University of Pittsburgh

President Obama Appoints Pitt Law Alumna Judge Doris A. Smith-Ribner to President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans

Publish Date/Time: 
February 4, 2014

Judge Doris A. Smith-RibnerPresident Obama recently announced the appointment of fifteen individuals to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. According to a White House press release, one of these individuals is Pitt Law alumna Judge Doris A. Smith-Ribner, who served as a State Appeals Court Judge in the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court from 1988 until her retirement in 2009. During her tenure, she was appointed to the Pennsylvania Judicial Auditing Agency in 1991 and served as its chairperson from 1999 to 2004.

The Commission is charged with “improving educational outcomes for African Americans to ensure that all African Americans receive an education that prepares them for college, productive careers, and satisfying lives," according to the press release.

Smith-Ribner received her B.S. in economics at the University of Pittsburgh and J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. In 1984, Smith-Ribner was nominated by then Governor of Pennsylvania and Pitt Law alumnus Dick Thornburgh to serve on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, where she was assigned to the juvenile division. She was nominated by Pennsylvania Governors in 1974 and 1980 to serve as Commissioner on the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. 

Smith-Ribner was appointed to the University of Pittsburgh Board of Visitors of the Law School and has served the board for 15 years. In 2000 she implemented a national judicial externship/clerkship program, which has placed law students and law school graduates into externships and clerkships in federal and state courts throughout the country. The program operates with Just the Beginning - A Pipeline Organization. Smith-Ribner's first placement via the program was a student from Pitt Law who was placed with a 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge in January 2001.

Smith-Ribner is the recipient of the "Thaddeus Stevens Award" by the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia. She also served as a member of the Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission from 2006 to 2009 and currently serves on the Commission’s Criminal Justice and Equal Opportunity and Diversity Committees.

Members of President Obama's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans will advise the President and the Secretary of Education on ways to advance federal programs that improve educational opportunities for African Americans, increase participation of the African American community in federal agency programs, and engage stakeholders in a national dialogue on the mission.


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