St. Paul, Minn. (Jan. 22, 2016) — Gail Chang Bohr, retired Ramsey County District Court judge, was one of six recipients of the Minnesota Council on Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Distinguished Service Award. The ceremony was on January 18, 2016, Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and was held at the Ordway Music Theater, St. Paul.
This award recognizes and affirms the work of those who made significant contributions in race relations, justice, community service, education, and/or human rights. Recipients demonstrated leadership, made impact in their communities, and advanced the causes of human and civil rights.
In 2008, Gail Chang Bohr was elected as the first Asian American judge in Ramsey County, Second Judicial District of Minnesota, home to the largest Asian Pacific American community in Minnesota. She retired in 2014 and serves as a senior judge for the State of Minnesota. Bohr also serves as an international consultant with the National Center for State Courts Trinidad and Tobago Juvenile Court Project.
Bohr was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, to Chinese parents. She came to the United States in 1962 to attend Wellesley College in Massachusetts on a full scholarship and graduated with a B. A. in 1966. She also obtained a M. S. degree in Social Work from Simmons College School of Social Work.
Her education helped her achieve a 19-year career as a clinical social worker serving children and families in the U. S. and Hong Kong.
Bohr entered William Mitchell College of Law, St. Paul, graduating magna cum laude in 1991, was editor and executive editor of the William Mitchell Law Review, then clerked for A.M. “Sandy” Keith, chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. She practiced law at Faegre and Benson, LLP, in Minneapolis.
From 1995 to 2008, Bohr was the first executive director of Children’s Law Center of Minnesota, trained over 270 volunteer lawyers, initiated award-winning programs to provide representation to children in the foster care system, and secured state reforms, including independent living skills, for youth transitioning from foster care.
Bohr has taught trial advocacy, designed and taught Children’s Law Center of Minnesota training programs for lawyers, written many articles on representation of children, and has served on national and statewide committees on children’s rights. For her child advocacy work, Bohr received numerous awards, including awards from William Mitchell College of Law, American Bar Association, Minnesota Lawyer publication, Minnesota State Bar Association, and the Minnesota Council of Child Caring Agencies.
Bohr serves on the advisory board of the Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the executive committee of the Infinity Project, and the board of directors of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers. She is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association, Ramsey County Bar Association, and Hennepin County Bar Association. Bohr helped found the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum and is an advisor to the Coalition of Asian American Leaders.