Vanessa Ruiz

Vanessa Ruiz is the President of IAWJ and Senior Judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, the highest court of the District of Columbia (Washington DC). Appointed by the U.S. President in 1994, she is the longest serving woman judge on the court. Prior to her appointment, she was the Chief Legal Officer for the District of Columbia and engaged in the private practice of law for twenty years.

She has served IAWJ in various capacities: President-elect (2016-18); Chair of the Board of Managerial Trustees (2014-2018) and longtime member of the BMT. She is a Past President of the (U.S.) National Association of Women Judges.

Judge Ruiz is a Judicial Commissioner on the D.C. Access to Justice Commission and has actively sought to enhance access for vulnerable populations in the judicial system, including those who lack legal representation. She led the effort of the American Bar Association to establish national standards for language services in courts and developed a curriculum for judges to address obstacles for immigrants in courts.  

Judge Ruiz speaks nationally and internationally on access to justice, judicial independence and ethics and on the indispensable leadership role of women judges.

She is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center (Juris Doctor) and of Wellesley College (Bachelor of Arts in philosophy).



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