Alumna Justice Bobbe J. Bridge's Remarkable Story of Commitment, Engagement, and Service

Autumn 2013 Newsletter

Bobbe Bridge
Bobbe Bridge

“My experience with the multi-disciplinary studies in the UW Honors Program—the opportunity to be creative, to think ‘outside the box,’ to be challenged to solve problems rather than merely recognize them, to experience new ways of approaching an issue, to risk—was a significant early influence for me.”  (Bobbe Bridge) The challenge of identifying and solving problems has been a constant theme in the distinguished career of Bobbe Bridge (B.A. and College Honors in political science), who continues to support a number of diverse communities in retirement. Hers is indeed a remarkable story of commitment, engagement, and service. 

After completing an M.A. and Ph.C. in political science at the University of Michigan, Bridge returned to the UW where she received her juris doctorate from the School of Law, during which time she was a member and editor of the Washington Law Review. After law school, Bridge became the first female partner at the Seattle law firm of Garvey Schubert Barer and supported her alma mater through mentorship in the Law School’s 1L Diversity Fellowship Program.

From 1990 to 2000, now Justice Bridge served on the King County Superior Court, where she was Chief Juvenile Court Judge for three years. This term was followed by service on the Washington State Supreme Court from 2000 to 2008. In her work with the Juvenile Court, Justice Bridge encountered troubled youths: foster kids with mental health issues; children removed from abusive homes or homeless, a large percentage of whom were children of color. In 2006, Justice Bridge became the founding president and CEO of the Center for Children and Youth Justice. Its mission is “Advancing justice for and enhancing the lives of children and youth through juvenile justice, child welfare and related systems reform.” The Center helps parents, advocates, judges, legislators, service providers, policymakers, and professionals to shape a brighter future for youth involved in Washington’s child welfare and juvenile justice systems by sponsoring research, targeting grant funding toward evidence-based programs, developing partnerships, and providing training and education. 

Justice Bridge’s judicial and community service has received numerous awards. The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) inducted her into the Warren E. Burger Society in 2008, which honors individuals who have demonstrated an exemplary commitment to improving the administration of justice through extraordinary contributions of service and support to the NCSC. Also in 2008, she was awarded the Governor’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee Award in recognition of service to children and families in the state of Washington, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office Award in recognition of dedication to youth in King County and the Norm Maleng Honoree Award for outstanding work and leadership in support of justice for children and youth. In honor of their lifelong commitment to community service, Justice Bridge and her husband, Jon, were jointly awarded the 2006 Isabel Colman Pierce Award for Excellence in Community Service by the YWCA of Seattle-King-Snohomish County. Most recently, Justice Bridge’s many and significant contributions were recognized by the Seattle Storm Women of Inspiration and the Samuel B. Kelly Award conferred by the Multicultural Alumni Partnership at the UW.

When asked about her enthusiasm for serving the community, Justice Bridge responded “My father-in-law, Admiral Herb Bridge (also a proud Dawg), frequently lectures on public service, describing it as ‘the rent we pay for the space we occupy on earth.’ I couldn't agree more. We are individuals, but we are all members of a family, residents of a community, citizens of a state and country, occupants (as Herb notes) of the world—we are connected to one another and obligated through that connection to assist each other as we are able.”