Leadership Corner

Meet the IAWJ President, Hon. Vanessa Ruiz.

Upon being sworn in as IAWJ President, Hon. Vanessa Ruiz commenced her presidency noting that values of “liberal democracy that accept the rule of law, human rights and inclusiveness” are being rejected in a number of countries; that judges and courts, the safeguards of these values, are under challenge and attack. “To make equal justice a reality, there needs to be a framework of democratic values. We judges cannot do our work unless those conditions exist, unless those values are accepted and are the guiding principles of all of our societies. We need to raise our voices in defense of those values.”

On May 5th 2018,  Hon. Vanessa Ruiz, Senior Judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, was installed as the President of the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) at its 14th International Biennial Conference in Buenos Aires Argentina. The conference carried the theme of “Building Bridges between Women Judges of the World” and hosted over 900 judges from 78 countries across the globe.

Judge Ruiz was appointed to the bench in 1994 by President Bill Clinton.  She is the first and only Hispanic to serve on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Judge Ruiz is a past President of the US National Association of Women Judges and former chair of the IAWJ’s Board of Managerial Trustees. In addition to her involvement with the IAWJ, Judge Ruiz is a Judicial Member, District of Columbia Access to Justice Commission;  Trustee, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Born in Puerto Rico; fluent in English and Spanish. Graduated Wellesley College and Georgetown University Law Center.

Founded in 1991, IAWJ is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that brings together judges from all levels of the judiciary worldwide, creating a powerful network of influential leaders united by their commitment to equal justice and the rule of law. Through judicial and community level response, we address issues of gender-based violence, human trafficking, early and forced marriages, corruption, and discrimination in employment, inheritance, education, and health services.  While the role of judges is largely in enforcement of law, guaranteeing rights, and even striking down discriminatory laws and practices, IAWJ members go further by providing expert opinion in law reform, overseeing correctional or other facilities (e.g., reform schools, orphanages), and educating community members.

IAWJ Past Presidents