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Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School
Judge Ann Claire Williams Dedicates time and expertise to improving access to justice for survivors of gender-based violence

Judge Ann Claire Williams was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. After graduating law school, Williams clerked for Judge Robert Sprecher of the U.S. Court of Appeals. She then went on to work as an assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago from 1976 to 1985. In 1985, President Ronald Reagan appointed Williams to serve as the first African American woman on the Federal District Court in Illinois.

In August 1999, President Clinton nominated Judge Williams to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which made her the first African American ever appointed and the third African American woman to serve on any federal appeals court. Earlier that year, Williams also became president of the Federal Judges Association (FJA) and served for two years as the first African American elected to that position. Today, she continues to promote the independence of the judiciary as a member of the Executive Committee of the FJA.

Judge Williams has led various educational and training programs for judges, practicing attorneys, and law students. In addition to her domestic teaching and training, Judge Williams volunteers her time to improve judicial systems across the globe, especially to increase access to justice for survivors of gender-based violence. Most recently, Judge Williams has partnered with law firms and NGOs to offer judicial trainings in Liberia and Kenya on the implementation and application of their laws to protect women against intimate and domestic violence.

In 2008 for her outstanding work in the legal field as well as for paving the way to success for women attorneys, Williams received the Margaret Brent Award from the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession.

Judge Williams is furthering her work toward improving access to justice for survivors of gender-based violence by serving as a member of the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice Steering Committee. To read more information about Judge Williams, visit her bio page here.