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FunTimes Magazine

Honorable Sheila Woods Skipper

Sheila Woods-Skipper, The President Judge of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, the region’s busiest and most prestigious criminal and civil courtrooms. She also cochairs the system’s administrative governing board which pulls together leaders from its branches—Common Pleas Court, Municipal Court, Orphans Court, and Family Court.

Best and worst decision?
“Best: the creation of our Mental Health court, enabling those incarcerated for low level offenses to be released to get treatment for mental health issues, in structured settings; to stop the revolving door. We’ve seen remarkable success. Worst: Sometimes, it’s not that the decisions are bad; it’s wondering if you could have decided differently.”

Dream job as a child?
“I was going to be a teacher. My mother instilled in us the importance of education as the path to success. They can take other things from you, but not what you’ve learned. I wanted to instill that in children, understanding that every child is different, and to encourage them so they could get from point A to point B with success.”

Barriers to female leadership?
“We are in a male-dominated world; we women have to help each other. I truly believe that if any of us are going to be successful, we all must be successful. We have to be willing to reach back and give back and bring someone up to be successful with us and don’t think of we need to be on the throne alone.”

Who inspires you?
“My mother was a single parent, raising three children; I was the middle child. My mother has Alzheimer’s now; she rarely recognizes anyone and doesn’t communicate. She was a fighter, working two jobs and doing whatever it took to see we got in the best public schools. She was very involved in our community, and the home and school association. I took that from her — the need and desire to want to make a difference. She was charged with energy and determination. I got that from her she keeps me inspired.”

Challenge for next Generation?
“Still recognizing that the struggles exist and not to automatically assume that there is entitlement. We still have to be better, do more and make demands that we are treated equally, fairly, and compensated the same as men. We must make sure we are maintaining high moral and ethical standards, and not be afraid to reach for the stars.”