The Hon. Donna J. Hitchens (Ret.) served as a judge for the Superior Court of San Francisco County in California. She was elected to the bench on June 5, 1990, and served for nearly two decades, eventually retiring in November 2010.
Hitchens attended Springfield College, where she earned a B.A. in community leadership and development as well as a master’s degree in counseling. She briefly worked as a counselor at the University of Maine before pursuing a law degree, which she completed at the University of California, Berkeley in 1977.
Hitchens began her legal career with Equal Rights Advocates. She joined the organization as staff counsel but quickly founded the National Center for Lesbian Rights. The National Center for Lesbian Rights was one of the first organizations in the United States to focus on the legal issues directly affecting lesbians. The organization addressed custody, adoption, and employment cases, eventually expanding its scope to include the legal challenges experienced by gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.
Hitchens also worked as a staff attorney for the ACLU of Northern California, all before co-founding a private practice focused on civil rights cases.
Hitchens was a recipient of the Benjamin Aranda Access to Justice Award (2001). She also received the Judicial Officer of the Year Award from the Family Law Section of the State Bar of California (2002).
Hitchens was raised near Washington, D.C. She was the first in her family to finish high school.
She was also the first openly gay individual to be elected to the bench in the United States.
She is married to the Hon. Nancy Davis (Ret.).
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