Gabrielle Kirk McDonald
Business and Professional Leadership
Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, former president of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague (1997-99), was the first African American woman to be appointed a federal judge in the State of Texas. She is a keen guardian of civil rights and a symbol of hope and opportunity to thousands of young people as a law professor and civic leader.
Mrs. McDonald received her law degree in 1966 from Howard University in Washington, D.C. Shortly afterward, she joined the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. in New York City. She became one of a small group of lawyers who traveled around the south assisting lawyers and community members in lawsuits involving school desegregation, equal employment, housing and voting rights.
After her service as United States District Judge Mrs. McDonald joined the faculty of St. Mary’s University School of Law in Texas. She also served as a visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law and the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University.
Mrs. McDonald received a number of awards, including the first Equal Justice Award from the National Bar Association and a Distinguished Alumnus Award by Howard University. Most recently she received the 2001 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award presented by the American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession.
She served as a member of the Board of Howard University, People for the American Way, and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law. She was vice president of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc., a founder and first president of the Black Women Lawyers Association, a member of the American Bar Association and the National Bar Association, and she served on the Board of Directors of First Gibraltar Bank.