Judge Gamon resides in Ottumwa, and is one of the six district-court judges who serve Wapello County and the nine other counties in Iowa Judicial District 8-A. The Ottumwa Courier recently published this Editorial she wrote about Ottumwa Leadership Academy.
A Leadership Academy Spotlight
By Judge Lucy J. Gamon
The holiday season is a great time to reflect on all the positive aspects of living in our community, and the dynamic organizations that are springing up to engage positive change. Recently I had the opportunity to present at the Ottumwa Leadership Academy. For those who have not yet heard of this two-year-old organization, the Academy’s mission is to “develop effective leaders for the betterment of our community.”
The 24 members of this year’s Academy represent a cross-section of Ottumwa leaders, coming from our local schools, churches, hospital, businesses, and community-service agencies. The program aims to “educate, empower, encourage, and engage” by exposing participants each month to various institutions they might not otherwise encounter in daily life.
On the day I presented, the topic was “The Criminal and Civil Justice System and Public Safety.” There were presentations from local law-enforcement officials, the county attorney, a public defender, and two judges. There were also tours of the fire station and the law- enforcement center.
Public outreach is an important part of the mission of the courts, so it was a privilege to be a part of this event. It was a great opportunity to share information about a judge’s jurisdiction and responsibilities, the types of cases we hear, how judges are chosen, how cases are assigned, how judges avoid conflicts, and what happens if a case is appealed. I gave a whirlwind, audio-visual tour of the judicial branch in 30 minutes!
Making this presentation caused me to reflect on a judge’s leadership role in the community. Judges are not really “political” leaders in the conventional sense. We don’t sport partisan or policy agendas either overtly or covertly, and we don’t amass followers. Our civic leadership is trained on one crucial goal for public well-being—to provide a fair and accessible forum for prompt resolution of disputes. The leaders who emerge from the Ottumwa Leadership Academy will be well-informed about important work of the courts, as well as all the other facets that join to make our community a gem!