Speakers
Leah Ward Sears

Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears

Supreme Court of Georgia

Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears has achieved a distinguished position in Georgia's history. She was the first black woman to serve as a superior court judge in Georgia when she was elected in 1988, and the first woman and youngest person ever to serve on the Georgia Supreme Court when she was appointed by Governor Zell Miller in 1992. In retaining her appointed position as a Supreme Court Justice, she became the first woman in Georgia to win a contested state-wide election. In July 2005, Justice Sears became the first woman to serve as the Chief Justice of the Court.

During her tenure, Chief Justice Sears has spearheaded two major initiatives: the Georgia Supreme Court's Commission on Children, Marriage, and Family Law and the Committee on Civil Justice. The Commission on Children, Marriage, and Family Law was established to address the legal and administrative issues stemming from the increasing fragmentation of Georgia's families, while the Committee on Civil Justice was established to develop, coordinate, and support policy initiatives to expand access to the courts for poor and vulnerable Georgians.

Chief Justice Sears received her undergraduate degree from Cornell University, her law degree from Emory University School of Law, and a master's degree in appellate judicial process from the University of Virginia.

Prior to joining the bench, she was an attorney with the law firm of Alston & Bird.

Chief Justice Sears is the proud mother of Addison and Brennan, the wife of Haskell Sears Ward, and the daughter of Colonel Thomas E. Sears and Onnye Jean Sears.