Elizabeth Wolford ’92 J.D. is first woman to serve as chief judge in Western District of N.Y.

Author: Notre Dame Law School


Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford ’92 J.D. has made history as the first woman to serve as chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York. In fact, she is the first woman to serve in as chief judge in any part of New York state outside of the New York City area.

She was nominated to be a U.S. district judge by former President Barack Obama and received her commission in 2013, becoming the first woman to serve as a district judge in the Western District of New York.

Wolford will serve a seven-year term as chief judge. Her first day of serving as chief judge was July 14, 2021.

“As Sandra Day O’Connor used to say quite a bit, it’s good to be the first, but you don’t want to be the last,” Wolford told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. “I am certainly very honored to be assuming this role. ... I am certainly honored to be the first woman serving in that role. I am hopeful that some day in the not-too-distant future, it will not be so historic that a woman is assuming a leadership position in this district.”

Read this press release for more information.