Throughout her legal and judicial career, Judge Ernestine S. Gray of the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court, Section A, in New Orleans, Louisiana, has been a strong advocate for improving the administration of justice for children and families in need, and has spent decades working tirelessly to improve the court and child welfare systems that serve them. She was honored this year with the National Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian ad Litem (CASA/GAL) Association for Children’s prestigious Children’s Champion Award.

This award recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution at the national level to improving the lives of children who have experienced abuse or neglect. Judge Gray’s work on behalf of children and families exemplifies National CASA/GAL’s organizational values and demonstrates her steadfast commitment to our mission.

“I appreciate having the opportunity to work in a place where I have been personally fulfilled,” said Judge Gray. “To be able to focus on the issues I think are important, like making sure children before the court have an advocate and have the support they need to get an education, is incredibly rewarding.”

Judge Gray has been a fervent supporter of CASA/GAL programs and volunteers, serving in a number of leadership roles for National CASA/GAL, including on the board of trustees and board chair. She was a member of the National CASA/GAL standards committee for nearly a decade, and served as its chair. Currently, she co-chairs the National CASA/GAL Association’s judicial leadership council.

Throughout her work, she has focused on keeping children and families together, and she has been an advocate for the development of life skills to deter youth from crime. Her impact has been felt in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, and certainly by the children and families in her courtroom.

“As a result of Judge Gray’s leadership, an exceedingly positive impact has been made at the national level that has benefited children and families served by the CASA/GAL network,” said Tara Lisa Perry, CEO of National CASA/GAL.

Judge Gray readily lends her expertise to her colleagues and peers, facilitating trainings for judges, judicial administrators, child welfare practitioners, and CASA/GAL volunteers and staff. She is an advocate and a voice for the National CASA/GAL Association, and her untiring efforts have helped to ensure a court system that is fair, just, and equitable. Children and families are exponentially better served because of Judge Gray’s commitment and dedication.

About the National Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian ad Litem Association for Children
The National Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian ad Litem (CASA/GAL) Association for Children, together with its 948 state and local member programs, supports and promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy so that every child who has experienced abuse or neglect in the United States can be safe, have a permanent home and have the opportunity to thrive. National CASA/GAL offers leadership and support to the network of programs and leads its continued growth. CASA/GAL volunteers and staff work every day to help change a child’s story. To learn more, visit


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