In celebration of Women’s History Month, my editors and I decided to produce a series of features that would showcase women on Guam who have made a significant impact on the community and displayed leadership in their respective fields.
Last week, we published my interview with former senator and Bank of Guam President Lou Leon Guerrero.
This Sunday, we featured Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood, the first Chamorro woman on Guam to serve as a chief prosecutor and was appointed as Chief Judge in the Federal District Court of Guam.
A court of her own
The first time I covered a hearing Tydingco-Gatewood presided over in district court, I was late.
I was so late.
First of all, I thought the hearing was taking place at the superior court. Which is in a totally different place from the district court.
And then when I got to the district court, I didn’t know I couldn’t bring my phone into the building. I couldn’t even put the thing on silent, I had to leave it in my car.
So after walking back to my car, and locking it in the glove compartment, and then walking back to the court, I was nearly in tears. So frustrated was I that nothing seemed to be going right.
I quietly made my way into the court of the chief judge and sat down in one of the seats in the back and began vigorously taking notes on the proceedings that had started a few minutes before I got there.
I looked at the courtroom with its high ceilings, and the plaintiff and defendants making their arguments. And then I saw the chief judge hearing all of it: Chief Judge Tydingco-Gatewood.
Lady judges always impress me, including the judges in the superior court like Superior Court Judges Anita Sukola and Maria Cenzon and Pro-Tem Judge Elizabeth Barrett Anderson.
Sitting in Tydingco-Gatewood’s courtroom, I inadvertently started wondering what I needed to do in my life to be respected and to have the kind of confidence the Chief Judge exuded.
Keeping it Real
I’m (not) embarrassed to admit that I ever so slightly FanGirled when I met the Chief Judge for our interview.
For a person who knows so much about the law, and has to make such serious decisions every day of the week, she surprised me with her warmth and humor.
That’s something that has resonated with me throughout all the interviews I’m doing in this series: that most of these women, and I’m assuming many women with serious responsibilities in their careers, don’t have to sacrifice their warmth, emotions and grace to become leaders.
I hope if I ever reach new heights in my career people will still know that I’m warm and conscientious and that’s what makes me such a great writer, leader, person of interest… whatever.
For now I’m just a sponge, asking questions of people I admire and taking notes.