didn’t exist.”
Brodzki still has plenty of years left in her family law career, but if she could, she would shift her focus on civil rights law to fight for even bigger causes.
“I’d love to work for the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union),” she said. “This is where you change the world.”
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