Contributor

Victoria Kolakowski

Judge and Transgender role model.

Victoria Kolakowski is the first openly transgender trial court judge in the United States; she was elected to the Alameda County Superior Court in November 2010.

As a judge, she has served in both civil (asbestos and unlawful detainer) and criminal trial assignments. She currently presides over misdemeanor trials, felony preliminary hearings, and hears small claims appeals for northern Alameda county.

She is passionate about ensuring and expanding access to justice, particularly for those with limited resources. She serves on the Judicial Council of California’s Advisory Committee on Providing Access and Fairness, and is the California Council of Churches’s appointee to the California Commission on Access to Justice, where she co-chairs its court fees committee. She chairs the Alameda County Superior Court’s Self Represented Litigants Committee.

She is the President of the International Association of LGBT Judges, and is the immediate past President of the Earl Warren American Inn of Court chapter.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in natural sciences degree from New College of Florida, a Master of Science in bio-medical engineering from Tulane University, a Master of Science in electrical engineering from the University of New Orleans, a joint Juris Doctor and Master of Public Administration (emphasis on budget and finance) from Louisiana State University, and a Master of Divinity from the Pacific School of Religion.

She was an attorney for twenty one years in Louisiana and California, serving as a sole practitioner, attorney in a small firm, as general counsel for a publicly traded company, as a senior government utility regulatory attorney, and as an administrative law judge for two different California agencies.

Since coming out publicly in 1989, she has been a leader in numerous local, state and national LGBT legal, political and spiritual organizations. Her many accomplishments include co-authoring Berkeley, California's domestic partner public registration ordinance in 1991 and co-chairing the board of directors of the Transgender Law Center, an organization focused on the well-being and protection of transgender individuals.

In 2011, she served as a Community Grand Marshal for San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride, was named by the Equality Forum as one of 31 international Icons for LGBT History Month, and received Equality California’s Equality and Justice Award. In 2012, she received the Vanguard Award from the Transgender Law Center. In 2014, she received the first “Pioneer in the Law Award” from California Women Lawyers, was the honored guest of Transgender Equality Network Ireland’s at Dublin Pride, and was Special Guest at Greater Palm Springs (California) Pride. And finally, in 2015 she was honored by the Alameda County Bar Association with its annual Distinguished Service Award for a Judge.

She lives in Oakland with her wife Cynthia Laird, their Pembroke Welsh Corgi Darby, and cat Espresso.

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