Ernestine Steward Gray
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.