the hon. maxine aldridge white, law '85
Trying to name the professional accomplishments of Judge Maxine White in 500 words or less—well, it’s just impossible.
Suffice it to say that the little girl living in the Mississippi Delta, the heart of civil rights unrest in the South, saw a lot. And what she saw motivated her to dedicate the rest of her life to helping people.
And, as Presiding Judge in the Milwaukee County Circuit Court Family Division, that’s precisely what she’s doing.
The daughter of grade school-educated parents who were sharecroppers, and number eight of 11 children, Maxine headed to Marquette after graduating from Alcorn State University (Miss.) and getting a master’s degree in public administration, with honors, from the University of Southern California.
At Marquette, she was a star student: Boden Scholar, recipient of Marquette University Lawyers and Thomas Moore scholarships, a spot on Marquette Law Review. Upon graduation, she went straight to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the first African-American woman to do so.
This started a chain reaction that would become the hallmark of Maxine Aldridge White’s professional career. She is the second female African-American judge in Wisconsin history and the longest-serving African American in Wisconsin state courts. She was one of 20 judges selected to represent U.S. courts in judicial training at the International Courts at The Hague and was elected by the judiciary as a representative to the Wisconsin Judicial Council.
In Milwaukee, “I am currently working with the Chief Judge and others on two new initiatives, which include the unification of matters in family and children’s courts, and pro se litigants,” she says. “I am also discussing a research project with a Marquette Law Fellow aimed at improving the delivery of and access to justice in family court matters.”
Maxine has served on numerous boards and is a member of several professional organizations. She is profiled in a book (Be Happy at Work) and co-author of one (Letters from Prison: A Cry for Justice).
And about those awards that are too many to name? They range from being named the State Bar’s Judge of the Year, to recipient of the Judge Mattie Belle Davis Award (presented by the National Association of Women Judges), to co-chairing the Wisconsin Supreme Court Gender Equity Committee. She has received awards from churches, the media, Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, the United States Post Office and the YWCA of Greater Milwaukee, which selected Maxine as their “Woman of the Year.”
“I have received numerous community service awards, each of which are very special and meaningful to me,” says Maxine.
As if this all isn’t enough, Maxine remains steadfastly involved with the community through chairing the House of Peace advisory board as well as the Law School, assisting with the Alumni in Admissions Project, presenting at Law School conferences and providing mentor- and internships.
Her other passions include her faith, art and travel. She has been to South Africa and toured Europe with her daughter, Jessica Vivian, and her husband, Leonard, an administrative judge and singer. “I would like to see the world,” she says, ”or at the very least go to another African nation.”