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Judge Ernestine Steward Gray is the 2018 Recipient of the American Bar Foundation Outstanding Service Award

January 17, 2018, Press releases

Jurist and civic leader will be honored at annual event in February

Judge Ernestine Steward Gray

Hon. Ernestine Steward Gray, a longtime judge in the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court in New Orleans, Louisiana, will receive the 2018 Outstanding Service Award from the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation at its 62nd Annual Awards Reception and Banquet on Saturday, Feb. 3 at 6 p.m. at the Vancouver Club, 915 West Hastings St., Vancouver, British Columbia. The banquet is one of several events being hosted by The Fellows of the American Bar Foundation during the Midyear Meeting of the American Bar Association. The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, former Chief Justice of Canada, will deliver keynote remarks.

The Outstanding Service Award is given annually to a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation who has, in his or her professional career, adhered for more than 30 years to the highest principles and traditions of the legal profession and to the service of the public.

Gray was first elected to the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court on Nov. 6, 1984, where she has served with distinction for 33 years. A native of South Carolina, Judge Gray received her early education in the public schools of Orangeburg, S.C. She attended Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga., and Louisiana State University School of Law where she received her J.D. in 1976. Judge Gray was admitted to the Louisiana Bar in 1976. Prior to her election to the bench, Gray was in private practice. She has had an extensive career in government positions, most notably with the Louisiana Attorney General’s office working on antitrust matters, and many years as a trial attorney with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Since the start of her career, Gray has been involved in the juvenile justice arena, working with the Baton Rouge Legal Aid Society where she handled hundreds of family law cases. Gray is past president of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, National CASA, the local YWCA, YMCA and Volunteers of America Boards of Directors. She currently serves as the president of the Pelican Center for Children and Families, a nonprofit organization dedicated improving the quality of legal representation for children and providing interdisciplinary training and education to child welfare practitioners. Gray regularly appears before the state Legislature to speak and provide information on issues relating to youth in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. In addition, she has been invited to speak before committees of the United States Congress.

Her numerous leadership awards include:  2013 CityBusiness Leadership in Law Award; 2011 Louisiana Association of Black Women Attorney’s Trailblazer Award; 2008 Honorary Membership, Louisiana Chapter of the Order of the Coif; 2004 recipient of Spirit of Crazy Horse Award Reclaiming Youth International; 2002 Albert Elias Award for Advancement of Compassionate Care of Troubled Youth, National Council on Crime and Delinquency; 2000 Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, in recognition for achievements that have made the future safer and brighter for children and families in America’s communities; and the 1995 American Bar Association Franklin D. Flaschner Judicial Award.

Rew R. Goodenow, chair of the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation, said, “The Fellows of the American Bar Foundation are especially proud that Judge Ernestine Steward Gray is the recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Service Award. Judge Gray’s career and personal dedication to improving the justice system and enriching her community is the kind of career to which we all aspire, and exemplifies the values for which the Fellows stand.” He added, “The Fellows of the American Bar Foundation are honored by Judge Gray’s presence among us and we look forward to celebrating her distinguished career.”

Event Details:           

  • The Fellows of the American Bar Foundation
  • Annual Awards Reception and Banquet (ticketed event)
  • Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018
  • The Vancouver Club, 915 West Hastings St.
  • Vancouver, British Columbia

Contact:                 


Please find a PDF of this press release here.

Posted by: Lucinda Underwood

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