Pam Washington Hero Crop

Pamela Washington

First Black Female Judge in Alaska

The Honorable Pamela Washington was born in New Orleans in 1963. When she was 12, her family moved to Alaska. She attended Clark Middle School and Chugiak High School. She graduated in 1980, the only Black girl in her class. Spending her early years in a diverse community in New Orleans, Pam says “I had no idea I was a minority until I came to Alaska.”

Pam attended Northern Arizona University to pursue a BA in Broadcast Journalism. She moved to Los Angeles shortly after and decided to pursue a second degree to open more professional doors. She graduated from Arizona State University College of Law in 1991, and moved back to Alaska, where she clerked for Alaska Superior Court Judge John Reese.

After her clerkship, she operated a private practice for 14 years and, in 2010, was appointed as a judge by former governor Sean Parnell. It didn’t occur to her that she was the first Black female judge in Alaska until she saw it reported in the newspaper. “I’m so young,” she says. “How can I be the first of anything?”

As a mother, lawyer, judge, and advocate, Pam is passionate about helping Alaska’s youth. She is the Alaska state Chapter President of the National Association of Women Judges, works with the Color of Justice program to mentor youth interested in public service careers. She also served as Chair of Services to Youth for the Alaska chapter of the non-profit organization, Links Incorporated. In that capacity, Pam helped found the Anchorage chapter of the National Association of Black Engineers, an organization that helps provide STEM resources and guidance for youth. Most recently, Pam was interviewed by The HistoryMakers, the largest African American oral history repository in the US (come see our latest exhibition on Black Lives in Alaska to learn more about the HistoryMakers and their work).

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