Nan Waller, chief judge of Multnomah County's Family Court, was named Judge of the Year at the national CASA conference in Chicago in March. A reception in her honor is planned for June 2 at The Nines Hotel in Portland.
"To have been honored before 1,500 people who are all doing such great work on behalf of children inspires me to want to do more," Judge Waller said of her award from Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). She became a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge in 2001 and previously served as a juvenile court referee.
Judge Waller is well known for her advocacy, vision and effectiveness in transforming the legal system to better serve children, said Julie Emry, interim executive director of CASA for Children in Multnomah and Washington counties. "We are thrilled to share her with a national audience."
Due to Judge Waller's leadership, Multnomah County Circuit Court has been recognized by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges as a systemic design model, particularly for implementing docketing procedures that reduce the time it takes to go to trial in termination of parental rights and dependency cases. She is also a prominent voice in addressing the issue of racial and ethnic disproportionality within the juvenile justice and foster care system. Waller, who graduated with distinction from Stanford University and received her law degree from the University of Oregon, serves as statewide convener for the Safe and Equitable Foster Care Reduction partnership.
As a juvenile court judge, Waller combines professional expertise with a personal understanding of child behavior and empathy for the struggles of families, according to the CASA news release announcing the award. "Judge Waller is able to reach all partners in the system and to find solutions in the best interest of children. She regularly speaks of the value of CASA volunteers and views the success of the program as part of the court’s responsibility."