Michigan judge serves as district director for National Association of Women Judges

In January 2019, the Michigan Supreme Court recognized Judge 29th Circuit Court Judge Michelle M. Rick as a judge who gives back and makes a difference. One of the many ways that Rick gives back is by serving as a district director of the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ). As director of District 7, Rick represents Ohio, West Virginia, and Michigan. Rick was appointed to the bench in 2007 following her public service career as an assistant prosecutor, assistant attorney general, and deputy legal counsel to Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Since its inception in 1979, NAWJ has been on a mission to promote the judicial role of protecting the rights of individuals under the rule of law through strong, committed, diverse judicial leadership; fairness and equality in the courts; and equal access to justice. NAWJ membership is open to trial and appellate, administrative, tribal and military judges, on federal, state and tribal courts at every level of the judiciary, throughout the country, and international tribunals, as well as attorneys, law clerks, law students, and law professors.

With Rick's elevation to district director, Zenell B. Brown, the executive court administrator for the Third Circuit Court, and Cori Barkman, first assistant in the Michigan Department of Corrections Division of the Attorney General's Office, assumed the chairperson role of the Michigan Chapter. They are both excited about their roles and creating meaningful programs for members and partners all over the state.

Their inaugural event was a collaboration with the Women Lawyers of Michigan (Wayne, Macomb, Oakland, and the Tip of the Mitt Regions), and that was a huge success. Women lawyers, judges, law students, and allies attended a virtual book tour of "The Memo" on September 25. Michigan, New York, and Ontario women and male allies were on the call to discuss the issue of gender and ally-ship in the workplace with author Minda Harts. Zenell confirmed a follow-up discussion is in the works.

On October 1, the chapter hosted MentorJet and transferred this flagship in-person speed mentoring program onto a virtual platform with the University of Detroit-Mercy Women's Law Caucus. Mentors included practitioners and lawyers. NAWJ President-Elect Judge Elizabeth White of the Superior Court of California and Third Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy M. Kenny were among the judges presiding over breakout rooms sharing career experience and advice with UDM students.

Future NAWJ programming will include The Face of Justice which provides high school age students with the opportunity to meet "faces of justice" in their community in a mentoring setting and a webinar on racial disparities in health care. The Michigan NAWJ Chapter is also preparing to host the 2022 annual NAWJ conference. NAWJ event and membership information may be found at www.NAWJ.org.

Published: Tue, Nov 03, 2020