Judge Barbara A. Dortch-Okara was the first African American and the first woman to become Chief Justice for Administration and Management of the Trial Court when she was appointed to that position in 1998.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, she graduated from Brandeis University in 1971 and from Boston College Law School in 1974. She was appointed as a judge of the Boston Municipal Court by Governor Michael Dukakis in 1984. There, she helped launch an alternative sentencing program for women. In 1989, she was appointed to the Superior Court by Governor Dukakis, and in 1998, the Supreme Judicial Court appointed her to serve as Chief Justice for Administration and Management of the Trial Court.
Judge Dortch-Okara retired from the bench in 2012 and became a professor at the New England School of Law in 2013. Later that year, Governor Deval Patrick appointed her to chair the state Ethics Commission.
She was president of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association, and the recipient of their 2011 Trailblazers Award, as well as a founding member of the Massachusetts Black Women Attorneys.