I am just settling down after an exciting and fast-paced October. IAWJ held its board meeting in Fez, Morocco in conjunction with the Regional Symposium of African Judges which was themed Social and Professional Guarantees of Women Judges in Africa.  Special thanks to the Kingdom of Morocco and Judge Mina Sougrati for all of her hard work planning and hosting us in her country. It gave us all a preview of the hospitality we will receive when Morocco hosts the 2022 IAWJ Biennial Conference.

After returning from Morocco, I was off to Los Angeles, California where NAWJ held its board meeting in conjunction with its 41st Annual Conference from October 15th -19th. The program, titled City of Angels, City of Dreams: Looking Back, Looking Forward: A Century of Women’s Progress, was attended by over 600 judges. We also welcomed forty-one judges representing twenty-one countries, most of whom were sponsored by the U.S. State Departments/ INL office or their countries respective U.S. Embassies/INL. This year’s conference chair was Judge Elizabeth Allen White, who sits on the California Superior Court, County of Los Angeles.

The international judges were taken on a day-long tour of the courts prior to the conference opening and ended the day with an International Judges Reception followed by a Welcome Reception for all attendees. The next morning, our NAWJ President, Judge Tamila E. Ipema opened the conference with Welcome Remarks. We were also honored to have remarks from our IAWJ President Judge Vanessa Ruiz. The conference program topics included DNA Testing; Hot Topics in U.S. Immigrations Policy; Protecting our Elders; Judicial Security; Restorative Justice; Successful Reentry; Judicial Independence; Ethics for International Judges to Human Trafficking, to name a few.

The conference concluded with an Awards Banquet where we presented the 41st Annual Conference Recognition Award to Judge Elizabeth Allen White; the Joan Dempsey Klein Honoree of the Year Award to Judge Holly J. Fujie, Superior Court of California, County Of Los Angles; the Normal Wikler Excellence in Service Award to Annette Boyd Pitts, Director, Justice Teaching Center for Civic Learning; the Florence K. Murray Award to Jerrilyn Malana, Esq., Chief Deputy District Attorney for Human Resources, San Diego County District Attorney’s Office; the Mattie Belle Davis Award to Shibani Malhorta, Senior Justice Advisor, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, U.S. State Department and the Lady Justice Award to Kathy Ireland, world renown  business entrepreneur and author.

The conference ended with a farewell from the outgoing NAWJ President, Judge Tamila E. Ipema and the Swearing-in and Remarks of the Incoming President, Judge Bernadette D’Souza who sits in the Parish of Orleans, Civil District Court, Louisiana. What an amazing conference! Thanks to the entire planning committee. The conference was not only an opportunity to learn and exchange best practices, it is also an opportunity to connect with valued friends and make new acquaintances.

We have been fortunate to have had the remarkable leadership of Judge Tamila E. Ipema and are looking forward to Judge Bernadette D’Souza’s term as she continues the tradition of amazing leaders carrying the organization forward as the leading voice of women in the judiciary.

Our Mid-year conference will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana from March 11th-13th, 2020 and our Annual Conference, The Music of Equality, will be held in Nashville, Tennessee from October 12th-16th, 2020. I look forward to seeing many of you there!

This blog post was submitted by Judge Lisette Shirdan-Harris, North American Delegate.