Donna Stroud became the chief judge of the North Carolina Court of Appeals today. She took the oath of office this morning, administered by Chief Justice Paul Newby. Chief Judge Stroud holds the highest judicial office of the Court of Appeals, which is the second highest court in the state, behind the Supreme Court of North Carolina. The swearing-in occurred at the Carteret County Courthouse, where Chief Justice Newby also administered the oath of office to new and returning district and superior court judges in that area. She replaces Linda McGee, who retired on December 31, 2020, after serving as chief judge since 2014.
“Serving the people of North Carolina on the Court of Appeals is a great honor and responsibility, and this new role is an amazing opportunity,” said Chief Judge Stroud. “I take my oath of office seriously and with grave respect to the duties now entrusted to me, and I look forward to continuing to serve this great state.”
Before taking her oath of office, Chief Judge Stroud was the senior member of the Court of Appeals. She was elected to the Court in 2006 and re-elected without opposition in 2014. She has served since 2008 as an adjunct professor at the Campbell University School of Law. Prior to joining the Court of Appeals, she was a district court judge in Wake County (10th Judicial District), where she was elected in 2004. Judge Stroud served as a family court judge while on the district court. She practiced law as an associate and later as a partner with Kirk, Gay, Kirk, Gwynn & Howell in Wendell, Wake County, North Carolina, from 1988 until 1995. She then became a founding partner of Gay, Stroud & Jackson, LLP, where she continued to practice until her election as a district court judge in Wake County in 2004. While in private practice, Judge Stroud was also a certified superior court mediator and a district court arbitrator.
Chief Judge Stroud is a 2014 recipient of the General Federation of Women’s Club of North Carolina’s Women of Achievement Award. She serves as Chair of the Chief Justice’s Rules Advisory Commission which is currently working on implementation of electronic filing in all North Carolina courts by recommending revisions to rules and statutes necessary for the transition to e-filing. She is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Appellate Rules Committee as well as the Women in the Profession Committee. Chief Judge Stroud is also a member of the North Carolina Courts Commission, American Bar Association (Judicial Division), North Carolina Bar Association, Wake County Bar Association, 10th Judicial District Bar Association (Wake County), and the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys. She also served on Governor Pat McCrory's Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Use.
A Kinston native, she is a graduate of Campbell University and the Campbell University School of Law. Judge Stroud has been recognized as a Distinguished Alumna both of Campbell University and of its History, Criminal Justice, and Political Science Department. She obtained an LLM in Judicial Studies from the Duke University School of Law in 2014.
She is married to J. Wilson Stroud and has two sons, Aaron and Isaac. She is a member of The Shepherd’s Church, formerly Colonial Baptist Church, in Cary, North Carolina.